My baby boy turned 3 last week. When asked what he'd like for his birthday, he told me a Thomas cake. I, of course, had to oblige. I searched for an easy way to accomplish the feel of a "train" without modeling Thomas' face in fondant. Sure it would have been a fun challenge for this art major, but who has the time?
Pinterest provided the photos and inspiration for making a cupcake train, created from Oreos and graham crackers. I used one of our Thomas bath toys as the driver since he was a little bit bigger than the working trains we own. My little guy was thrilled with the result. The cupcakes weren't too shabby either; a moist vanilla cake, drizzled with blueberry syrup and frosted with a blueberry cream cheese buttercream.
Blueberry Vanilla Cupcakes
cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans
makes 24 standard cupcakes
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cup sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line your muffin tin with liners and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until thickened and lightened to a cream color, about 2 minutes.
Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix in the oil and vanilla until blended. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. Mix in the flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Evenly divide the batter into the lined muffin tin. Batter should reach no higher than 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just set.
Cool completely before adding the syrup and frosting.
- 12 ounces frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
In a medium saucepan heat the blueberries and syrup to a boil. As the mixture comes to a boil, mash the blueberries thoroughly with a potato masher. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture, reserving the syrup and getting rid of the solids.
Blueberry Cream Cheese Buttercream
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons blueberry syrup (recipe above)
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and blueberry syrup on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Reduce to low speed and add confectioners sugar, gradually, one cup at a time, beating well with each addition.
Increase speed to medium high and beat until smooth, adding more sugar if needed to get a slightly thicker consistency (the more sugar, the stiffer the frosting).
For the cupcake train:
add a bit of frosting to two Oreos affix the Oreos to one graham cracker and use one Oreo to support the graham cracker off the presentation surface. Repeat until you have enough "cars" for your display.
For the cupcakes:
using a skewer (or toothpick) poke approximately 10 holes into each cupcake to allow the syrup to seep into the cake. With the reserved syrup (whatever is leftover from your blueberry frosting) spoon onto each cupcake, helping it get down into the holes.
In a big storage bag, or professional frosting bag with the tip of your choice, add the frosting and pipe onto the cupcakes. I then topped each cupcake with one blueberry and a little bit of blue icing sugar.
How do you turn a storage bag into a piping bag?
1. Place the corner of a big storage bag into a large cup and move the bag down into the cup with the edges extending around the lip.
2. Add your frosting, or any other pipe-able substance to the storage bag.
3. Remove from cup, work the mixture down to the one corner and squeeze out the excess air twisting the bag as you go.
4. Get ready to pipe. Snip the corner (start small, you can make the hole bigger, but not smaller) and begin piping.