31 January 2009

Cupcake Calamities

This cupcake tastes like crap. Well, maybe that's an overstatement. This cupcake tastes like eggs. It's the same taste that I recall from my childhood when I demanded homemade cupcakes and then asked later why they tasted so much like chicken. I suppose that is one of the perils of making homemade cupcakes. Since the cupcake tasted so bad, I decided to use that entire batch to practice frosting cupcakes and it's mostly not pretty. This is why I decided to cover it in ugly pink nonpareil zits... erm, I mean sprinkles.

I took the recipe from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook and was disappointed. The cookbook is really hit-or-miss and this time it was MISS with a capital everything. It seemed simple enough:

Yellow cupcake recipe
1.5c cake flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
6 tbs butter, melted
2/3c buttermilk

whisk together cake flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to combine. in the bowl of your pink KitschnAid StandMixer, beat eggs and vanilla and add in melted butter and sugar. Sift in the dry ingredients in 1/3 increments. Bake for 20+/-2 minutes in a 325deg oven. Makes 12 lackluster, eggy cupcakes.

Not wanting to have failed this cupcake challenge, I moved on to a different cookbook. A month or so after we moved to Austin, my great aunt mailed me her old cookbook that she used to share with her mother (my great-grandmother). I can't even tell how old it is, but it has colorful photos of crazy looking food, including pinwheel party sandwiches made from unsliced white sandwich bread and deviled ham spread. It makes my tummy hurt just thinking about it. Nevertheless, it seemed that this might hold the key to my cupcake conundrum and I found this recipe for silver white cake:
1 1/8 c cake flour
3/4 c sugar
1.75 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 c shortening
1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites

combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, shortening, and 1/3c of the milk on low speed for 30s. scrape-y scrape-y the side of the bowl. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Add in the rest of the milk and the egg whites and beat on high for another two minutes. Bake for 20 minutes in a 350 oven. Makes another 12 cupcakes, but this time less eggy, more crazy white.

These cupcakes were *pale*. I suppose all the yellow is taken out with the lack of butter and egg yolk. Most of the egginess was taken out as well, but it had a very delicate flavor that didn't really match well with the milk chocolate frosting that I made (which would have gone perfectly with the yellow cupcakes if they hadn't, um, sucked so badly).

Milk Chocolate frosting
10 oz milk chocolate chips
1 tbs corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 c heavy cream, boiling
1/2 c confectioners sugar
8 tbs butter, chilled

Boil heavy cream in a small saucepan. While it heats up, add chocolate chips, corn syrup, and salt into a food processor and process for a bit to break up the chips. Once the cream is boiling, remove from heat and pour into the food processor as it's processing. Once thoroughly combined, add in the confectioners sugar and then add in the butter in pieces. Once the mixture is thoroughly... mixed, remove from the food processor and chill for at least an hour before frosting so it can set up and cool down because you did just dump a boiling liquid into a food processor...

I think the frosting came out best of all, which is disappointing because I don't like chocolate. Although, now I at least know that I have a go-to chocolate buttercream frosting if I ever need one in a pinch.

So why all this baking? The best day of the year is coming up in exactly two weeks from today: MY BIRTHDAY!!! :) I'm having a birthday/valentine's day party on the 13th. It's one of those let's-celebrate-my-bday/vday-by-you-bringing-me-gifts-of-alcohol-which-you-will-then-consume sort of event. I want to make lots of heart shaped sweet things. Let me know if you want to come. :) Anywho.

In anticipation of all of this, I've been trying my hand at candy making in a rather unsuccessful way. It turns out that i can't actually read my candy thermometer because I'm dumb. Oops. I made fleur de sel caramel *hard* candies by accident (and I do mean hard) because one side of the candy thermometer is in increments of 10 and the other is in increments of 20 and the temperature that I want it at, of course, has no numbers but "terms". I was rather peeved, but the candy is still good (although it's filling-breakingly chewy.) However, I will give it another go and in anticipation of that highly anticipated post, I'll leave you with a picture that shows my candy making process. ;)


Joe said...

did you get a thermometer in Kelvin? tsk tsk...

Franny said...

If you make vegan cupcakes, there is no way they will taste like egg. Just a thought.

Get http://www.theppk.com/vegancupcakes.html , it is a great cookbook.

jkru said...

@Joe if I had gotten a thermometer in Kelvin, then maybe it would have made more sense, but I was aiming somewhere a little harder than "softball". It would have been nice to have, you know, numbers.

@Franny yeah, I don't think that those would pass inspection by the 'sband and he's the only one who really eats what I bake.