On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

Waitangi Day–New Zealand Day


We have a public holiday coming up on the 6th February. Waitangi Day is the day the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. New Zealand became part of the British Empire. Woo hoo!

Actually Waitangi Day is a bit of a shambles. Many Maori feel they were cheated out of what was theirs before the British came along and traded all manner of things for land.

Generally the Prime Minister gets ambushed when visiting Waitangi for Waitangi Day “celebrations”. Eggs are thrown and abuse hurled. Often very unfriendly words are spat out and as Prime Minister you would never visit without bodyguards. I wouldn’t like to be in such a volatile environment.

For many New Zealanders it’s a day off work, when the day falls on a week day that is. Unlikely most other countries, New Zealand doesn’t transfer the day and Monday-ise it. If it falls in the weekend then too bad for those Monday-Friday workers.

I don’t really go in for all the debate about whether the Treaty of Waitangi was a fair deal for all involved. Let’s face it, they’re still arguing after all this time, and I find it a bit tiresome.  Just decide once and for all and let’s get on with living in harmony, a peaceful country that is united. I am a very proud New Zealander.

When I left New Zealand in 1997 for Australia I thought that I was never going to return to New Zealand, the country I knew would always be home for me. Before I left, I got a tattoo. I got the Silver Fern. I was “branded” with a symbol that would be recognised as New Zealand. I thought if I ended up dead in an alleyway the authorities would know where to send my body. Seriously, that’s what I thought.



New Zealand has such an affinity with the Silver Fern. There’s the All Blacks, Black Caps, Silver Ferns, Tall Blacks, Black Ferns, Black Sticks, Black Sox and I could go on. Most of our Sports people will be found wearing a black and white uniform with the Silver Fern front and centre. So black and white is an obvious choice for a “colour” pallete for Waitangi Day.

Making Black icing is not difficult, but it takes a bit of patience to get the colour right. I made a Chocolate Buttercream and added (lots of) black gel colour to it.

I wanted two-toned for obvious reasons. I’d looked at YouTube during the week and observed several different ways of getting the right two-toned effect. I tried two of the ways and the first way was the clear winner in my mind.

This is the first way. I put the black buttercream in a disposable piping back, snipped off the end, then piped a line of black icing up the inside of my main piping bag, like a seam, then spooned vanilla butter cream in the bag. This gave me a much finer two-toned look. I had hoped the black would colour all the way around the cupcakes but it seemed to pipe out in the same spot each time, no matter which piping technique I used.

Icing Practice

I even practiced some Rose swirls and other techniques on a plate first. The day was so warm, at least in the kitchen, and I found the icing slumped a bit. This after I’d had it in the fridge trying to help it set up a bit better.

This next photo is the second technique. I tried this with the left over cupcakes after finishing photographing those I’d already iced with the first technique.

Less prefered two-tone icing technique

You can see there’s quite a difference. The second technique, at least with black, looks a bit butch. This was having put black icing in the icing bag and squishing it all around so the entire inside of the bag was covered, then opening up the bag and spooning the vanilla buttercream icing in. And piping as per usual.

Although I’ve made chocolate cupcakes once before, I wouldn’t say it was “the best” recipe (there was nothing wrong with it though) so I looked for another.

The recipe I picked was more out of interest. The method of mixing the batter was a bit over the top but I wanted to see how it would come out. I wanted to know whether all this fussing about was worth it.

Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients

Waitangi Day Chocolate Cupcakes, cupcake recipe by Lemon Sugar


  • Cupcakes
  • ½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. coarse salt
  • 225gm butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1¾ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • Black Frosting
  • 250gm cream cheese
  • 55gm butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa (just normal baking cocoa)
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • Black gel food colouring (assumes you’re going for the same look)
  • Vanilla Frosting
  • 250gm cream cheese
  • 55gm butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp vanilla essence)
  • 4 cups icing sugar


  • Heat oven to 175˚ deg Celsius. 
  • Prepare cupcake pans with with paper liners. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
    In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and the sugar over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally to combine until the butter is melted.  Remove the mixture from the heat.
  • Transfer the melted butter and sugar mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. 
  • Beat on medium-low speed, 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled.
    Mix in the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each addition. 
  • Mix in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated. 
  • With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined.
    Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ of the way full. 
  • Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking.
  • Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • Frost as desired.
  • My Notes:

  • I made 22 cupcakes out of this recipe.
  • The Vanilla Frosting is enough to cover all of the cupcakes with a tiny bit left over, but it will depend if you’re more heavy handed with piping or not.
  • I only made the black frosting so I could make a two-toned frosting. I could have taken a little bit of the vanilla frosting and coloured that, but I have another project tomorrow that will require the frosting I made today.
  • When you put the melted butter and sugar into a bowl for mixing, start slowly. I ended up with melted butter flying out of the bowl and finding me a target.
  • I really dislike recipes that call for an egg yolk or egg white leaving you with the other half of the egg. But I have a pav to make on Tuesday and with the extra egg whites I’ll have from this weekend I’m not left wondering how to use the leftover egg white.

Domed Cupcakes

The cupcakes smelt so good when they came out of the oven. Such an intense chocolate-y smell. The texture was beautiful. Lovely and soft with a fine crumb. Pretty close to “the best” for my likes.

Chocolate Cupcake

I’m not really much of a cupcake person, despite having made them quite a few times. So the rest will be sent home with my sister for her family.

I know I’m a bit early, but Happy Waitangi Day my fellow Kiwis!

Silver Fern Flags


4 thoughts on “Waitangi Day–New Zealand Day

  1. These look sooooo impressive. Looking forward to tomorrow when I get to take some home to sample with the family. Bet they are delicious too 🙂 You are extremely talented!

    • In order to get the lid on the Tupperware container I’ve had to take the flags out. Your lot can feel like they’ve climbed Mt Cook (more appropriate being a Kiwi themed post) and put the flags atop their cupcake 😉 Hope you enjoy them.

  2. Lovely looking cupcakes- with the black tip going right around and minus the flags, they would look extremely elegant. I have been noticing postings around the blogs for formal dessert tables – especially for very young birthdays which makes me giggle – but these would fit right in. Love your blog – it is so honest and real.

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