RSPCA Cupcake Day: baking a difference
Been honing those iso-baking skills in the kitchen? Now you can use that cake-tastic prowess to help raise money for an important cause – helping animals in need. RSPCA Cupcake Day challenges Australians to whip up some delicious treats and raise funds for the RSPCA. Although cake is always a highlight, the real cherry on top of Cupcake Day is the thousands of animals you’ll help with your fundraising efforts. The RSPCA is a charity dedicated to rescuing, treating and rehoming thousands of animals each year, as well as influencing animal welfare policy, practice and legislation across the country.
The sweetest event of the year is taking place on Monday, October 26, but this year, RSPCA Cupcake Day will look a little different. Australians are being encouraged to host their own COVID-safe events at any time in the lead-up to the official date, including virtual bake offs and socially distanced events, as well as events at work or school.
The RSPCA’s newest chef ambassador, Dan Pasquali of Dan’s Bake Lab, says these changes can provide new opportunities to involve more people. He also wants to remind everyone to think about the welfare of hens, and only use cage-free eggs in your baking.
“Higher welfare eggs equal lots of happy chooks, and happy cooks,” says Pasquali, who’s best known from his time on The Great Australian Bake Off.
“I’m getting ready for RSPCA Cupcake Day in my Bake Lab right now, so my message is: grab your aprons, turn on your ovens and let’s get baking for this important cause!”
As well as being a boss baker, Pasquali is also a research scientist, and he uses his knowledge to help him create incredible edible masterpieces in the kitchen.
“Baking is fun and it’s full of chemical reactions,” he says. “There’s lots to learn, so if you do make a mistake, don’t panic – the most important thing you can do is keep baking for RSPCA Cupcake Day to raise important funds that go towards caring for animals in need.”
Over his years as a baker, Pasquali has learned some important tips to guarantee delicious baked goods every time. He’s sharing them here to help ensure that your RSPCA Cupcake Day creations are so purrfecct, they’ll have tails wagging with delight.
Always remember to use cage-free eggs
“By doing so you’re supporting farmers doing the right thing and helping to create a better life for Australian hens,” Pasquali says.
Room temperature eggs are the secret for a great bake
“Always remember to remove your eggs from the fridge and allow them to sit for 20-60 minutes, depending on the climate,” Pasquali advises. “This helps to create an emulsion with small air bubbles which expand during baking, creating delicious, soft, fluffy cake.”
Precision is important
As a scientist, Pasquali knows that you need the right formula to get the right results. So make sure to weigh all the ingredients, prepare them carefully and follow the recipe.
Get yourself an oven thermometer
Every oven is slightly different, so consider investing in this handy tool to get your baking conditions just right.
Rotate your baking tray
Turn it halfway through the recommended baking time, as the temperature in the front of the oven may be slightly different from the temperature at the back of your oven.
Don’t forget to add salt
“People are often afraid to add salt to sweet recipes, but it makes food more delicious,” Pasquali says. “It helps to balance the sweetness and enhance the flavours.”
Sifting makes a big difference to the end result
Did you know there is 10-15 grams difference between one cup of sifted flour and one cup of non-sifted flour? Nor did we. Nice tip!
Be patient when it comes to icing
“My tip is to place your cakes in the fridge for five to 10 minutes, and then apply the frosting to avoid it melting,” Pasquali says.
Now that you’re armed with expert advice, you’re ready to get baking for animals in need. For a vibrant, decadent crowd-pleaser, try this recipe, from Matt Moran and the RSPCA.
Matt Moran’s red velvet cupcakes
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15-20 minutes
For the cupcakes
150g plain flour
12g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
80g salted butter
180g caster sugar
1 tbsp red food colouring
1 cage-free egg
1 tsp lemon juice
For the icing
140g cream cheese
90g icing sugar
50g salted butter, room temperature
For the cupcakes
1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Line a muffin baking tray with 10 cupcake paper cups.
2. In a large bowl, sift plain flour and cocoa powder, then add bicarb soda and mix.
3. Add butter and sugar in a separate bowl. Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until well combined and pale in colour. Add egg and lemon juice, continue mixing until combined.
4. Once the ingredients are combined, add the food colouring and continue mixing until all the colour is mixed through evenly. Add in the buttermilk and mix through until combined.
5. Place egg mixture in with flour and fold through until all ingredients are combined.
6. Fill cupcake cups halfway with cupcake mix and place into pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until you can put a skewer through the cupcake and it comes out clean.
7. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
For the icing
1. While waiting on the cupcakes to cool, place the cream cheese and icing sugar into a mixer and mix until combined.
2. Add in the butter and vanilla, continue to mix until the mixture is smooth and a thick consistency. Place into the fridge to set.
3. Once the cupcakes are cooled, use a piping bag or spoon to cover the cakes with icing. Then get creative and decorate them as you wish.
You can register for RSPCA Cupcake Day, get help planning an event and download all the material you need at rspcacupcakeday.com.au. If you can’t hold an event this year, there are still plenty of ways to get involved in RSPCA Cupcake Day. Encourage a friend, family member or colleague to host instead, and bake up a storm to support them.
You can also help to improve the welfare of farm animals by choosing wisely as a consumer. Check out our story on how you can support humane food at home and when dining out.