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Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

It was my pal Terapan’s birthday a couple of days ago. He decided to have his birthday shindig on Monday night, for reasons I still cannot understand. But it was kinda nice because even though I couldn’t celebrate for very long (8AM class on Tuesdays), I don’t have class at all on Mondays so I was able to bake him something x-tra speshul.
Terapan…enjoys his alcoholic beverages. Early on, I was thinking of making a chocolate stout cake to incorporate this love of his, but I just wasn’t in the mood to make something chocolatey. Instead, I took a page out of Brandt’s cookbook (not literally….) and made champagne cupcakes.

I hadn’t even heard of champagne cake before Brandt made it one day. He had a little trouble with the buttercream because our kitchen was way too hot, but the cake was absolutely delicious.

It was light and dense at the same time (how?!) and you could actually faintly taste the champagne flavor.

I found this recipe on Gimme Some Oven, which they adapted from allrecipes.

I had a little mishap with the egg whites; I overbeat the first 6 so I ended up having to use a full dozen eggs on these guys. Ah well, now I have a ton of egg yolks to use for key lime pie.

Speaking of which, I’ve recently become a Berkeley Bowl convert. I LOVE the place. For some reason, I had this misconception that it was extremely expensive, and while some of the stuff there is admittedly overpriced, the produce section is AMAZING and cheap. This store pretty much epitomizes what Berkeley is all about. It’s like an indoor farmer’s market open every day, but cheaper. So I made a trip there the other day and bought 15 limes; they were only 10 cents a piece!

And on the topic of stores I’ve been discovering in the surrounding area–SPUN SUGAR. AHHH. This place will be my downfall. The only cake decorating store in the east bay, this place happens to be about a 10 minute bus ride from my house. How did I never find this place before? I picked up some jumbo piping tips so I can start working on my cupcake piping skillz, some sprinkles, and a really cool cupcake giftbox for Terapan’s cupcakes.

But back to the issue at hand. After messing up the egg whites, I realized that even after I corrected my problem, these egg whites were hard to fold into the fairly thick batter. Next time I’ll probably up the champagne to about a cup and maybe add some vanilla.

Brandt told me that champagne cakes are typically light pink in color, so I pulled out my food coloring that I brought up from home. The problem was that I forgot it was gel coloring and just how potent gel coloring is compared to liquid food coloring, soooo my cupcakes came out a TAD too pink. But I think they looked really nice and festive in the end.

The piping went fairly well; this buttercream recipe is a little strange in that it kind of starts to separate if it’s not cold enough, so it was a little difficult to pipe. I’m excited to refine my skills with a less temperamental frosting.

Overall, they came out pretty tasty. Just make sure to not overbeat your egg whites if you decide to try this recipe out, and you might even want to use a different icing recipe altogether if you’re a beginner because this one might just frustrate you. Also be careful not to overbake, as these guys can get a little bit dry.



  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup champagne (I used a Moscato champagne because it’s really sweet)
  • 6 egg whites


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare a cupcake pan with liners. (This recipe yielded about 20 for me.)
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne.
  3. In another large clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.



  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons champagne, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt


  1. With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter. Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another two minutes. Add vanilla and champagne, beating on medium for another minute.
Oh, and the last really awesome thing I want to share is actually long overdue.  I was a bridesmaid at my cousin’s wedding back in March, and let’s just say that my new cousin-in-law gives some pretty awesome gifts.  She knew how much I like baking and such, so she gave me an awesome set of whale measuring cups, and this baby:
yup, that’s a personalized embosser.  It came with a bunch of those shiny award stickers–blank. Perfect for embossing.  I don’t know if you can read it, but it says “FROM THE KITCHEN OF RACHEL LO”. How awesome is that? I’ve been embossing cards, envelopes, and these stickers of course.  That’s another reason I was so excited to find Spun Sugar; now I can put these legit stickers on some legit packaging. Woohoo!

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