I’m baking in honor of my friends and all my friends’ mothers who have fought their own personal battles with breast cancer and other forms of cancer. And, especially, I am dedicating this baking post to one woman who holds a very special place in my heart, Mrs. Evelyn Finch.
Mrs. Finch came into my life when I was a very young teenager and she is the mother of two very dear friends from my teenage and college years, Carol and Betsy. I knew almost from the first meeting that Mrs. Finch welcomed me as another daughter, and the years and years of caring and support by both Mr. and Mrs. Finch have always made me feel safe and loved. And, even when I wasn’t able to see them often. It can be an uneasy world sometimes, but knowing that they always loved me even when they didn’t have to love me has made me a much better person in this life. Without them, I have no idea how I would have survived some very difficult years. They were always there, always welcoming, fully supporting me, and never judging me.
|Mr. and Mrs. Finch|
So, on to Mrs. Finch’s story. She’s battled two bouts of breast cancer with lumpectomies on both breasts and also was diagnosed with kidney cancer. She’s am amazing survivor on many levels. Always kind-hearted and generous. A bit of a temper when pushed too hard, but that’s the fighter in her. I’m amazed when she describes her diagnoses and treatments…Almost like they are just something in life you “make do” with and move beyond. She’s had some other health challenges in her life, and seems pretty pragmatic. I’m a wimp when it comes to medical issues, so she’s teaching me to stay steady and work hard to get better.
I recently visited the Finches whom had moved to Ohio last year. I hadn’t seen them for too long, entirely my fault. And, what an amazing visit and time with them.!! I cooked for them and did a few errands, but it was so great to just see them and be in their presence. Grounding and solid.
She’s often asked me to call her, Evelyn, but I just can’t. She’ll always Mrs. Finch to me and I will always love her for keeping me a part of her family.
So, I’ve made Pink Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream, adapted from a recipe in IntoxicatedCupcakes. I have shared with Mrs. Finch and her family many a champagne cake created by Nugget Market in Davis, California. I’m sharing my baked goodies with a local breast cancer group, Bosom Buddies, and they have asked that I speak about Frosting for the Cause. My other donation will be to the Placer Breast Cancer Endowment which funds cancer research at the U.C. Davis Medical Center.
|Mrs. Evelyn Finch|
Pink Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream
Adapted from Intoxicated Cupcakes by Kate Legere, Makes about 20
For the Cupcakes
6 large egg whites (save 3 yolks)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
5 ounces (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
3 egg yolks (optional)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup Pink Champagne (I used Cinzano Rose)
4 drops red food coloring (optional, but it does make it pink)
For the filling
1 - 1.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix (try the white chocolate for a whiter center)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup Pink Champagne
For the buttercream
1 cup salted butter, at 68 degrees (you don’t want this too cold or too hot)
2-3 tbsp strawberry puree (could probably use crushed fresh strawberries or some jam)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1-2 tbsp Pink Champagne
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Corn syrup in 1 tbsp increments, as needed for spreading/piping consistency
1. Preheat oven at 350, line cupcake pan, set aside
2. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks, then slowly beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until glossy stiff peaks, but not dry. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks (optional), vanilla bean paste and red food coloring and beat well. Sift the dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with the Pink Champagne, mixing well after each addition.
4. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites carefully not to deflate the egg whites.
5. Use an ice cream scoop to fill the prepared cups. You want them about 3/4 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. They should not be brown on the top. Springy. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely before filling.
6. Combine the filling ingredients together and whisk for about a minute until smooth. Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes. Place in a piping bag or a zip-top bag.
7. Remove a core of each cupcake (I use a cupcake corer), about 2/3 of the way down into the cupcake. Fill each hole with some cream filling, and replace the cored piece, gently pressing down.
8. For the buttercream, in a bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter, strawberry puree and vanilla. Mix on low speed, scraping every minute until you have an emulsion (with a little bit of liquid in the bottom). About 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.
9. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar slowly on low speed. Beat for 1 minute, scrape the sides, and slowly increase the speed to medium.
10. Check for consistency and add 1 tbsp corn syrup and beating for 30 seconds on medium after each addition, until you get the spreading or piping consistency that you like. Once you get that, increase speed to medium high and beat for a minute until fluffy.
11. Spread or pipe on cupcakes and add your favorite pretty sprinkles.