Sunday, May 1, 2011

Maypole Cupcakes

I got the idea for these cupcakes when I was visiting Munich's Viktualienmarkt and I saw this huge maypole. 

I had just come from the Wir Machen Cupcakes shop and must of had cupcakes on the brain syndrome.

In this part of Germany May trees have a love connection. When a young man likes a young woman, he proves it by decorating a small birch tree and puts it on her roof in the middle of the night by May 1st as a surprise. The tree stays up for one month.When he comes back to take it down, if the young woman likes him back, he may be rewarded with an invitation for dinner, a cake baked by the girl's mother, a case of beer or even a kiss. Last year I woke up to the surprise of my own May tree decorated in my favorite colors.

That Dr. B is so cute.

Maypole Cupcakes

You Will Need:
  • Cupcakes, any flavor. I used the vanilla cupcake recipe in the Hello Cupcake book.
  • Buttercream, any flavor that is easy to color. I used Magnolia Bakery's recipe for Vanilla Buttercream.
  • Green Food Coloring. I used Wilton's Leaf Green.
  • Medium sized pretzel sticks.
  • Blue and White store bought or homemade fondant. I made my own (recipe below.) I also made the flowers out of fondant by tinting it different colors with Wilton's Red, Orange, Violet and Rose Pink food color gel. However, you can use any edible material to make flowers.
  • Small flower cutters
  • Edible yellow and orange sequins for the flower centers
  • Edible gold dust
  • 1 tablespoon clear drinking alcohol (I used Vodka)
  • Small paintbrush
  • A little water

  • Make cupcakes and cool completely.
  • If necessary trim the peak off the top of the cupcake to make it more level.
  • Insert a pretzel stick into one of the cupcakes. Measure about 3 inches from the top of the cupcake upwards. Snap off the rest.
  • Use the part of the pretzel you snapped off to measure the amount to snap off the other pretzels and trim them.
  • Make an indentation in the pretzel  with your fingernail and pull the pretzel out of the cupcake.
  • Roll out the blue and white fondant and cut into strips.
  • Take one of each color, lay them side by side and starting at your fingernail indentation, roll the pretzel wrapping it all the way up to the top. Wet the fondant slightly to make it stick. Use this first one to measure how far to wrap the fondant strips, repeat with the rest.
  • when all the pretzels are wrapped, roll fondant into little balls and stick them on the tops of the pretzel sticks. Insert them into the cupcakes. I had some leftover brown colored fondant I used for this
  • To gild the fondant pole toppers, dip the paintbrush in alcohol and wet the ball. Then dip the brush into the gold dust and paint the ball gold.
  • Make the buttercream and tint it green. I did a smooth coat first on the cupcakes, then went back over each with a piping bag fitted with a grass tip. The tip kept clogging so I kept rinsing it. As a result, my grass ended up a bit soggy.
  • Take one strip blue fondant. Anchor one side to the top of the pole using a bit of water.  Twist the strip a few times and anchor it at the bottom to the edge of the cupcake. Repeat one either side of the cupcake with a white strip.
  • Roll out the fondant colors you want to use for flowers and cut out the shapes. 
  • Use a bit of water to adhere the sugar sequins in the middle and place them on the grass. Mine are a bit out of proportion. I tried using smaller sugar ones but these larger ones looked better.

For Homemade Fondant

  • 1/2  bag (1/2 pound) marshmallows (minis melt faster but you can use regular sized ones as well.)
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 pound of powdered sugar
  • Crisco or shortening
  • plastic wrap or cling film
  • Gel or paste food coloring
  • Cover the inside of a heat safe bowl and a wooden spoon with Crisco or shortening.
  • Place marshmallows and water in the bowl.
  • Microwave the marshmallows for 30 seconds at a time stirring the mixture in between with the wooden spoon.
  • When the mixture is the consistency of Marshmallow Fluff, stir in 3/4 of the powdered sugar one cup at a time.
  • Cover your work surface with powdered sugar and cover your hands with Crisco or shortening.
  • Dump the fondant on the sugared surface and knead the rest of the sugar in.
  • Separate the fondant into different parts and color as desired by adding a few drops of gel colors at a time and kneading it in until the color is evenly distributed and you get the color you want. 
  • Wrap each piece in plastic wrap until you use it.
  • Wrap leftover fondant tightly in plastic cling film and store in a zip lock bag.
Happy May Day!


  1. You know, I've always wondered whether real live may poles exist anymore....these cupcakes are amazing! I feel like I'm really in the "May Day" spirit now. If only I had a pole to run around...

  2. Such beautiful handiwork - I have always had disastrous results with fondant.

  3. Aw what a sweet post, Its very cute you got your very own may tree. These are such pretty cupcakes, so bright and colourful. I really love the ribbons.

  4. I love the pretzel idea! And what a lovely story :) Next time I'm visiting friends in Munich I will have to pay a visit to that cupcake shop!

  5. So sweet. Love your inspiration pictures too!

  6. These cupcakes are very neat, love the decorations! Happy may day!

  7. O.K., now I'm SQUEE'ing over these cupcakes. Too cute!

  8. You are such an artist! Wonderful cupcakes.

  9. What an amazing love story with the decorated trees. I love hearing about traditions like this. Dr. B. is perhaps extremely cute but he has tough competition with your cupcakes! :-)

  10. What a lovely post, this made me smile. I love your Maypole cupcakes idea, really sweet!
    I had never heard about the Maypole custom from your region, so thank you kindly for sharing! I can imagine some pretty Frauleins might have a veritable forest sprouting from their rooftops on May Day!

    I do remember dancing around a Maypole when I was in Girl Scouts, back in the States... I had no idea of it's 'connotations' back then. :)

    Hugs and quiches from Kitty x

  11. Never knew of the maypole tradition in germany, how sweet. Lyn


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