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February 08, 2009

Traveling with Cupcakes

This weekend my oldest daughter and I went on a trip together. My young High School age cousin was staring in her High School's production of Beauty and the Beast and my Mother flew all the older grand daughters up to see it. As we started planning this trip and as other women in the extended family were also planning to fly up and see it I thought it would be a great time to throw a bridal shower for yet another cousin who lived in the area and is getting married in a few months. So we arranged for everyone to come the same weekend, and invited more family members from both sides of the brides and grooms families!
We planned on a brunch but as the date got closer I couldn't NOT do something cake related. So I thought of making Purple Calla Lily cupcakes(we went with her wedding colors and flowers as our decoration colors, while the theme was "rooms" with everyone assigned a different room).
So a week before the trip I rolled out, cut, shaped and left to dry all the purple calla lilies. The plan was to take them with me and the night I arrived to make the cupcakes. But then, as I looked at my delicate flowers I thought, These will all break during the plane ride. So what is the solution. I know that fondant doesn't hold up for long in fondant, but it's only a three hour plane ride. If I put the flowers into the cupcakes just before leaving and then take them out when we get there they should be okay (we were flying to a VERY dry state). I figured the pillow of the butter cream would be much better than just shuffling around in a box... So we flew and the second the plane touched down I picked up my cupcake carrier and THIS is what I found:
In just three hours!!!! I still can't say for sure, but being sealed in the cupcake container certainly would contribute to staying moist, but THIS moist! It must have been the altitude and pressure from flying. I can't think of any other way. I guess I should have googled flying with cupcakes to learn from others who had experience this. I felt so dumb, what a rookie mistake. So we get to my aunts house and enjoy the evening. I've decided just not to serve them, a brunch doesn't need cupcakes anyway. It's the perfectionist in me I guess. By my mother and aunt all think they look fine (crazy) and will probably insist on serving them unless I throw them all out or something... So at 2 am, as I'm laying in my cousins bed with my daughter a solution hits me... So I run down to the kitchen and stay up for the next 2 hours carefully pulling the fondant out of and off the cupcake. The pealing the purple off the yellow stamen (or whatever that part is called). Then I remix the little ball with powdered sugar until it's pliable again. Then try my best to roll it into the right shape (since I don't have my cookie cutter with me) and reshape it around the center and leave it to dry (again a VERY dry state) over some wooden handled spoons. I had to do each one individually because that was the only way to get the amount right. I didn't want to mix it all together and then try to still get 24 out of the mass. In the end they were far from perfect (the edges weren't thinned and rippled like the original, and the end wasn't a nice point. Also the green "stems" I left fallen as they were. they were so soft I couldn't pull them out so I left them. But they looked good enough to present, and appease my mother. I just tried not to look at them too much.
My cousin isn't a huge chocolate fan and requested white cake with lemon icing, and since the light yellow of lemon buttercream fit into our color scheme I was only too happy to oblige. Here is the lemon buttercream recipe I mashed together from a few others I found online.

Lemon Buttercream
1 C butter or Shortening (or half and half)
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 Lbs Powdered sugar
1/2 C water
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
In a mixer bowl, cream the butter or shortening until smooth. Add the lemon rind, vanilla, salt, water and juice and mix until smooth again. Add the powdered sugar and mix, scraping the sides, until smooth again. Add more water until it is the right consistency your looking for, thick, med or thin.

Since I was traveling with these cupcakes and had to make them the day before I used shortening. But I substituted 1/2 tsp of vanilla for 1/2 tsp butter flavoring. Also my cousin and family members LOVE lemon juice so after making this and tasting it I added another 2 Tbsp of lemon juice. It was too tart for my dad, but the bride to be loved it! And that's all that mattered!