Orange and Blue, Illinois!
Eric and I have something really important in common…we both bleed Orange and Blue! Fighting Illini Orange and Blue, that is! Not only is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where we met, it’s also where we got to know each other, fell in love, had the time of our lives, and eventually got engaged (about a year after I graduated). It is so very near and dear to my heart. Lifelong friendships and lifetime loves were forged there in it’s hallowed halls. I have been known to get a little teary eyed remembering all the good times we had there, especially now that we live so far away from the friends we gained while we were there.
Champaign, IL is not a particularly glamourous place to be. The opposite really. It’s in the middle of a cornfield, it’s ungodly windy for whatever reason, and it always seemed a bit dirty and rundown. In fact, I’ve have heard the word “Dump Hole” used to describe it. Okay, so I maybe I coined the phrase myself to describe it. LOL! What can you expect…college students come in, trash the place for four years, then leave and never go back. It has improved ten fold since I graduated though. (Chipotle?? Cold Stone??? STARBUCKS!!! Whatever, man! When I was there, we had the world’s most disgusting Burger King and an abandoned Wendy’s building. Can you say JEALOUS??) Despite all it’s faults, and my extreme jealously over how nice it’s getting, I love that place. LOVE it!
Well, we don’t even live in the state of Illinois anymore, so it’s not like we get back there very often. We can keep ourselves connected by tuning in to our beloved Fighting Illini when football season starts. Thank YOU, Big Ten Network, for curing our Displaced Fan Syndrome. Up until this year, we couldn’t even get the score of our game on any given Saturday, let alone actually SEE it on TV. Hawkeye Country…BLECH!
So, if you know anything about the Big Ten, you know how bad Illini football has been. Boy, did they SUCK for a few years there. I mean really, really bad. Awful. Worst team in the Big Ten. Last year, out of nowhere, they seemed to miraculously improve! HOORAY! So, they are no Ohio State or anything (although…who was that that beat #1 OSU last fall…who was that…wow, I can’t remember…oh, that’s right! WE DID!)
I was excited for the Big Ten opener last night, so I wanted to make a fun treat to have while we watched the game last night. I thought maybe my baking vibes would bring them some good luck…sadly, Penn State outplayed them and we lost. 😦 We started out strong, but then there were a couple of costly penalties there in the first half that they just couldn’t seem to come back from. I have to admit I’m slightly concerned for the rest of our season as I don’t want to see dumb mistakes lead to lost football games that they should win. We have to at least beat the Hawkeyes!! That’s all I ask…please, please, PLEASE let us avenge last year’s monstrosity at Kinnick.
So, I was brainstorming my Illini-themed treat and thought It’d be a lot of fun to incorporate our school colors…orange and blue! I’m not big on sugar cookies and icing and that sort of thing, so I wanted to come up with something else. Hmmm…what to do, what to do?! I thought about cupcakes, because they are my favorite thing to bake but just tinting the icing didn’t seem like anything all that exciting either.
In the end, I decided on a twist on the classic red velvet cake. We all know the red part of red velvet cake is just red food coloring…who says it has to be red? Why not green…or purple…or ILLINI BLUE!! 🙂 And so, my Illini (Orange and) Blue Velvet cupcake was born!
Now, Illini blue is a very deep dark navy, so I knew it was going to be a challenge concocting up a navy blue cake with just food coloring. In the end, I was so excited how they came out! The color is just about right on. I ended up using two .3 oz bottles of blue and one red. I was so enthralled with the food coloring, I forgot to add the vanilla to the batter and I missed it in the final product. The frosting was yummy too. I thought the cake was a tad dry, but that could have been because I overbaked my cupcakes a little bit. I always have trouble with the time conversion when changing cakes to cupcakes. I brought in the orange by decorating with M&M’s. You can try this with your team colors for your next tailgate!
ILLINI (ORANGE and) BLUE VELVET CUPCAKES: (Recipe adapated from: Food Network.com – Emril Lagasse)
- 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 .3 oz bottles of blue food coloring, 1 .3 oz bottle of red food coloring.
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line muffin tin with baking cups. In a medium bowl or on a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk. Beat in food coloring and vinegar, then add vanilla. Spread the batter evenly in the pans.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack to cool.
FOR THE FROSTING:
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
- 1 pound box confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter. Beat in confectioners’ sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Frost cooled cupcakes.
And just for fun, here are a few pics of campus.
My lovely dorm at ISR! I still remember where my room was! 🙂
Illini Union on the Main Quad.
Altgeld Hall. A lovely building except for all the Math that goes on inside there. HA!
November 6, 2003…Brother’s on Green…the night that changed HISTORY! (As in, the night I met Eric)
May 1, 2005…Alma Mater statue at Wright and Green…the day I SAID YES!