Monday, December 18, 2006

Cupcake Baking Session

So Rav, Anjali and I had the best baking session on Friday. Yes, we spent a Friday night baking. We are the ultimate in cool. Below is a picture of us at a party (just to prove that we do go out - sometimes).

After a very fun trip to Whole Foods and a purchase of a wonderful hard cheese- Gruyere D'Alpage (nicer than the cave aged one we got to sample from the nice cheese man at the counter), some jalapeno pepper jelly and cream crackers, we got down to baking.

We used the Magnolia bakery recipe. It is very simple and basic in its ingredients- butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs (room temperature!), milk and flour. Here is the recipe:

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes (depending on the size of your cupcake papers and muffin tins)
CUPCAKES:

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

ICING:
Vanilla Buttercream (recipe follows) or Chocolate Buttercream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. At the bakery they ice the cupcakes with either Vanilla Buttercream or Chocolate Buttercream.


We also tested some silicone muffin trays. They are flimsy and need to be placed on a baking sheet or will fall over in your oven. Yes, this happened to us. But they were from Dollarama so really, bonus overall. They turned out pretty good and clean up was easy afterwards.



Obviously, the best part of the night was decorating. We experimented with food colouring. After some peer pressure from the peanut gallery we added far too many drops and ended up with some very bright flourescent coloured icing!




Anjali and I quickly learned that we were not the master decoraters we envisioned we could have been. We teamed up to make some decent looking cupcakes. Our individuals efforts were more like "lowered expectations." (Actually, Anjali got pretty good, I hit an ultimate low when trying to ice a cupcake with my finger). Rav had this icing decotating tube contraption with different nozzles for varied effects. That was also fun to use! I think once we realized the icing was too runny and added more sugar things got back on track.




<---- "lowered expectations"





Rav is my hero. This girl's artistic abilities are remarkable. See for yourself:










Here are some of our other creations!









Anjali and I totally yoinked most of Rav's creations when we pakced some up to take home!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cupcakes

I am a die hard cupcake fan. How can anyone resist these sweet, little, delectable treats!

Here are some good cupcake shops I have been to:

The Hummingbird Bakery in Portobello Road in London, UK. (shown in picture).


They have small little delicious cupcakes with buttercream icing. Not too sweet and very satisfying. It will convert a cupcake hater!


Magnolia Bakery in Manhattan. These need to be eaten fresh for full enjoyment. They are very rich and very sweet. Looking at them may cause cavities. If you don't mind waiting in line it is a fun experience to get some. There is a lovely old-fashioned feel to the shop and the baked goods. Check out the cakes below and the bakers icing them!











The Little Pie Company (a chain) in Manhattan. These were great cupcakes! All the flavour and none of the pretention. Plus they have an icing surprise in the middle!

The Black Forest Pastry Shop in Downtown Oakville, Ontario. They only have chocolate but the decoration is beautiful and they have icing in the middle too!


The Cupcake Shoppe in Toronto. It is a beautiful little shop! They don't sell all of the flavours posted on their website everyday which was disappointing. The cake was nice but the icing left more to be desired. They are nicely decorated and have very fun names. Good ones included "Sleepless in Toronto" which had coffee icing and "Eh?" which had maple frosting.
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