Sunday Servings: Heavenly Cupcakes

Baking is an act of generosity. It is love and kindness and sorrow and hope baked into a loaf of generosity. Sunday Servings is an attempt to spread the generosity a little further by sharing stories and recipes. If you would like to share your own story or recipe, please do so in the comments section or you can tweet ideas to @MamaMcAfee or share on my Facebook page.


My colleague's 30th birthday was this past week, so of course we had to go all out, decorating her office and baking cupcakes and doing our best to make this milestone birthday a memorable one.

I volunteered to bake the cupcakes (which turned out great), but volunteering to bake also meant volunteering to ice (which did not turn out great).

I'm terrible at icing. It is not a medium I can work with, at all.

Now, I can make delicious icing. I can mix up the perfect icing accent to any cake or cookie, but I absolutely cannot make it look delectible in the application. Even the store bought tubes of icing which are supposed to make the worst cake decorator the best fall short in impoving my skills.

Probably this is why I don't particular like icing and often scrape it off before enjoying the baked good underneath. I subconciously hate it for making me feel inadequate in the kitchen.


I used to be a perfectionist.

I used to drive myself mad trying to make sure everything I did was just right, and when it wasn't just right, I'd get angry and frustrated and beat myself up.

Sometime in the last few years, though, I've stopped. I've stopped being a perfectionist.

Now, I still have really high expectations of myself and of the people around me. And there are days and times when I still want it to be perfect. But most days, when I know I've tried my best or not achieved perfection on the second or third redo, I can say enough. It's good enough.

I find it incredibly liberating to be able to walk away from a project with a sigh and a smirk and let it roll off me with an "at least I tried."

It's what I did with the icing this week.

I invisioned beautiful cupcakes, piled high with swirls of pink icing. I even bought one of those funky cans of icing, thinking, Yes, this time I will succeed. This can will alter my abilities and I will make the perfectly iced cupcakes I have always dreamed of making.

You can see the result in the picture below.

I gave up on piled high swirls for a quick sweep with a knife, and the can of bliss which was supposed to make me the icing queen didn't even contain enough icing for a decent coating.

But it's ok. And everyone loved them. And the artlessness of the icing didn't matter one bit. And it felt good to be ok with that.

Maybe setting aside perfectionism comes with maturing. Maybe it comes with being more ok with the self you are and striving less to be the self you think you ought to be. Maybe it comes with preparing to be a mother. Maybe it comes with failing too many times to count. But whatever got me to this place, I'm glad it got me there.

It feels good to release myself from the bonds of perfectionism and just enjoy the good enough and the I gave it my best.


Heavenly Cupcakes*


  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs (unbeaten)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease or line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar well. Add eggs individually and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, cocoa and baking soda. Alternate adding buttermilk and dry ingredient mixture. Spoon batter into pan filling cups 3/4 full.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool before icing.


*I addapted this recipe from an old recipe for heavenly cake. Thus it yields a lot of cupcakes, approximately 30.