Becky Swanson's Sweetcakes!

Becky Swanson was initially inspired by the Fernie Mountain Market - she wanted to be a vendor and offer something made in Fernie. At first she started by making pillows and hand bags, but they didn’t sell as well as she had hoped. She did her research and discovered that food was popular at the market, with not that many people offering it. One day while out running inspiration struck - cupcakes would be fun to make and hot sellers. It was perfect timing, as the cupcake craze was sweeping the nation. Becky who always loved to bake knew she was on to something.

The cupcake is the old-fashioned, home-baked treat that many of us grew up with, but with its recent reinvention is not just for kids anymore. In the mid 1990’s cupcake shops began popping up in trendy neighbourhoods all over North America. They also began making appearances in pop culture on shows such as Oprah, Sex and the City and Saturday Night Live. As well, the trend began to appear at weddings with cupcakes becoming substitutes to the traditional wedding cake.

“It started out slowly with my first year at the market selling about 100 cupcakes a day and this summer I made 400 and sold out every Sunday.” Becky also has seen a growth in the catering side of her business – weddings and birthdays. She had orders to fill six out of the eight weekends this summer. Becky gets inspiration for recipes by the many sites on the Internet but also owns about 20 cupcake cookbooks. “My friends give them to me as gifts,” says Becky with a laugh. Her repertoire includes over 20 flavours but says that vanilla, chocolate and lemon are her mainstay flavours. Becky often creates her own twists to the traditional, like huckleberry icing when in season, but claims the simple cupcakes sell the most.

“I love being a part of the Fernie Mountain Market,” says Becky. “And being known by many of the children I meet as the cupcake lady.”

Becky was gracious enough to share the recipe of one of her most popular fall cupcakes ~

Chai Latte Cupcake
1 cup soy milk
4 black tea bags
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Heat soy milk in saucepan over medium heat until almost boiling, add tea bags, cover and remove from heat. Let steep for ten minutes then remove tea bags and squeeze them gently a few times to extract any soy milk left. Discard tea bags. Measure the soy milk and tea mixture and add more soy milk to make 1 cup.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, whisk together oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and tea mixture until all yogurt lumps disappear. Sift the dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mix until large lumps disappear, some small lumps are okay. Fill tins full (an ice cream scoop is very helpful here) and bake about 20 to 22 minutes until a sharp knife inserted comes out clean. Remove from pan after 5 minutes or so and let cool on wire rack. Makes 12 cupcakes.

1 cup butter
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
grated fresh ginger to taste
ground cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger to taste

Cream butter in stand mixer or with electric mixer until fluffy and white, add sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla and cream and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy. Add ground spices and fresh grated ginger to your liking, I usually use about half a teaspoon of each spice and a teaspoon or 2 of fresh ginger. This recipe will make enough icing to ice 36 cupcakes so prepare to have leftovers or half recipe.

Pipe or spread frosting on cupcakes. I like to top them with a chunk of cinnamon stick.