Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A tale of three cupcakes.

It was a messy job...



But somebody had to do it.




I was "hired" this week for the first time ever as a baker. Who cares if it was my grandma who hired me? Or that I was just making cupcakes for her book club? A job's a job, and you've got to start somewhere. Besides, her book club is huge. It's been around for 40+ years and has like 100 members, but only 30 or so meet at a time. They even have a rule book. These book clubbers don't mess around.

Anyway, my grandma "hired" me to bake cupcakes for her to bring to the next meeting. So I baked for two nights straight, and iced on the third. It was half-way through my icing job that I got a sudden wave of self-consciousness and thought about calling grandma and telling her I quit. It's one thing to bake for my family all the time, but baking for strangers is a whole new thing for me. Besides, my icing wasn't looking right, the cupcakes were all different sizes, and some of them had gotten kind of wonky during their stay in the freezer. I was just sure that these book clubbers were going to judge me and my cupcakes and talk about me behind my back. Book clubbers can be vicious, you know. Then my mom told me to get over it, and she reassured me that book clubbers are nice people, and they will love me and my cupcakes because everyone likes grand-daughters and cupcakes. And that "homemade" look is much more charming than store bought any day.

So I decided to keep going.

I made three different cupcakes: vanilla with vanilla buttercream, chocolate with vanilla butter cream, and red velvet with cream cheese icing. (Oh my!) All were easy to make, but each required a few ingredients I didn't have on hand, which means that after all was said and done, I only made about $10 profit. But that's okay. I had a happy grandma, and now I can pretty much call myself a professional baker, right?


Vanilla with vanilla.....

Chocolate with vanilla....


And red velvet with cream cheese. My favorite.

Oh what? You want the recipes? Well, okay, but please, stop begging, it's very unbecoming.

Vanilla Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 1/2 c. self-rising flour
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs, at room temp.
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

. In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside. (I measured them, dumped them in a bowl, and stirred together with a whisk. A fork would work too.)
. In a large bowl of electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. 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. After each addition, beat until incorporated, but don't over beat the mixture. Scrape down the sides with a spatula as needed. Spoon the batter into lined cupcake pans, filling them about three quarters full. (Or all the way, if you want big cupcakes like mine) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (20 minutes was plenty for me)

Chocolate Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temp.
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

.To melt chocolate: place chocolate in microwave save bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. OR use a double boiler, but I never do.
.In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
.In large bowl of electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate and mix well. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla, beating well after each addition, but be careful not to over beat. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Spoon batter into lined cupcake pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes. (Again, 20 was enough for me)

Red Velvet Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350.
3 1/3 c. cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 c. sugar
3 large eggs, room temp.
6 T. red food coloring
3 T. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

.In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. (Isn't cake flour already sifted? I sifted it again, anyway.) In a large bowl of electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
.In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. (I ran out of food coloring after 3 T., but cupcakes were still really red. I also don't know why these three things need to be whisked together before adding to batter. I think adding them straight to batter would be fine, and save you the hassle of cleaning one more bowl.) Add to batter and beat well.
.In a measuring cup, stir salt into the buttermilk. (Again, I'm not sure what this accomplishes, but I did it anyway.) Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour, being careful not to over beat after each addition.
.In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula as needed.
.Spoon batter into lined cupcake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes. (20 minutes for me)


Icing:
Vanilla Buttercream, Annie's way:
2 sticks butter, softened. Salted or unsalted. It's your call.
1 box (1 lb.) powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-3 T. milk

Mix all ingredients with electric mixer until well combined. For thinner icing, add more milk. All measurements can be adjusted to taste.

Cream Cheese Icing, Annie's way:
8-12 oz. cream cheese
1 stick butter, softened. Salted or unsalted.
1 box powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-3 T. milk

Same directions as the vanilla buttercream. Add more cream cheese if you really want that cream cheese flavor, or more powdered sugar if you like it sweeter. Both recipes can be easily adjusted to fit your personal tastes. That the beauty of icing!

After baking, icing, and tasting all three cupcakes, the winner (in my book) is: Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Icing!



Whew. I know that was a lot at once, but I've got lots of awesome things to tell you all about all week, so I thought I'd get the sweet stuff knocked out all at once. Stay tuned!

Graces:
1. Driving Carme's beastly truck for the next 5 days, despite the huge gas tank.
2. Honey Bunches of Oats.
3. Lightnin' Hopkins station on Pandora.
4. "What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." Ralph Waldo Emerson
5. My sweet dogs.

1 comment:

  1. Annie, these look amazing! And I'm sure they tasted even better!

    ReplyDelete