A marathon: 200-plus cupcakes for my sister’s 21st!

8 August 2010
by Phuoc

Being the oldest of 6 girls in my family is definitely not an easy job. I set the example for my sisters to lead (which they don’t follow anyway) and sometimes play the motherly figure (even though it drives me insane). There’s a 9 year difference between myself and the youngest (they are twins), so you could imagine that it could get quite bitchy in this household at times. I get the shits most of the time with my sisters because they are so annoying; kids these days have things so much easier, show little respect and are irresponsible (geez I sound like an old lady)!

My second sister and I pretty much grew up with the same restrictions and moral upbringings, so I feel a bit closer to her as she would understand me when I rant on about family issues. Her 21st birthday was coming up and she was planning a huge piss up with about 100-plus friends to celebrate. She had not intended to get a cake for this occasion and I did not know what to get her so I decided to bake 150 200 mini cupcakes for her. The not-so-obvious problem was “How am I going to stack them all up?”, so I decided to make the 5-tier cupcake stand myself (with the help of one of my slaves sisters – Thanks Ly!)!

The week before her birthday party, I planned the different flavours I’d make, experimented with different recipes and worked out what I wanted for each cupcake.. It was down to Orange liqueur cupcakes with candied orange, Mocha cupcakes, Chocolate cupcake with strawberry frosting and dried strawberries and Vanilla cupcake with salted caramel frosting. Fast forward a week and I had 150 cupcakes made and I still had 50 to go, needed to make the cupcake tier, 4 icings/frostings and decorate all the cupcakes ALL IN 8 HOURS! The race was on…

First let me start with the cupcake tier. Thanks to the lovely Sharon, I was given cake boards for this occasion and asked for her advice on how I should assemble this cupcake tier. Normally she’d have cardboard lining the surface of the board, some ribbon lining the edges and styrofoam cylinders to separate each board. On the morning of my sister’s birthday I was on the search for some styrofoam cylinders, having no luck at Spotlight and an arts and craft store I dashed to Hot Dollar and found 4 cylinder boxes… That would have to do. The boards were covered with black wrapping paper (I wanted to contact them but couldn’t find black contact) and lined with red ribbon. The base and lid of the boxes were also covered in black wrapping paper. Without realising this before, my box purchases was actually an ingenious idea! How..? Well I would have the lids glued onto the bottom of the boards and the base of the boxes on the adjacent board below; so it was a matter to putting the boxes together to assemble the tier and pulling them apart for easy storage for later use. GENIUS! I was quite proud of this.

Ok so now on to the cupcakes..

I think the easiest cupcake was the mocha cupcakes. I wanted the cupcakes coffee flavoured but found that when I used freshly brewed coffee the flavour wasn’t as intense. So I used a lot of instant coffee instead and that seem to do the trick. Then it was a matter of getting a chocolate ganache whipped up for piping and decorating them with tiny silver dragées. Easy peasy.

For the chocolate cupcake with strawberry frosting and dried strawberries, I ran out of time to make the dried strawberry chips so I didn’t bother with that. For the strawberry frosting, I was initially going to use this recipe until it failed on me! I wanted the strawberry flavour to be intense so I added more of the strawberry puree but most likely due to the amount of liquid present, it made the butter all clumpy rather than fluffy. Ewww… Discard. With only a couple hours left until I had to get ready for the party, I quickly came up with an easy frosting for the cupcakes. It was chantilly cream flavoured with strawberry jam. I wondered why I hadn’t thought of this earlier.

The orange liqueur cupcakes with candied orange were a bit more fiddly. I had made the cupcakes a couple days in advance so when I poked holes for the liqueur to soak into the cupcakes, they were a bit crumbly, so I’d suggest poking the holes after they have cooled slightly. I was very happy with this cupcake as the buttercream wasn’t too sickening sweet and the candied orange was slightly sweet and sticky. YUM!

Out of the four cupcake flavours, I was unhappy with the vanilla with salted caramel frosting cupcake (I am a perfectionist and this is why the recipe is not included). The frosting wasn’t the best; I wanted a fluffy frosting but instead it was slight runny. I used a can of dulce de leche that was prepared a few months ago and for some reason there was evidence of sugar crystalisation (don’t know what went on there). This was whipped up with some butter, icing sugar and salt. For those who want a salted caramel frosting recipe, have a look at this recipe.

So now I present to thee, my masterpiece..

Orange Liqueur Cupcake with vanilla bean buttercream and candied orange

An original recipe by Phuoc

Makes 30 mini cupcakes or 15 small cupcakes


Orange liqueur cupcake

80g butter

1/4 cup caster sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup self-raising flour

Zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup orange liqueur eg Cointreau (I used a home-made one)

Vanilla buttercream

135g butter

3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted

1 vanilla bean

1 tbs milk (optional)

Candied orange

1 orange

1 1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cup sugar


For the candied orange

  1. Cut the orange in 1cm slices.
  2. Boil the water and sugar on medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add the orange slices and turn heat down to low heat.
  4. Keep on the heat for 1-1.5 hours (check every 20-30minutes).
  5. Remove when orange rind is translucent and let it cool completely.

For the orange liqueur cake

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (360F).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, mix well until combined after each addition.
  4. Sift flour and add orange zest into the mixture and mix.
  5. Fill cupcake liners until 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until skewer comes out clean, cool for about 10 minutes.
  7. Poke holes in the cupcake and pour about a teaspoon of liqueur onto the cupcake to let it soak.

For the vanilla buttercream

  1. Beat butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Split the vanilla pod length-ways and scrape the seeds out; add to the butter.
  3. Add the sifted icing sugar and mix until well combined; do this in 2 or 3 batches.


  1. Remove the candied orange from the syrup and cut them into wedges.
  2. Pipe the vanilla buttercream onto cooled cupcakes and top with candied orange.

Print this recipe

Chocolate cupcake with strawberry chantilly cream

An original recipe by Phuoc

Makes 27 mini cupcakes or 13 small cupcakes


Chocolate cupcake

50g butter

1/4 cup caster sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup self-raising flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

Chocolate sprinkles (optional)

Strawberry chantilly cream

1/2 cup thickened cream

Icing sugar, sifted (I added about 2 tbs)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup strawberry jam (make sure it’s smooth)


For the chocolate cupcake

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (360F).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, mix well until combined after each addition.
  4. Sift flour and cocoa powder into the mixture and mix.
  5. Fill cupcake liners until 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until skewer comes out clean, leave to cool on wire rack.

For the strawberry chantilly cream

  1. Whip the cream until almost stiff peaks.
  2. Add sugar and jam.
  3. Whisk until combined (taste and add more jam or sugar to suit taste).
  4. Pipe cream onto cooled cupcakes and top with chocolate sprinkles.

Print this recipe

Mocha cupcakes

Based from this recipe

Makes 27 mini cupcakes or 13 small cupcakes


Coffee cupcakes

60g butter

1/3 cup caster sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

2 tbs warm water

1 1/2 tbs + 1 tbs instant coffee

Tiny silver dragées (to decorate)

Chocolate ganache

100mL thicken cream

120g chocolate, chopped

1 tsp instant coffee (optional)


For the chocolate ganache

  1. Heat the cream over medium heat in a small saucepan.
  2. Add the chocolate and coffee (if using) and stir until chocolate has melted; take off heat.
  3. Let mixture cool at room temp for about 20-30 minutes before placing into fridge to completely cool for a couple hours.
  4. Whisk the cooled ganache until light and fluffy.

For the coffee cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (360F).
  2. Dissolve 1 1/2 tbs instant coffee with the warm water, set aside to cool
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder together in small bowl.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg and mix well until combined.
  6. Mix in flour mixture and salt.
  7. Stir in the remaining coffee granules.
  8. Fill cupcake liners until 2/3 full.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes until skewer comes out clean, leave to cool on wire rack.
  10. Pipe the whipped ganache onto cooled cakes.

Print this recipe


  1. billy@a table for two

    Colossal effort! Bravo Phuoc! You are such a nice Big Sista!

  2. Margaret

    Aweseome cupcakes!

  3. dario

    Mamma mia ! that would have taken ages!!! good effort, I never baked a cupcake for my sister….

  4. mademoiselle délicieuse

    Oh gosh, it’s like cupcake heaven there… *faint* And you are a wonderful sister for doing so!

  5. Jacq

    Wow awesome work for pulling off 200 cupcakes! And making a cake tier! Hm… I hope my sister doesn’t expect me to do this kind of thing for her 21st, otherwise you might be hearing from me on how to make that cake tier lol

  6. Karen

    Epic effort Phuoc and awesome cupcakes! You are too sweet for doing this for your sis. And holy cow, 5 sisters! I can’t even handle one ;P

  7. chocolatesuze

    awesome job on the cupcakes dude! you’re a great sister hehe

  8. Tracy

    Cupcakes—- delicious. Blog Entry—- adorable and entertaining. =)

  9. Thip

    I understand completely how you feel about being the first child, Phuoc. It seemed like you did a great job for your sister’s bday. 🙂

  10. kristy @ ksayerphotography

    You, are a super sister! 🙂
    It’s too bad about the vanilla with salted caramel frosting cupcake, but 3/4 is a superb effort! I’m sure the others made up for it

  11. Richard Elliot

    Wow! The cupcakes on the stand look absolutely amazing! Such a wonderful gift to give to your sister.

  12. Steph

    Woah that is an insane number of cute cupcakes, well done! Your cupcake stand is seriously ingenius too 🙂 Your sister is so lucky!

  13. OohLookBel

    Those cupcakes are GORGEOUS! Maybe your other sisters are hanging out for a similar tower for their 21sts? 🙂

  14. betty

    wow impresive chicka :O)

  15. dogwithabone

    OMG you are amazing Phuoc! I’m not even a cake lover and i’m drooling!

  16. Sweet.Petite(LikeMe!).Treats

    I had an unauthorised tasting of the orange liqueur cupcake & the buttercream was divine soooo smooth & creamy I thought it was mousse!

    Have been wanting to make candied orange for a while thx for sharing.

  17. john@heneedsfood

    A marathon effort Phuoc! Such a beautiful cupcake tower!

  18. isis

    Yum, I took a shit load home 🙂

  19. Trisha

    Wow 200 cupcakes?! That is truly a momentous effort!!! Well done!

  20. Conor @ HoldtheBeef

    You are amazing. This is amazing. Wow.

  21. linda

    Omg Phuoc, you made 200 cupcakes? You are crazy crazy baker, and they all look great as well. What’s even more astonishing is that there are 6 girls in the family?? Sounds like so much fun at home =D

  22. Lil

    Just. Ohmygosh.

  23. Helen (grabyourfork)

    wow, what a Herculean effort! well done 🙂

  24. Phuoc

    Thanks guys!

    Margaret: It was a shame you couldn’t make it..

    Tracy: I’ll make you and Adam one if you guys come Down Under 🙂

    Bel: I sure hope not! If so, I’ll make something smaller next time…

    Julieann: The cupcake you tried was a mix and match of a few things actually.. It was the orange liqueur cupcake, whipped chocolate ganache and candied orange. Now you can make it for yourself 🙂

    Linda: Take my word, it’s not all fun and games at home.. So much headache from them all!

  25. Sarah @ For the Love of Food

    Wow, a marathon indeed. What a labour of love. The final product is so gorgeous. Your sister must have been so pleased. I did something similar but on a much much smaller scale for my little one’s 2nd birthday party and doing just two types of cupcakes (and only 4 dozen cupcakes) was enough for me 🙂

  26. Betty @ The Hungry Girl

    Wow! I’m so impressed! I could feel the stress and pressure as I was reading this! Your cupcakes look great, and the cupcake tier is GENIUS 😀 You’re such an awesome sister!!

  27. Simon Food Favourites

    awesomeness. can i have one for my next birthday now 🙂

  28. Ladybird

    Oh how wonderful! What a kind and generous big sister you are 🙂

    I’m one of 6 kids too!

  29. Anh

    A big clap to u Phuoc! I have only one sister and there is no way I will bake 200+ cupcakes for her! 😀

  30. Phuoc

    Sarah: She almost forgot because all she wanted to do was dance and get drinking; it was until I nagged her to “cut her cake and blow out the candles” that she did. I should have stuck to making only 3 types and having only 150 since only half was eaten.

    Betty: Oh man.. it was pretty stressful. I wanted to sleep in the corner of her party after all that!

    Simon: You can have one.. I won’t make it though (I’m so over cupcakes now) 😛

    Ladybird: It’s such a headache hey? Is there a mix of genders in your family?

    Anh: Thanks! I don’t think I’ll do something that outrageous again

  31. Cath @ Moo-Lolly-Bar

    Incredible. Those cupcakes look like a work of art on that stand. It would almost be a shame to eat them!

  32. angie

    Awww epic effort, and you are too good of a sister =)
    I did something similar for my cousin’s birthday, she had a cocktail theme so I got away with presentation by just filling 2 medium and 1 giant martini vase on a platter with the cupcakes. Your stand looks ace though! I think I did 3 different flavoured cupcakes with a whole lot of different coloured icings, even then that was hard enough. I’m sure yours would have tasted awesome =)

  33. Trissa

    Aww – you are definitely the older sister in the family. I was the youngest and there is a 6 year gap between my eldest sister so I can relate (and I am sure my sister can too!). I think you are just amazing to go through this much effort for her birthday!

  34. Callum Hann

    What a sweet gesture, it gives me some ideas for some 21st birthdays I have coming up!

  35. Forager @ The Gourmet Forager

    You’re such a generous and thoughtful big sister! What an effort & what a sight! The gift of having all her friends know that her sister is so nice probably didn’t hurt either!

  36. Juliana

    200 + cupcakes? This is amazing and they all sound and look so yummie…so sweet of you doing that for your sister 🙂

  37. Anita

    Wow! Looks phuoc’n’ awesome!!! Luv it. Very creative indeed.

  38. Phuoc

    Thanks guys!

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