Saturday, June 19, 2010

Oh, Sugar Sugar


I have been having somewhat of a bakers block recently when it comes to coming up with cupcakes.  Some things have been on my list for quite a while to make, but I just haven't gotten around to trying them.  Besides, shouldn't I be using the dozen plus cupcake/cake books that I own?

I decided for another recipe out of my All Cakes Considered book.  I really liked the pound cake that I made from it for my dinosaur cake.  This time I chose a brown sugar pound cake.  I changed it a teensy bit and turned it into cupcakes.  I also used the recipe to make a cake, so I am not sure how many cupcakes this would make.  Probably several dozen....

brown sugar pound cake cupcakes

Brown Sugar Pound Cake - Adapted from All Cakes Considered
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/2 cup) - room temperature
  • 16 ounces light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line cupcake tins with paper liners.
  2. Add the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Cut the butter into tablespoons and cream the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy in a large bowl.  This will take several minutes
  4. In a small mixing bowl, add the sugars together and combine them with a whisk.
  5. Slowly add the sugar mixture to the butter while mixing on medium speed.  Keep on mixing until the sugar has been incorporated into the butter.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time.  Mix well after each addition.
  7. Add the vanilla to the milk.
  8. Alternate adding the dry mixture and the milk-vanilla mixture to the butter-egg-sugar bowl.  Mix well on low speed after each addition.  Once everything is added, mix on high speed for about a minute to get the mixture homogeneous.
  9. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling it about 2/3 full.  These cupcakes will not rise all that much.
  10. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  11. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for five minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
This recipe makes a fabulous pound cake.  Brown sugar is an ingredient that definitely isn't used enough (although it is used in my Guinness Cupcakes). 


These would be good without any frosting and a dusting of powdered sugar on top.  I went with Wilton's vanilla buttercream.   I know that my mom is going to frown when she reads the recipe because it uses shortening, which is not the greatest for your arteries.  I did have some left in the pantry and it does give the icing a nice consistency.  However, you can just substitute butter for shortening.

Wilton's Buttercream - makes about 3 cups
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pound confectioners sugar (approximately 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Add the shortening and butter to a large bowl (or bowl of a standing mixer)
  2. Mix on medium speed until they are combined.  It will be a sticky mess if you use the shortening.
  3. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  4. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup at a time.  Mix well after each addition.  After every two additions, aerate the frosting by kicking up the mixer speed to high for about 10 seconds.
  5. The mixture may look dry after all the sugar has been added.  Add the milk and keep on mixing and it will become nice and smooth.
  6. According to Wilton, this frosting can be stored in the fridge for 2 weeks in an airtight container.  Simply get out your mixer and fluff it up before using it again.

I made swirls with a Wilton 1M tip and sprinkled some pearlized jimmies that my aunt got me for my birthday.  I must say, if you want a lot of cupcake and baking related gifts, start a cupcake blog :):)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Birthday Elephant

Birthday Elephant

Today is Anuja's birthday.  You may remember her from her photo cameo in Bollywood Cupcakes.  Anuja likes the color pink.  She also likes elephants (even though penguins are way cuter).  For her birthday, I made her a special cupcake featuring this little guy:


It was my first time making any sort of figure out of fondant.  I used the Wilton pre-colored fondant in pastels and used brown sprinkles for the eyes and tip of the trunk.  I wish that I had broken him down into steps so that I could show you how I made it... but I am not really sure what I did.  I started with the head and then just went from there.  I am very happy with how he turned out!

birthday polaroid

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Sara Cupcake


I'm back on inpatient pediatrics.  I wanted to bring in something special to share with my team for our first call together.  I didn't want to make something too sweet as we start at 6:30 AM, but sweet enough that it would still be a treat in the evening when things are busy. 

I decided to adapt a recipe from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook.  It has somewhat of a yogurt base, giving it a tangy feel, but still has butter.  This was my first time using almond meal, and I'm very happy with the texture of the cupcake.  I added some cherries... for health reasons (just kidding).  I named these after my roommate because she said that they were her favorite that I have ever made.  I knew that she would love them because it's not too sweet and has some of her favorite ingredients. 


The Sara (Yogurt & Honey with Cherry) Cupcake - Adapted from Crabapple Bakery - Makes about 4 dozen
  • 18 ounces plain yogurt
  • 1 cup + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks)
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 cups almond flour
  •  1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 pound frozen cherries (or fresh pitted cherries)
  • 1/2 cup flaked almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line cupcake tins with paper liners.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, almond meal, and sugar into a large bowl.  Use a whisk to combine ingredients.
  4. Put the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla into a small bowl.  Pour the melted butter into the bowl.  Whisk until well combined.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the large bowl of dry ingredients.  Use a mixer on medium speed or use your muscle to stir together the ingredients so that they are completely combined.  Be sure to get the dry ingredients that are hiding at the bottom of the bowl.
  6. Stir in the cherries and flaked almonds.
  7. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter (these cupcakes will not rise all that much, but do not overfill liners).  Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
    As I mentioned, they aren't super sweet.  I therefore wanted to pair them with a nice and sweet frosting.  I chose to do a vanilla bean buttercream.  I purchased some vanilla bean paste and I love it!  I got the idea for it from Cupcake Project.  It's a great way to to get vanilla bean goodness without paying 4 dollars a bean.  You just use a teaspoon of it in place of one vanilla bean, and then your product will have all of those beautiful specks of black AKA the calling card of the vanilla bean.  You can buy it online, or it's at Williams-Sonoma.

    Vanilla Bean Buttercream - Makes about 4 cups
    • 3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
    • 1 pound (4 cups) confectioner's sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds of one vanilla bean)
    1. Beat the butter on medium speed until pale and fluffy.  This will take a few minutes. 
    2. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup at a time.  Mix well on medium-high speed until well mixed.  Every once and a while kick up the speed to high and let that butter spin to get it nice and airy.
    3. Add the vanilla and beat on high speed until completely incorporated into the frosting.

    It wasn't enough for me to bring in cupcakes.  I had to decorate them, too.  I found this cool fondant punch kit from Wilton and decided to make little flowers out of them.  It was super easy to use!  Simply take a small piece of fondant and color it using gel colors.  I used Wilton Violet and Wilton Leaf Green.  Roll out the fondant on a clean surface sprinkled with corn starch and punch away (the kit comes with very clear instructions).  I then used a gold dragee for the center of the flower.  It makes the cupcakes look professional with very little effort.


    Even my attending enjoyed the cuppies... two of them, in fact:

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Butter Cake Cupcakes

    Two cupcakes

    As I mentioned in a previous post, I love my new book Cake Love.  My mom once told me that I should never skimp on good ingredients for baking.  She commented that a lot of work goes into baking, so why cut corners?  Warren Brown of Cake Love shares a similar philosophy.  He also goes so far as to say that cake is a decadent treat, so don't skimp on using butter or sugar.  

    simply delicious
    I found these Paula Deen cupcake liners at Michaels for a dollar!

    I made his buttercake recipe over the weekend.  Yum yum yum!  It made a TON of cupcakes!  They tasted amazing right out of the oven sans frosting, too.  I just changed it up a teensy bit because I don't keep brandy around the house.  Two comments on the ingredients.  First, I have a lot of potato starch left over from my Passover baking adventures, but Bob's Red Mill makes it, too (and available online in bulk here).  Cake Love recipes ten to exclusively use extra-fine granulated sugar.  It might be in a carton where you find the "regular" sugar in the grocery store, or you can just put that "regular" sugar in a blender for a little bit to make the sugar particles extra-fine.


    Yellow Butter Cake Cupcakes - Adapted from Cake Love - Makes 24 regular cupcakes and 12 mini-cupcakes

    • 1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons potato starch
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1  cup + 1 tablespoon half-and-half
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 3/4 cups extra-fine granulated sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    1.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line tins with paper liners.
    2. Add the flour, potato starch, baking powder, and salt to a medium bowl.  Use a whisk to mix the ingredients together.
    3. In a small bowl, add the vanilla and half-and-half.
    4. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer), cream together the butter and extra-fine sugar on low speed until completely combined.  This will take a while, which is why a standing mixer is nice if you happen to have one.
    5. Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, mixing well on low speed after each addition.  
    6. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the liquid ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture.  Try to do it in about 4 steps, but being exact isn't necessary.
    7. Once all of the ingredients are combined, mix for an additional 30 seconds on medium speed to ensure that the batter is well-mixed.
    8. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full of batter and bake for approximately 20-22 minutes for regular cupcakes and about 15 minutes for mini-cupcakes.  The top of the cupcake should spring back when you push on the top and may turn slightly golden on top.

    To continue with the butter theme, I used the Italian Meringue Buttercream recipe from the same book.  I have made several kinds of buttercream, but not Italian.  It involves creating a sugar syrup, combining the syrup with meringue, and then adding a pound of butter.  It was a lot easier to make than I thought it would be.  You definitely need a candy thermometer, however, to properly make the syrup.


     I am not going to post the recipe because I didn't alter it at all.  Martha Stewart has her own version of Italian Meringue Buttercream here.  I liked the Italian Meringue buttercream a lot more than Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  It still has that light, buttery taste but is sweeter.  It's great for piping, too.


    I had actually made some of the cupcakes look like little ants on grass carrying raspberries, but I was so annoyed with the fact that the ants were not anatomically correct that I couldn't bring myself to photograph them.  I took an entomology class in college, and who knows how baking enthusiast entomologists are out there....


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