Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sometimes you feel like a Nut...

Wow have times been crazy in our household! Between trying to get healthy, trying to start a business, trying to finish school, and working a fulltime schedule, its crazy! Top that with my beautiful baby sister due this week and you have a recipe for unsound sleep and sore muscles LOL. That didn't stop me from baking and going to my first cupcake store!

First, I visited Katie's Cupcakes in Bellingham. It was so good! Cute lil shop with nice girls. Met Katie herself and was the first to try her new Strawberry Shortcake cupcake. Its a cupcake filled with strawberry jelly and topped with cream cheese. I gotta try that one myself! We also tried her coconut cupcake, the very vanilla cupcake, and the mocha mocha cupcake. The Mocha was good, but really sweet and I think they used coffee flavoring in the icing instead of strong coffee. I give it a 7. The coconut was kinda dry, encouraged me to set out to make a better one. Its a 6. The strawberry shortcake was to die for. Its a 9. The vanilla were perfect. They had great texture and sweet frosting. Another 9. They also had milk with free refills just cause. Loved that! Go visit and try for yourself!

On to my cupcake, Coconut with Buttercream and shreaded coconut. Ok so I said last weeks was my favorite. I lied. Its this one.

Best texture yet, not dry at all, and fill it with pineapples and mango and you have a tropical treat. Theres even finely ground coconut in the batter! Oh and coconut milk in the batter and the buttercream. TOTAL WIN.

Soon I'll take on Seattle, til then I'll enjoy these :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Suger and Spice

Some Sundays are better than others. Today was an excellent Sunday. I woke up bright and early and made the Husband breakfast, watched entirely too much TV, studied for a few hours, cooked my famous pot roast, and made these fantastic cupcakes. These are Martha's snickerdoodle cupcakes with buttercream and cinnamon sugar sprinkle. My favorite cookie is now my favorite cupcake, so far :)

Its a cinnamon cupcake, which by itself is amazing. I made my icing with no better for once and for these it gave it a real fluffy texture. There's not much to say about it, no real method. Just good food.

Next weekend my blog will be longer and, well, better. I'm going to be doing a tour of cupcake stores in, wait for it, Seattle. I know, its like an hour south BUT its got like 6 strictly cupcake places. I can't wait!

What other cookies would make good cupcakes?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Better Late than Never

Ok so its Thursday but here we are so better late than never.

I got a request to do a Pineapple Upside-down Cupcake. They were FANTASTIC!

I started with butter and brown sugar cooked on low til mixed well. I spooned that into the cupcake cups. Next I carefully placed pineapple rings in each cup. I had to trim them, it all worked out :). Next, I added a basic yellow cake to the top and cooked them for what seemed like FOREVER. I think with the brown sugar butter and pineapple it may have been a little wet. In the end it turned out heavenly. The brown sugar gave the outside a crisp bite and the pineapple was almost melted. I used pineapple juice instead of milk in the cake and it turned out great. Hit with adults, kids, not so much. One asked where the icing was. I felt like saying "JUST TASTE IT !!!" but I didnt. If I was a kid I wouldn't have tried it either. I'll make these again, no changes.

I'm taking a decorating class for cakes. Its not as easy as it looks :) Here's my first cake:

If I had more time it would have worked out better. From watching the others in my class I did pretty good. :) I'll practice before class next time so I can just whip it out fast.
Next week I PROMISE to be better. I have to do cupcakes for my next class so I'm thinking lemon.....maybe :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mondays with Martha :)

Due to the long holiday weekend (Happy 4th!) I decided to bake on Monday. I did some red, white and blue cupcakes but due to lackluster results decided not to post them. I know, Lame. I didn't like the taste and the look was, well, boring. Oh, and they also were not "Martha" cupcakes, so the charm would be lost. At any rate, today I did "Devils Food" cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream. I have to say, nothing beats a chocolate cupcake. I love chocolate. I know tons of chocolate fans. And other than the German chocolates I did last week, this was my first chocolate on chocolate cupcake. I loved the results!
The recipe was a diversion from the normal. It had you melt the butter and sugar together over medium heat then transfer it to the mixer to cool while being mixed. I had never done that before. It then had you add the eggs after the butter "whipped cool" for 5 minutes. Next you added the unsweetened coco mix that you stirred til limp free in some hot water. Then you alternated sour cream and flour/baking powder/baking soda/salt mixture til just combined. Lastly, you added a touch of vanilla. It was kinda interesting and made a fairly fluid mix. I filled my cups around 2/3 to 3/4 full. I wanted them to dome well, because I wasn't going to pipe on the icing. I have discovered that my oven bakes slightly faster than the recipe, i.e. my 20 minute bake times are more around 18 minutes. So I baked them at 350 for 18 minutes. They came out perfect.
My icing was fairly simple. Milk, powdered sugar, unsweetened coco, and butter. Very little butter actually, just 6 tablespoons. It ended up very chocolate-ty and sweet, which was good with the not as sweet cupcakes. They balanced well.
If you pick up the book and want to try this recipe I suggest the following:

-Use very good quality Unsweetened Coco. I think that helped my cakes and icing taste deep and refined, not over sweet and light on chocolate flavor

-Study the recipe and take your time to ensure you have everything out before you start. For example most recipes spell out "in the mean time get blahblahblah ready for the next step". Martha assumes your very smart and read the entire recipe before you start and doesn't bore you with such helpful blabber. I learned that in the first recipe and that helped me feel more in control this time.

-Use good quality bake ware. I know any old pan will do but when your trying to achieve a truly perfect cupcake the pan really does matter. Even heating is key.
So there you have it. My cakes came out moist and spongy- my favorite type. And the icing complimented the cake perfectly.

My Wilton cupcake pan. Its heavy and perfect!

Invest in a stand mixer. This is a cheaper Hamilton Beach and it does a great job! (Also note the vintage kitchen, lovely right?!?)
The picture sold me on this one!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Have your Cake...

First post are always the hardest huh. Do you say Hi There! to no one? Do you introduce yourself to people who probably already know you? I think I'll start by explaining my project. I'm a budding cake chef. I say budding because I have no formal training and I just decided one day a few months back that I wanted to try it out for a year and if after a year I love it and I'm good at it then I'll pursue a career in it. So good. Now, what type of cake you ask?

Cupcakes. Everyone loves a cupcake. Its small enough to not ruin your diet but big enough that you really "just want one, thanks". Its kid size, adult size, the perfect size. You can eat them naked (no frosting), covered (globbed icing), or all dressed up and decked out (fancy stuff). You can add fruit, candy, filling, marshmellow, veggies, whatever, and make awesome, one of a kind treats, that wont break the bank or the belt.

I picked up the book "Cupcakes" by Martha Stewart a few months ago and was intimidated at first. I wasn't exactly Betty Crocker and when I was, it was because Betty helped. I felt like maybe I needed to take a look at making things "from scratch". As I flipped though this treasure trove of cuteness I was intimidated. I couldn't even figure out how to make a vanilla cupcake with vanilla icing and they want me to do lemon poppyseed with orange glaze! So I put the book away, settling to figure out how to make vanilla on vanilla. After many trials and failed internet recipes, I came across a winner and figured out how to make great tasting buttercream. Now to where we are today... I found the book again!

Now while flipping though it I thought, "Gee I can do that". And so I did. I had such a blast stepping out of my box that I decided to do the whole book, one or two a Sunday. "Why Sunday" you ask? Well, two very good yet very different reasons. I work hard all week at a job that's 8:30-5, then I workout for an hour, then I fix dinner, then I study for college that I attend part-time. You get the picture. Sunday is the only day that things such as baking and laundry can even have a chance of happening. Two, my husband takes my treats to work with him so I don't eat 24 cupcakes. Most are best just overnight.

Today I took a fan request (a guy Hub works with) and made German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Icing. Its basically the tried and true recipe that your Mom used to make. Well not my mom, she was superwoman raising three girls, working several jobs, and going to college. But somewhere I'm sure someones mom made it who has mad time on their hands. This is not one of those treats you just "whip up".

First I made the icing because my sweet darling husband decided to make a cobbler too. I guess I have to share my kitchen, its his house too. Into a sauce pan on medium went packed light brown sugar, condensed milk, butter (the real stuff) and 3 egg yokes. I did the egg separating by hand and I have to say it wasn't so hard. Once that had gotten a little thicker I strained it with a very fine strainer (which took forever) and came up with something that looked and smelled like thin caramel and was really tasty. To that I added coconut and salt and vanilla and CRAP I forgot to toast the pecans. I rushed and toasted the pecans while I carefully stirred my caramel coconut icing. If it got too cool it would be hard to mix them in. I had Hub cut the nuts into tiny pieces and added them to the icing. It was PERFECT. Someones mom would be proud!

The cake was pretty simple, just a chocolate cake with a little extra vanilla. I put them in cups 2/3rds full and popped them in the oven for 20 minutes til springy. The cake came out with a great texture, super fine. It might have been the extra sifting I did with already fine cake flour? I dunno but it was fantastic. It was a touch dry, I'll add a bit more buttermilk in the next round. All in all it got then thumbs up from hub and I enjoyed them too.

I added a few pictures. Day one, success. Next week, hard telling. Its either going to be Zucchini or Carrot Cake. Vote?