Watch Georgetown Cupcake Co-founder Katherine Berman to learn the secret behind their most popular flavor, Red Velvet, as well as how to recreate their famous swirl.
Ms. Berman will show you how to bake, frost and decorate cupcakes while sharing some of her favorite baking tips and tricks along the way. She’ll also share the story behind Georgetown Cupcake and how she and her sister turned their childhood dream into a sustainable business.
Read below for a full transcript of the conversation.
Amie Stevens - Great. Good afternoon everyone, my name is Amie Stevens, Deputy Director and Senior Vice President with First Republic Bank out of our Boston office. Thank you all for joining us for our Cupcake 101 with Georgetown Cupcakes. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing our guest, Katherine Kallinis Berman. Sisters Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne are the co-founders of Georgetown Cupcake. Stars of "Cupcake Cam Live", "DC Cupcakes" on TLC, and the best-selling authors of "The Cupcake Diaries" and "Sweet Celebrations". Inspired by their grandmother in 2008, the sisters traded careers in fashion and venture capital to follow their passion for baking and opened Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, DC. Since 2008, Katherine and Sophie have expanded Georgetown Cupcake with locations in Bethesda, New York City, Austin, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. Georgetown Cupcake also ships its cupcakes nationwide, and I can attest I'm a big fan of the Boston location. Before we start, a quick housekeeping note, you're welcome to submit questions during the demo. To submit a question, please use the Q&A icon at the bottom of the screen. We'll try to answer as many questions live during the demo. Also, this event is being recorded and the replay will be posted on the First Republic website. With that, I welcome Katherine Kallinis Berman. Take it away, Katherine.
Katherine Kallinis Berman - Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for having me today. My sister, Sophie, wishes she could be here. She's about to have a baby any day now, so it's just going to be me today, but I'm going to be showing you how to make our red velvet cupcake. This flavor of cupcake is actually the very best seller that we have at all of our Georgetown Cupcake locations, and it's actually the perfect recipe, I think, for this weekend for Valentine's Day. So if you wanted to jot down some notes on the recipe and see how I'm doing this, it's great to make over the weekend. Any questions like you said, please put them in the chat box, I'm happy to answer any questions, business-related, baking related, or anything in general. So to start with, what we're going to do is we're going to preheat our oven to 350 degrees. And it's always really important to preheat your oven before you start doing anything, because what you don't want is for your batter to be sitting out on the counter for a long time because it kind of collapses your batter and it makes your cupcakes come out really dense instead of light and fluffy. So you want to preheat your oven so that it's ready to go, so that once we are done with the batter it goes right into the oven and it bakes. So once that is preheating what we're going to do is we're going to take a muffin tin or cupcake tin and we're going to line it, if you have these paper liners. If you don't have paper liners, you can easily use butter to grease the different wells or non-stick cooking spray. I have the paper liners that I like to use. You can also get some fun festive ones, obviously on Amazon or Michael's, or even at the grocery store for the holidays. I'm sure they have some cute ones for Valentine's Day. So what we're going to do is we're going to line this.
This will make 12 cupcakes, this recipe. If you wanted to make mini cupcakes, you could easily do a mini pan and then it would make 24. I would just reduce the baking time by half and then check on them, because they are smaller, they're going to bake a little bit quicker. Okay, so once we have our cupcake pan lined, we're going to set that aside, and what we're going to do is we're going to sift one and two-thirds cup of all-purpose flour. People always ask do I really have to sift the flour? And the truth is, yes, you do. Because if you don't sift the flour, you're going to end up getting clumps in your batter, and when you bite into the cupcakes once they're baked you might get like a little flour pocket in there. So a nice little hack at home though, if you don't have one of those rotary sifters, is just to get a whisk, put the flour in there and just give it a nice whirl, and this will get all the clumps out. And this makes sifting actually not so bad, because I know a lot of people really hate sort of the idea of having to sift different things. But when you realize you could just use a little whisk to get around, it doesn't seem so bad. So you have one and two-third cups of flour. Like I said, we use all-purpose flour, this has a little bit more gluten, more protein in it than cake flour. You could definitely substitute with cake flour that has a little bit less protein in it. It makes it like a lighter crumb, so it's really good for angel cakes. For red velvet I would recommend doing an all-purpose flour. So one and two-thirds cups of all-purpose flour all sifted in this bowl. And then you're going to take a half a teaspoon of salt and we're just going to add that into our flour mixture, right like that, and you can sift it in there. And we're going to set this aside so that it's ready to go when we're ready for it.
The next step we're going to do is we're going to take our mixer. So if you have a stand mixer at home, that's great. If you don't, you can use a handheld mixer. You may need to put a little bit more elbow grease into it to get everything combined, but that works just as well. You know, in old days I didn't have a stand mixer and I used to use a hand mixer, and it works out just fine. I like to fit the stand mixer with a paddle. You could use the whisk attachment, but the paddle is actually better for making cakes and cupcakes. So I recommend that you have the whisk, you should always switch out and try to use the paddle for this kind of stuff. So we're going to take six tablespoons of unsalted butter. At our bakery, we like to use a type of butter, because believe it or not, butter actually has a taste to it. So when you're baking with butter, I always recommend using a European style butter. In our bakery, we use this brand called Plugra. I can show it to you here, it's called Plugra. It's a European style butter and has a little bit of higher fat content in it, and that kind of gives you that really lush, delicious taste. It's great for pastries or for any baking. You can find this at Whole Foods, even, you know, I think, you know, any grocery store kind of carries this line, Plugra, or if they don't have this it'll say European style butter on the front, unsalted. So six tablespoons, which is not quite a stick, it's just a little less than a stick of butter. You're going to put that into your mixer. You do want it to come to room temperature. So that room temperature, if you can make a thumb indentation in your butter like that, that's perfect. That is the perfect kind of, you know, consistency that you want for your butter. You don't want to put too cold butter in there because you want everything to sort of combined and mix well together. So you don't want to have any of your ingredients cold. You kind of want everything to kind of come to room temperature, which I would say 10 to 15 minutes before you start baking, just take things out, even the egg and the milk.
Suzie Shqair - Katherine?
Katherine - Okay. Yes.
Suzie - Can you use a food processor?
Katherine - I would not use a food processor. That's like a blade that you typically have in there, and that will kind of just not really combine stuff, it just might just slice it up. So if you could, if you have like an egg beater, kind of one of those handheld mixers, that's probably your best bet. Or if you have like the old-school rotary ones that my grandmother had too, that also works, but I don't know if they make those anymore. I think they do.
Suzie - Thank you.
Katherine - No worries. And so you're going to take your mixer, you're going to mix your butter, and you're going to start creaming it just for like one minute. And then I'm going to take one cup of sugar and I'm going to add one cup of sugar to the butter. This is the stage where actually the sugar crystals are cutting these air pockets into your butter. So you can never over mix at this part in the stage in the game. So once you add your one cup of sugar in, you can mix this on high for as long as you want. You really want to mix it for three to four minutes until it's light and fluffy, and that usually takes, you know, three to four on high, but don't worry if you kind of like step away from it and it's still going, because this is the one part of baking that you cannot over mix. After this stage though, we're going to start mixing on low, I'm going to keep it on low the whole time, because you don't want to over mix after this stage, or else we're going to start collapsing all those air bubbles that we're making, all those air pockets that we're making in the butter right now.
Suzie - Katherine?
Katherine - Yes.
Suzie - If you don't have a paddle, does it change how long you mix?
Katherine - No, you know, as long as your ingredients are at room temperature and you're using the whisk attachment, it shouldn't. It might be a little bit messier because with a whisk attachment, you know, you may get some butter kind of stuck in the little areas here, but as long as you have a spatula and you can stop every once in a while to clean out the whisk and scrape down the sides of the bowl, you should be okay.
Suzie - And does the size of the sugar affect the batter?
Katherine - Does the pardon?
Suzie - The size of the sugar, like do you need to be a regular sugar or super fine?
Katherine - So you want regular granulated sugar. So you do not want to use confectioner sugar. If you can just find regular granulated sugar that's the best. But yeah, you definitely want to not do like super fine or no confectioners’ sugar, but just regular granulated sugar.
Suzie - Thank you.
Katherine - No worries. Okay, so this is looking nice and fluffy. The next step we're going to do is we're going to add one large egg to our batter. So I got this on low now, we're going to start mixing on low the whole way through. One large egg, and it's at room temperature. So I'm going to crack it. I like to crack it sort of in a separate bowl so that I don't get any eggshells in, instead of cracking it right into the batter. And this time I actually didn't get any in, usually I do. And we're going to slowly add this one egg into our batter and then it's going to incorporate into the mixture. Okay, we're done with that. We're actually going to make what makes red velvet, a red velvet, sort of like the little concoction, what makes it red velvet. So what we're going to do, this part, people get very intimidated when I'm making red velvet. They actually think, oh, it's hard for me to get home, and I there's too many parts to it. It's actually very easy, as long as you kind of just break down the steps, it's basically just a mild chocolate cake with a little bit of red food coloring to it. So I'll show you how it's made. What we're going to do is we're going to take a little, I would recommend always getting kind of like a liquid measuring cup, or a Mason jar, or something when you're doing this part. Let me stop this for a second. And what we're going to do is we're going to add two tablespoons of red food color. Actually, I'm going to add two tablespoons of red food color. So this part, you know, I always say, just be careful, because with the red food coloring, if it gets all over, it kind of stains everything, it can stain your hands. If you wanted to wear gloves, rubber gloves, you could, but this is just, you know, regular McCormick red food coloring. I'm going to take two tablespoons, I'm going to put it in this liquid measuring cup.
And this is basically what gives red velvet, that red color. And then we're going to add to this, one and a quarter tablespoons of cocoa powder, sifted. So in our bakery we love using this cocoa powder called Valrhona. I'm going to hold it up there for you guys to see, Valrhona is from France, and this is one of the things where, if you're going to, when you're baking, you really want to use the best ingredients, because when you do use the best ingredients it makes a difference, and it really shines through, especially when you're tasting it. So if you can splurge on a great cocoa powder, I recommend getting Valrhona. This you can find out of Sur La Table nowadays, I've seen it, you can get it on Amazon. So if you go to Amazon and put flour Valrhona cocoa powder, I'm sure they have it there too. But this is a very great cocoa powder, it's great for making chocolate cupcakes at home. I recommend getting this kind of cocoa powder and for red velvet too, it makes a huge difference. What you really want to do though is you want to make sure that you sift this. So you can use a whisk, or you can use a rotary sifter, but you want to make sure that the cocoa powder is sifted before you add it to this mixture. So this is going to be one tablespoon, I got the cocoa powder sifted here, it's going to be one tablespoon and a quarter. So I got one here, let's just level that off. So when you're measuring your dry ingredients, when you scoop it, you want to take your finger, kind of just like slowly run it across, so that you get a level of reading like that. So that's going to be one tablespoon and then I am going to do four teaspoons from here. One, two, okay, perfect. And then we're going to add our vanilla and we're going to add a half a teaspoon of vanilla. And so in our bakery, we use another kind of vanilla, and I'll show it to you as well. You can use artificial vanilla extract if you have it at home, I recommend getting a pure vanilla extract. This is a great one, it's a Madagascar bourbon vanilla, it's called Nielsen-Massey. You know, you can find this, I think, you know, at Whole Foods nowadays, and a lot of grocery stores as well, if almost everything, but so Nielsen-Massey, this Madagascar bourbon vanilla is great vanilla to use. You only need half a teaspoon of it, but vanilla enhances the flavor of things. So you really want to just add that in there as well. So we've got half a teaspoon of vanilla and then what we're going to do is we're going to take our whisk and we're going to whisk it around. You just want to make sure it's a pretty deep Mason jar, because like I said, with the red food coloring, I already have some on my thumb here, it kind of just stains everything. So that's the one tricky part of this recipe is just doing that. Okay, so now that we have this mixture, we are going.
Suzie - Katherine?
Katherine - Yes?
Suzie - What is the percent chocolate to coca in the powder?
Katherine - I think this one is, I think it's a 60% actually. This one's pretty chocolate-y. I'm not sure what this one is, but I'm pretty sure it's a 60%. Let me check. Usually it says it in the front, but this one is one of the higher content of the cocoa powder. I'll get back to you on that one. Okay, so when we have this we're going to add this into our mixture. So I'm going to slow this down, like that, I'm going to unlock, and we're basically going to add our mixture into there. And this is a great time to also scrape down the sides of the bowl. So you just want to kind of get everything out and make sure. Okay. And then you want to take your paddle and you want to scrape down sort of the sides of the bowl, just to make sure that everything is combined and that anything that's like stuck on the bottom comes up to the top again. Then we're going to start up again. And that basically is what makes the red velvet, red velvet, the cocoa and the red food coloring. Okay, so then the next step is going to be basically using our flour mixture and then a three quarters of a cup of whole milk. So we're using whole milk here, you can definitely substitute skim milk with 2% if you like, but you know, sometimes when you use whole ingredients, it definitely enhances the flavor a bit more too. Okay, so what we're going to do is we're going to go in thirds. We're going to add our flour mixture in a third into our batter, and like I said, we're going to on slow here, so we don't want to collapse our batter, so we don't want to dump everything all at once. We want to slowly add a third of this mixture in, and then we're going to add another third of our milk.
So one third of our milk. And while this is mixing, you can always stop and sort of scrape down the sides of the bowl again. I'm going to stop it one more time. It's good to just clean off your paddle here, and then you're going to scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure that everything is combined. And you see that you get that beautiful red color already. Okay, and then turn on low. And then we're going to take another third, we're going to add that in, like that. And then we're going to add another third of the milk, slowly in, and it's important to sort of go slow, don't dump everything in, like I said, that's what a lot of people sort of rushed and tend to do, and that does collapse your batter, it makes your cupcakes come out very dense. So going very slow is the key here.
Suzie - Katherine.
Katherine - Yes?
Suzie - I know you mentioned going slow, what number is that on the mixer?
Katherine - This is on stir speed, so it's like basically one, it's like stir speed is before two. So you're basically putting on stir speed. And then you're going to add the last portion of your flour, and then you're going to mix that, brush the sides off here, and then you're on stir speed here, and then you're going to add the rest of your milk. Okay. Now once that is done, we're actually going to do, this is kind of funny if you're baking with kids too, we call it kind of that science part of the red velvet. So we do a little science reaction. We're going to take some baking soda and we're going to mix it with an apple cider vinegar. And this creates a little reaction where it bubbles up, and we're going to put that into our mixture. And that actually helps, you know, obviously the baking soda actually help the batter rise, but it also helps the color of the red really pop when you bake it too. We do like to use a apple cider vinegar in our bakery, the one we have is actually a one that's also from France, but any apple cider vinegar will work just as well. And if you don't have apple cider vinegar at home, you could definitely use regular vinegar. You know, I like the taste, I think we like the taste, the sweetness of apple cider vinegar, and I think it adds a little something when you're making this recipe. So if have apple cider vinegar, I always recommend using that. So what you're going to do is you're going to take three quarters of a teaspoon of baking soda, and then I have the apple cider vinegar, this stuff I just got from Whole Foods too, and you're going to take three quarters of a teaspoon of that, and you're going to add it to your big soda in your little bowl here before you add it in.
So you've got one, two, and three, and then you can kind of see it bubbling up there and you see all that bubbles, and you can mix it together like that. And what you want to do is just throw it all in right away. I really love the smell, I don't know if anyone's baking along at home too, but the smell of making red velvet, I just love it. Okay, great. So now that that's mixing, no, we don't want to over mix, so we're going to stop. I'm going to scrape down one last time, my paddle, to make sure I got everything off, scrape down the sides of my bowl, and it's looking great. It looks beautiful, and smooth, and a gorgeous red color. Okay, so I'm going to just do one quick mix of this. And then I'm going to take, I'm going to stop it. It's perfect. I'm going to stop it, I'm going to open it, I'm going to take an ice cream scoop. So this is another trick you can use at home too. because you know, when you're you're trying to divide your batter, sometimes using tablespoons and teaspoons and trying to, you know, make each one the same time, they all come out different sizes. When you use an ice cream scoop, they all come out the exact same size, which is a really great kind of hack at home too. So you're going to take your ice cream scoop, you're just going to take your batter, and you're going to kind of scrape it up along the side, and you're just going to scoop it right in to that first well like that as you go. One that's that size, they're all going to come out the exact same size. So you're going to scoop all of this. Okay, and for sake of time, I won't do it all. You're going to scoop all of them and you're going to put them in the oven to bake at 350 for around 16 to 18 minutes, I would check around the 16 mark. You want to stick a toothpick in and you want to make sure that it comes out clean. If it doesn't, you know, put it in for another minute, check it again. But at 18 minutes they should be ready to come out. You want to let them cool in the pan because they do tend to bake a little bit more while they're in the warm pan, and then once they're completely cool, you want to take them out. So that is the recipe for the regular cupcakes. And now we're going to be doing the recipe for the vanilla cream cheese frosting, which is a wonderful pairing with red velvet. So I'm going to get rid of.
Suzie - Katherine?
Katherine - Yes?
Suzie - I've a couple of questions.
Katherine - Hmm?
Suzie - For one, what was the purpose of the apple cider vinegar?
Katherine - So the apple cider vinegar actually reacts with the baking soda and actually helps form air bubbles in the batter to make it rise and be more bubbly. The sweetness of the vinegar is why I use the apple cider. You could use white vinegar too, if you wanted to, but I like the sweetness of apple cider. So it kind of gives it a sweet taste to it. Okay, so I'm going to set this aside here,
Suzie - And I have another interesting question that I'm also intrigued to find out the answer. Someone said they've heard a red velvet recipe using beets instead of red food coloring.
Katherine - Yeah.
Suzie - Have you heard of that? Tried it? Does it work?
Katherine - Yes, so a long time ago when red velvet was, you know, the history of red velvet's very interesting, because some people say it was started in Canada, in Toronto at a department store called Eaton's, and it's some people say, no, no, no it's a Southern recipe, it was started in the South, and you know people use beet juice to make the red color. So, you know, it's hard to tell, you know, where it actually originated from, but a long time ago people did use, instead of red food coloring, they would use beet juice to color the cake. But it is kind of fascinating, just the, you know, the different stories of how it really originated. No one really, you know, has like claimed to like inventing it, I just thought it was kind of interesting too that this department store in Canada too thought that they were the ones who had invented it as well. Maybe, who knows? I don't know. But it has been around for quite some time. You know, while we were starting Georgetown Cupcake, my sister and I filmed a television show for a TLC called "DC Cupcakes". And in one of the episodes, we actually baked one of the oldest recipes for cupcakes and it was from the 1800s. We had to go to Williamsburg, Virginia, and actually bake in one of the kitchens that, you know, they used back then, and it was a caraway seed cupcake. And they used to put them in these little pans, little cups and bake them in the oven. We had a whiskey made of twigs and we were like collecting eggs from the hens and using this twig whisk to like make the batter. It was really fascinating, but you know, the cupcakes go back a long time. A lot of people think that, you know, it's a 60s kind of a dessert, but actually they've been around since like the 1800s, which is kind of fascinating. Okay, so for the cream cheese frosting, what we're going to do is you're going to do is we're going to add six tablespoons of unsalted butter.
Because we're making frosting, you can really taste the butter this time, so especially making buttercream frosting, so use a great butter. So you can use that Plugra butter, I recommend getting it. And you do want this at room temperature, you don't want it to be too soft, so if your frosting butter is a little bit harder, don't worry, it'll just be a little bit stiffer, which means it might be harder to pipe, you may have to squeeze harder, but it'll still work. The worst thing is to have it too soft, because you'll have very goopy frosting, you won't be able to frost it very nicely. Okay, so what you're going to do is you're going to put your six tablespoons of butter in here and you're going to add eight ounces of cream cheese. We love using Philadelphia cream cheese, we use this in our bakery, I've tried a lot of different brands of cream cheese, and I have to say that I'm partial to this one. It's really great. I'm using the full fat version of this, but if you wanted to do the lower fat version you could definitely do it. I'm just kind of indulging today, because it's Valentines Day, it's special occasion. So you're going to take your cream cheese, you can cube it too, if you want. It's pretty soft, so it combines quite nicely, especially when it's at room temperature. So you're going to add that to your butter and you're going to cream these together for I would say three to four minutes. This you can always mix this on high, you do not have to worry about going on low speed for your frosting. In fact, you're going to want to really whip it up high with air in it to make your flop frosting very proud like and fluffy. So you can put it on, I would say on a speed four, four to six, between four and six now, and then what we're going to do is we're going to sift our confectioner sugar.
You know, I think if you go to the grocery store you can get 10X of confectionary sugar, a lot of people use 6X, you know, it doesn't really matter, it still tastes delicious. And so this is sort of the kind you get at the grocery store, and so if you don't have one of these rotary sifters at home, like I said, you can always use the whisk. This is a great hack. If you have one of these, this is great too, you just kind of put it in and shake all the confection sugar. If you don't, just take your whisk and just give it a nice whirl like that. It's important to also sift confectioner sugar too because you don't want to have like little lumps in your confection sugar, I mean in your frosting, you want it to look smooth and like fluffy. So this is the one stage where you want to kind of have, to kind of go a little bit slow. We're going to do six cups and you have to sort of measure and then level off with your finger like that, and then you're going to put it in. This is the time, I say mix it on high, but the one time you don't want to mix on high is when you first add the confection sugar, because it's going to kick up a little bit and it might blow up in your face. So you want to go on stir speed until it's fully kind of incorporated into all the frosting, and then you can kick it up into high speed. There've been times where I just turn it on and all the confection sugar blows up in my face. So you don't want that to happen to you. That's going to be one cup, this is two, two cups, and you're going to go on slow again. We are going to be adding another half a teaspoon of vanilla to this recipe. If you don't have vanilla, you know, it's not a big deal, you can always use, you know, people use different things for this recipe.
So some people like to pair the red velvet cupcakes with a lemon cream cheese frosting, which I find very interesting, I love lemon cheese frosting. But so if you wanted to do that you could definitely zest some lemons and put that in there, and do, you know, a quarter teaspoon, I mean a half a teaspoon if you want of lemon juice. Cream cheese frosting is so versatile because you can really add anything you want to it. You know, you can add peanut butter to it, I would do like a quarter cup of peanut butter, but not red velvet. But you know, if you're ever making another kind of cream cheese frosting, it's very easy to sort of just change it to any flavor you want. That's four and this is going to be five. If you have cream cheese frosting leftover at the end of this, you can always freeze it. So one thing is when you're making any baked good, whether it's cupcakes or cake, you sort of want to never put them in the fridge because the fridge actually speeds up the drying process of the baked goods, so you're actually drying them out even faster by putting them in the fridge. Whereas if you put them in the freezer, you're actually locking them in time, like this drying out process actually freezes in time. And so when you take them out of the freezer, they actually taste exactly the same as they did when you first bake them. So if at the end, you know, you end up making this recipe and you don't eat all 12 cupcakes, definitely freeze them. They stay good and you can take them out, you know, an hour before an event, or whatnot, a dinner, and they'll be fine, put them at room temperature, and they will taste delicious.
If you wanted to freeze the frosting separately, you can definitely do that. I'm going to put this a little higher. It is going to be a hard freeze, so you just need to put it in air-tight container, and then, you know, I would take it out, I would say four hours before you want to frost, where it's a cake, or you want to put it on banana bread, or whatever you want to do with it, because it's hard freeze, it may take a while for it to come to room temperature. And even then, once it does come to room temperature, I would throw it in the mixer and whip it up again to get that nice fluffy texture. Okay, so I've got this going on high-speed, it looks great, I'm going to add one more thing, I'm going to add the vanilla. So I'm going to slow this down, I'm going to add my half a teaspoon of vanilla here. It looks really good, and this is the part where you can kind of taste it to test to make sure it tastes good. You know, if you feel like it has too much of a cream cheese flavor for you, you can always add a little bit more of confectioner sugar to cut it. You know what, I love cream cheese frosting, I love it cuts the sweetness, sometimes some butter creams can be a little sweet for people, and the nice thing about cream cheese, it really does cut the sweetness of it, and it has this wonderful kind of smooth taste to it that's a little bit easier to eat. And it pairs so nicely with red velvet. I definitely prefer having a vanilla frosting with red velvet. While this is mixing on high, I'm going to set this aside. I'm going to show you guys how to frost a cupcake.
So at Georgetown Cupcake, we always frost our cupcakes in a unique way, it's called the signature swirl. When we first started our bakery, my sister would never let me frost any of the cupcakes, only she frosted them, and I had to prove to her that I knew how to do the signature swirl. And I had to frost like hundreds and hundreds of cupcakes before she would let me do it. And now I think I'm a little bit better than she is, but she's not here to fight me on that one. Okay, so what we're going to do is we're going to take a frosting bag like this, it's a pretty big frosting bag. If you don't have a frosting bag at home, you can definitely use a Ziploc bag, a freezer bag. So you take a Ziploc freezer bag and you would just snip the tip of it here. I would say, you know, I'm using a fairly large tip for this, where did it go, here. So it's like, this is called an Ateco 808 tip, so it's got a fairly wide opening, I would say like around, I'd say like an inch wide across. So you kind of want a bigger, if you want a smaller tip, you can definitely do a smaller tip, but if you want to do the signature swirl, it's called the Ateco 808, that's the name of it. You're going to take your frosting bag, and then I would say, you're going to cut probably like an inch from the top like this. Cut it cross like that, if you're doing a freezer bag you would do the same thing in that tip area as well. And you're going to take your bag, you're going to fold it upon itself like this, dig your hand in it, and then you're going to take your tip, and you're going to shove it all the way down to the bottom, and it should fit nicely like that. I don't know if you can see, you have a little bit of space there.
If it doesn't go all the way out, you need to cut the hole a little bit bigger. And you don't want to cut it too big, so don't er on the side of cutting too much, because then the tip will come all the way up. So that you're frosting bag. This is kind of a job that is nice to give two people in the kitchen. So one person can hold the bag and the other person scoops it in. But if you're home alone, don't worry, it's totally possible. So here's your cream cheese frosting, so we're going to kind of scrape down the paddle here, and we're going to scrape the sides so it's nice and light and fluffy, and what I'm going to do is I going to grab the frosting and I'm going to take it and I'm going to hold it, and I'm going to put it all the way down the side of the bag, like that, and scrape up the side so it gets in. So if you fold it and put your hand over like that, it kind of holds it for you, and you're going to scrape and then you're going to put it all the way in and slide it up. You want to get all the frosting out at once.
Suzie - Katherine.
Katherine - Yes.
Suzie - Can you please repeat the brand name of the cream cheese you used?
Katherine - Sure, it's called Philadelphia cream cheese, I can hold off the thing. It's very, very common. You can get this one, like anywhere pretty much, at any grocery store except for Whole Foods actually, I don't think they sell it there. They only sell the Whole Foods brand there, which I don't really love for making frostings, but here, this is it here, Philadelphia original. And this also comes in lower fat versions too, so you do not always have to get the original full fat version So.
Suzie - Sorry, for the butter, what do you think is a good butter for like salted and unsalted?
Katherine - So you want to do an unsalted butter, because if you get a salted butter, your frosting will have a salty taste to it. And you really don't want to taste salt in your frosting. So you want in baking, you really want to go with the unsalted. If you have salted, I mean, it's not the end of the world, you may have a little bit of a saltier flavor. You know, if you like sweet and salty stuff, but if you have unsalted, I would get the unsalted butter. And then so you're going to take your bag, you're going to unfold it like this, and then you're going to kind of squeeze down all the way to the end of the tip here, and then you're going to kind of twist to the top and you're hold it like this. And now I'm going to show you, now that I've loaded the bag with frosting, I'm going to show you how to make the signature swirl. So I've got the cupcakes, they've come out of the oven, here they are, ta-da. And I'm going to take them out and put them here so that everyone can kind of see. And we are making a lot of red velvet cupcakes now because of Valentine's Day and it recreates like Will Stanley's workshop over there. Okay, so we've got the cupcakes here. We've got some more of this that's going on. And what we're going to do is we're going to take our bag and we're going to hold it from the top and we're going to squeeze in the middle of this bag. Now this is quite stiff, so you want to make sure that you apply a lot of pressure to the bag when you're squeezing, and my advice always is when you start squeezing, don't stop.
Because once you stop squeezing, it kind of lets up, the frosting start stops coming out of the bag and it breaks your swirl. So once you start, don't stop, squeeze all the way through the swirl until you're done, and kind of just have confidence with it, you know, apply a lot of pressure all the way through and then till the very end. So what you're going to do is you're going to hold the top, you're going to squeeze the middle part. You're going to start in the center of the cupcake and you want to give it some space. You don't want the tip to be right on the cake, you want to give it like, I would say like half an inch off of the cake to let the frosting drop. And so what you want to do to my store in the middle, squeeze all the way around in a circle and come back down in the middle with a burst of pressure. And you've got this cute little swirl that I've made. I can do another one here for you, hold on. So you're going to start, let me see, I want to make sure that you guys can see what I'm doing here. So you're going to start in the center of the cupcake, you're going to go around in a circle and come back down in the center with a burst of pressure. So start in the middle and then you're going to go down, and that is called the signature swirl of the traditional cupcake. I can do another too. So you're going to just take your bag, squeeze in the middle, start in the center, go around in a circle, and come back down in the middle with a burst of pressure. And it's actually quite fun. You know, the first time you do it, they may come out a little rocky, a little shaky, but the more you do it, the better you will get at it.
So I think like some people say, you know, you frost a thousand cupcakes you will become an expert at doing the signature swirl. So you go round in a circle and you stop down in the middle. And that is the signature swirl. I'm also going to show you how to make fun, oops, whoopsies, that one kind of fell over. So you're going to take a step in the middle and then go around and back down, there you go. So I'm also going to show you how to make fun fondant decorations for your cupcakes. So at Georgetown Cupcake, we always decorate our cupcakes with a little bit of a design, a little fondant decorations, a little candy, and we make all of these by hand in our bakery. So it's got a little fondant red heart on top. And this is very easy to do at home too. So this is something that you could do with your kids, I think my daughter loves doing this kind of stuff too, because it's almost like making candies at home that you can eat, it's like edible play dough almost too. Okay, so what you're going to do is you're going to take some, if you have some parchment paper at home, I recommend getting some parchment paper, laying it out. If you have a marble slab that works just as well too. And we're going to grab some fondant. Nowadays you can find fondant, which is basically corn syrup and sugar, anywhere. So a popular brand is called Wilton, probably a lot of people you've heard of it, you'll find it in the Michael's baking aisle and they sell it also too online. I prefer another brand that we use at our bakery, it's called Satin Ice. So you can actually get Satin Ice fondant, you know, at a lot of different places too.
I think Sur La Table has it, Amazon definitely has it. We get like bigger buckets, this is a little smaller bucket you can get from home. And what's nice is they have different colors. Sometimes if you go to the, you know, Michaels stores or specialty stores they only have white, which is totally fine, you just take away and you can color it with gel food color. I always recommend using gel food color when you're coloring, whether you're going to color your frosting to a different color or not, it doesn't have that bitter aftertaste that a lot of liquid food coloring has. So if you can use gel food coloring if you ever want to color frostings or a fondant. And what's nice about a fondant too is that you can flavor it. This actually smells delicious. I can just see it like this, but you can flavor it. So you can color it any color you want, if you are coloring, I always recommend wearing gloves, because you don't want to get the food color all over your hands. And you can use different flavor extracts if you want. Sometimes I've used cinnamon extract in little cinnamon red hearts. You know, there are times I did mint, little mint leaves, so mint flavor fondant leaves. It's kind of fun, there's all these different combinations you can come up with. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to take the fondant and fondant itself, like I said, it's like an edible play dough, and it's fun to use, it's very soft. And if you keep it for awhile out it may get a little bit dry and crusty, don't throw out the fondant, it's still good, all you have to do is throw it in your microwave for, you know, four to five seconds, and it warms right back up and it becomes pliable again. So what you're going to do is you're going to take your fondant and you're going to roll it out in a ball, kind of flatten it like a pancake and take like a little rolling pin like this. And then you're just going to roll it out.
I would say to the thickness, I would say the thickness of a quarter or a nickel, you know, depending on your preference for fondant you'll, you know, a lot of times it's like a thick layer of fondant on wedding cakes that people just kind of take off and you know, they don't like fondant. I don't love fondant, where I eat blobs of it, my daughter, she loves fondant, you know, she probably want it to be thickness of a stack of nickels. But so I like to make it a the thickness, I would say, of a quarter. And you just roll it out, and it's almost like making a roll of cookies, miniature cookies, with the cookie dough. Something else that we do at our bakeries that's really cool and you can do, it's totally optional, you know, it's still going to look good without it, is we have this edible luster dust. We have all these cool things nowadays where you can get these edible luster dust, this is actually a Wilton brand, and you can find this to Michael's, online anywhere, and sometimes baking specialty stores. And it's like a little edible glitter that you can put on your fondant, so I have like a little a fondant brush here. So I just tap out a little bit of this edible luster dust, and I take my brush and I kind of just brush it all over it, and it gives it this gorgeous like shine to it, this glittery shine. And they have it in all kinds of different colors, so you can get it in bronze, I don't know if I can hold it up and you can kind of see kind of has this metallic look to the fondant now, it's not just regular red fondant. It's like this metallic red fondant, but you can get it in bronze and gold.
It really brings out gold on my gold fondant. Bronze is great for holidays for making little gingerbread, and it's really cute too. And what you want to do is you want to get some cookie cutters. So, you know, they make mini cookie cutters now all the time, and so you can go get some mini cookie cutters. These are great because they're like nesting different sizes, which I like. So, you know, I can use a large and it has different shapes in it. But I can use the large heart like this, or a medium heart, or the tiniest heart here too, to cut up the fondant. And you just want to take your cookie cutter, place it in and sort of just pop it out. And then this will probably take around, I would just say, like 10 to 15 minutes to let it harden and dry. And then you have a little candy that you just made that you could just pop onto the top of your your cupcakes like that to decorate on top and you could decorate all around it. There's all kinds of different toppings that you can use. You know, we actually make these little cute little flowers to in our bakery, which are sweet for the holidays as well. And you can put these on top, red ones. You can find different ways to decorate your cupcakes and get creative, but that is also just another kind of clever thing to do at home. So you don't have to stop at just frosting your cupcakes, you can also decorate them, actually make the little decorations that go on top from hand, from scratch too if you wanted.
Suzie - Katherine.
Katherine - Yes?
Suzie - What if you don't have a microwave? How do you soften the fondant in another way?
Katherine - You know, if you don't a microwave and it's really, really dry, you know, I would just throw it out. It's going to be hard. Because the problem with fondant though is that once it dries and it gets so crumbly there's a point where it can't go back to what it was before. This is, if it's like, you know, a little bit dry, and you can work it in your hands so the heat of your hands. That's always the best bet. So like, it just needs a little bit of heat. So if it's super stiff and dry, but you can warm it with your hands like this, keep rolling it, and sometimes you can bring it back to life that way too. That's happened to me, it's a little bit dry. If it's like really dry and it's crumbling off everywhere, like little crumbly pieces, and you don't have a microwave, it's going to be really hard to get it back. So I would just buy, you know, some new fondant at that point if you don't have a microwave. But the heat of your hands can sometimes help and you can bring it back to life with the heat of your hands if it's not that bad.
Suzie - And where did you get your mini cookie cutters?
Katherine - These ones I actually got on Amazon too. So, you know, if you Google mini cookie cutters, these are called, yeah, it's called mini cookie cutter set. So you can get this on Amazon. We actually have different, like we make custom cutters to, I think we have a 3D printer, so we have like these cute little gingerbread men that we make for the holidays that are really sweet, butterflies, and what's really cool about it, is you can even do 3D stuff. So for my baby shower, my sister made these like little 3D ducks. So she like would roll out like a little sphere for the head, a little body, I'm going to roll a duck I guess. And then she'd make like a little red duck and she put it on every single cupcake. But what's really cool is that you can, it is like art class almost in a way too, so you can kind of put like a little sphere on a head like this, you know? And then I made a little tail, I just pinch a little tail on it. Can make a little beak on the end, and with the different colors you can make like an eye for it. They look so sweet, I think it's on our website if you go and look under like catering events, they're there, but there's so many different things that you can do with fondant. And it's super fun, it's addictive. Sometimes people at our bakery just, they want to work at the fondant station because there's something very like peaceful about it and just, you know, creating things with your hands, and I just made like a little 3D duck here, a red duck, but I can put a little eye, white fondant with a little black in it, you know, and make it super cute.
And you know, you can do different things at baby showers, there's all these different things that you can you can, you know, come up with fondant and that's what's so, so great about it. Does anybody have any questions about, you know, working with any of these tools, or starting a business, or some cupcake? I am happy to answer anything.
Suzie - Oh my God, Katherine, we're getting a lot of questions. I know we're still doing a lot of things, but I have a couple here. How long does the frosting stay good for when frosted on the cupcake?
Katherine - So at room temperature, I would keep this for like 24 hours. So if you're not going to serve, if you're not going to get eat them tonight, I'll keep them on the counter for tomorrow. If I don't eat them tomorrow, then I'm going to freeze them. So I would say, give it 24 hours. At our bakery too, we bake everything from scratch, no preservatives, and the freshest ingredients, and we never keep things overnight. So, you know, it's tricky, it's interesting baking in real time and trying to time it so that, you know, we don't run out at the end of close, but for when you're baking at home too, because we're not using any preservatives or chemicals in anything and it is fresh, we always recommend eating it that day, the next, and if you're going to save it for longer to freeze. Just freeze it in an air tight container so you can get one of those rubber made, you know, leftover bins, just put them in there, seal it, and throw them in the freezer and they should be good for, I would keep them, I've kept mine for, you know, for four weeks, five weeks, and they're still great. After that, then maybe, you may want to bake them again. Personally I probably would, but they do last couple of weeks in there.
Suzie - As far as measuring ingredients, do you recommend using scale instead of using like measuring cups or spoons?
Katherine - You know, people do use scales and that is totally fine. You know, for us, we've always sort of used the measuring cups. I think it's just kind of easier to just zip through than with the measuring, but that is totally fine too. We do have in certain of our cookbooks that we have, I think that there may be measurements for weights for scales too as well for people making it home with scale. But I personally prefer measuring cups for some reason, I can just zip through it. In our bakery we do measuring cups because we do bake in very very small batches in our bakery, which a lot of people are surprised to know that, you know, we don't have these like giant mixes that are off of the ground. You know, we have, you know, the ones that are they're bigger than this one, but they're not that huge. And so, you know, we only bake I think around five dozen, you know, or 10 dozen at a time. So the smaller you bake in batches the better the quality of the cupcakes will be. So like when you're really baking in large quantities, you really lose the quality. So I always recommend, if you can, you know, try to bake a smaller batch, and obviously at home it's going to be small batch, and that's why you're going to get that really great, fresh tasting flavor when you do bake at home.
Suzie - That's great, thank you. And can this recipe work with gluten-free flour?
Katherine - Yes, absolutely. So there is a brand to of flour, I think it's called Cup4Cup, and it's a direct, you know, sort of measurement. So, you know, it'd be the same amount in that gluten-free flour. But we also do gluten-free cupcakes at our bakery as well, you know, so definitely and we love that brand. I think it's like a mixture of garbanzo bean and some other potatoes or flour. But the Cup4Cup is a direct, you know, cup for cup it'll work exactly the same.
Suzie - Thank you. And if you want to continue doing what you're doing unless you want to just take questions?
Katherine - No, I can take questions. This is everything I pretty much, you know, just keep frosting your cupcakes. You know, like I said, you can definitely color the frosting if you wanted. I always recommend using like a gel food color as opposed to the liquid food color. If you want it to flavor it something other than a vanilla cream cheese frosting in here, you could always add, like I said, if you weren't doing red velvet and you could add some a quarter cup of peanut butter. What I like to do sometimes too is I add a quarter cup of a liquor, like a Bailey's, to this, to the frosting, and it tastes amazing. So if you did a quarter cup in a batter and add a quarter cup to your frosting, that is also a great thing if you're having a party with grownups and you're making like Bailey's chocolate cupcakes or whatnot. I actually did a Bailey's red velvet cupcake too, and that's really good as well. So you could add it to this recipe if you wanted as well, and it tastes really good. But yeah, there's just different things that you can do to sort of alter the taste of this. And this is a great frosting, it works great on like a lot of different things, carrot cake, red velvet, like I said, sometimes I'll make a banana bread or banana muffins and top it with that, and it tastes amazing. So this is like a very versatile frosting that you can make and it works great with lots of different things.
Suzie - You sure making me very hungry right now. Let us, while you continue frosting, let's learn a little bit more about you personally. What was your favorite creation that you've made on "DC Cupcakes"? We've had that question a couple of times.
Katherine - Oh wow, yeah, that's a very good question. So we started "DC Cupcakes", so we did three seasons of "DC Cupcakes" on TLC and basically, you know, it's a television show that sort of followed my sister around in the bakery, you know, just two sisters running a bakery. And we also did these very big builds out of cupcakes. So we would create sculptures out of cupcakes and artwork out of cupcakes. And so there were a lot of different builds that we have made, you know, one that kind of stands out was for a 16th birthday party, and we made a glow in the dark cupcake guitar for her sweet 16 birthday party. We actually made a tank out of cupcakes for the Army's birthday and we had to bring it to the Pentagon in Washington DC. And it actually shot cupcakes out of it, which was kind of crazy. My sister made me a really cool duck, a huge 3D duck that was like looked like it was floating in water for my baby shower, which was really cool. But God, there's been so many really, really cool ones that we've done. We've done a slot machine that actually likes sprinkles came out of it, like a life-sized slot machine. There's like a million, I can't choose which one, but there's a lot of them.
Suzie - And what brand or what's your favorite bakeware brand you like to use?
Katherine - So I love Williams-Sonoma brand stuff, you know, they have really great bakeware, you know, they have like a Goldberg line and this is the Golerg line here that I have. This one's great, really stands the test of time. We've had this like forever and it doesn't get scratched up and kind of messy, like other bakeware lines do. So personally the Williams-Sonoma one is my personal favorite that I really enjoy, but you know there's a lot of different ones, you know, you can get the Wilson brand ones are great too for people who are at home bakers as well. But you know, it just depends on a price point too because the Williams-Sonoma are a little bit pricier, but because, you know, I do a ton of baking, I sort of like, and I'll put the investment in to get like a good bakeware line, but you know what, it ranges, but they're all great, they all work fine, I don't think I've come across a brand that was like not good at all and didn't work, but Williams-Sonoma definitely has a great bakery line there, especially for their like their cake and a cupcake line, and their cookie sheets too are great as well.
Suzie - Awesome, thank you. And I don't want to assume, but is cupcake is your favorite dessert or you have something else that you enjoy?
Katherine - It is, you know, I love cupcakes, and what I really love about cupcakes is that you can eat different, you don't feel guilty having many different flavors, and I think before we started this Zoom we were talking about how sometimes at our house when we bring like a dozen cupcakes over, I'll quarter them, and then I'll take a quarter of a bunch of different flavors, and then I don't feel so guilty because I had all these flavors even though maybe two or three cupcakes in total, but it had, you know, 12 different flavors. But yeah, I love making cheesecakes. So cupcakes are definitely my favorite, but I love making cakes, I love making cheesecakes, cookies are another big thing in our household too. Ever since COVID, you know, we've been sort of stuck in the house a lot. And I have an eight year old daughter, so, you know, we've been baking a ton. So, you know, we'll bake anything. We bake so many key lime pies, we already lost key lime pie. We do do cheesecake, we do mini cheesecake cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake too. I'm such a fan of cheesecake ever since I was younger too, I just loved cheesecake. And so we make some really great cheesecakes. In January we had an Oreo cheesecake cupcake, we do this butterscotch cheesecake, which is amazing, and we do a mocha chip coffee cheesecake, which is really, really good too. It's like sort of like one of those sleeper flavors, those hidden flavors that people are like, oh, I don't know about that one, but once you have it, you're like, oh my gosh, I can't believe like how good that one is.
Suzie - And I know it's been tough lately, and have your business been suffered and how are you trying to do, I know you're doing a lot of virtual classes, are you going to continue doing that? Are you guys open? People are do you have any classes that you offer?
Katherine - So those are great question. So we have seven locations and we also ship nationwide. And so before the pandemic hit, you know, we had spent a lot of time the years prior setting up our online ordering system so that our customers could, you know, order cupcakes on their phones, make it easy for them to place orders to ship to friends and family everywhere, and for delivery and pickup. So, because a lot of the times people would say, oh, Georgetown Cupcake has this long line, I don't want to wait in this line. And like, you know, the line kind of deterred people. So we really made a big investment in our pre-order delivery and shipping sort of capabilities. And so we were sort of set up for that before the pandemic, which I think really helped us a lot so that we are closed technically to the public. So the public can't come into our bakery, but you can still pick up, get delivery, and get them shipped. So the only difference is people sort of little bit lose the experience of coming into the bakery. All of our bakeries are sort of open concepts so that you can kind of see through the window and see how, you know, they're being baked back there, you can see the eggs being crack, the milk going in, and like people frosting. It's a very visual experience for a lot of customers, especially for some customers who, you know, may have seen the show and they want to come in and they want to see what's going on in the bakery. And you kind of miss the smell of being there and seeing everything. So that's the one sad thing about it, but we can still service everyone in all our markets through pickup, delivery, and shipping, which has been like such a saving grace for us. So we haven't had to like, you know, shut down any bakeries or anything like that.
If anything our shipping businesses has picked up because a lot of people are, you know, at home not going to the office as much, and so they're just getting their cupcakes shipped and, you know, giving like a little care packages to their family and friends, which is always like a nice pick me up. And our shipping is really cool too because it comes in a pink box as well, so at your doorstep, you know, FedEx will deliver this like pink box with pink swirls all over it and you open it up, there's another pink box inside. So you still kind of get that feeling of Georgetown Cupcake even though you're not in the bakery, it's almost like Georgetown Cupcake kind of landed on your doorstep and we came to you. But it definitely has been challenging, especially in terms of like, you know, reduce staffing. You can't have, you know, the full amount of people working there at one time and just making sure that, you know, everyone can physically distance while they're working there, you know. So there are definitely are those challenges too, but we've been fortunate enough where, you know, we're still fulfilling orders.
Suzie - That's amazing. We are coming to an end, but before we end, we know you were inspired by your grandmother and I'm sure you've learned a lot throughout the years. One advice or advices you'd like to share with those who are looking to starting business in baking or have a passion for baking? Anything you could share with us?
Katherine - Absolutely. So our grandparents and my parents actually were immigrants, they were from Greece. And so when my sister and I were growing up our parents both worked full time and they would drop us off at her grandparents house who lived down the street from us. And so our love of baking really came from our grandmother, because we would follow her around the bakery, I'm sorry, the bakery, her kitchen all day long sort of just, you know, watching her. And she really was the influence that really kind of like, she was a huge influence in her life and the reason why we wanted to start Georgetown Cupcake. I would say to really never give up on your dream because starting any business is really hard, and there's definitely going to be times where you sort of question yourself, like, why did I do this? This is like too hard. You know, it's almost like it was nice because I guess Sophie, my sister, and I were so naive when we first started, we didn't realize all the things that can go wrong, and we realized, wow, like why does everything keep going wrong? Why don't we have a day where like one thing just can't go wrong. We realized that day doesn't exist and that you have to sort of embrace the uncertainty, which I think a lot of people are doing right now with the pandemic, but it is very much like owning a business, it's kind of like a rollercoaster.
There's like, you know, good days and there's bad days, and things go wrong, and we always say, it's like putting on a Broadway Show, but don't let that deter you. You know, our grandfather came to this country, I always look to my grandfather, my grandmother, they came to this country, they didn't even speak the language and they started their life all over again, and they were able, you know, to do that. So that to me gives me like inspiration, hope, like if he could do that and they could do that, I could definitely start my own business. So don't give up even when you're having like a hard time or, you know, hard day, just know that other people are going through that too with you and just to never give up on your dream, and just keep going.
Suzie - Thank you so much, Katherine, and we absolutely appreciate you, and please think your sister, Sophie on our behalf. We wish all the best, and thanks for being with us today, for sharing your secret recipe and making your famous Georgetown Cupcakes, it looks delicious and I can't wait to try it myself at home. I'm sure our attendees enjoyed it as much as I did. And to all of our attendees, thank you for being with us today. As a reminder, this event was a recorded, and the recording will be available on our website next week. A follow up email with the recipe and instructions will be sent to everyone who attended today's webinar. Please visit our website firstrepublic.com for a schedule of our upcoming webinars. Thank you everyone, and be well. Goodbye.