Monthly Archives: August 2009

Just Another Cupcake

Vanilla Cupcake with Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Cupcake with Buttercream Frosting

I really have no business posting anything about cupcakes given what’s out there about cupcakes these days, but I had fun baking and icing these with my son today, so there.

We used a boxed vanilla cake mix and added a couple of teaspoons of vanilla for good measure. Then we made a traditional butter icing with 1 box of confectioner’s sugar, 1 stick of butter, 1/4 cup of milk and a couple of teaspoons of vanilla. We added 5 drops of red food coloring and 1 drop of blue to get this version of pink icing. Iain was excited to add sprinkles we had leftover from Christmas. Red, green, and pink: my favorite color combination.

For cupcake inspirations with a lot more heft than mine, check out:

Sprinkles Cupcakes – The original cupcake bakery. Located in Beverly Hills, it is credited with igniting the craze. The site has truly inspired gift ideas.

Dainty Cakes LA Blog – An online cupcake delivery company. They sell homemade style gourmet cupcakes, cakes, cookies, pound cakes, and other desserts. The photos are to-die-for!

Cupcakes Take the Cake – Most likely, the #1 blog about cupcakes, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Nichelle Stephens and Stacie Joy keep you coated in sprinkles with the latest in cupcake trends, news, recipes and more. They have a link list with virtually every cupcake bakery in the world. Incredible.

Cupcake Project – When Stef volunteered to make cupcakes for her friends’ wedding, she didn’t know she would become one of the leading baking bloggers out there, but she did. She’s fearless. She’ll make a cupcake out of almost anything.

Or check out this video from the Culinary Institute of America demonstrating how to make a Cupcake Bouquet.

Vanilla Cupcake with Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Cupcake with Buttercream Frosting

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

I’ve been making this Zucchini Bread recipe my whole life. Although, it has been awhile . Zucchini was on sale for $0.49/lb the other day, so I knew that I was going to revisit this old favorite. I’ll never forget making this recipe in France in 1987. I was a 16 year-old student staying with a French family for the summer and I was eager to share my American culinary culture with them. I made Maryland Fried Chicken one day and another day, I made this zucchini bread. Their impression of it? Trop sucré. (Too sweet). I was baffled at the time, but my adult taste agrees and I’ve cut 1/2 cup of sugar from the original recipe. My French hosts also couldn’t understand why I wanted to spend time cooking for them, when I had an opportunity to experience French gastronomy for six weeks. Well, then as now, I guess I just couldn’t help it.

My Childhood Recipe Notebook

My Childhood Recipe Notebook


Zucchini Bread
Makes 2 medium loaves

Ingredients

3 eggs
1.5 cups sugar (in 1987 it was 2 cups)
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
dash of freshly ground nutmeg

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar, zucchini, oil and vanilla. Mix lightly but well (with a spoon).

2. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients.

3. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture (in batches) until blended. Don’t over mix.

4. Bake for 1 hour.

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Strawberry Coulis Infused Pancakes

Strawberry Coulis Infused Pancakes

Strawberry Coulis Infused Pancakes (Dairy Free)

These might look like buckwheat pancakes, but the color comes from the strawberry coulis that is in the batter, not from buckwheat flour.

With strawberries still in season and on sale here in California, I couldn’t resist trying something new and a little decadent with them. I’ve been thinking about putting the strawberry goodness right into the pancake rather than just spreading jam or syrup on top. The result? A bright, light pancake with lots of flavor. The strawberry coulis replaces the milk which makes for an interesting twist. Also, instead of baking powder, this version uses the acid from the orange juice mixed with baking soda to get the fluffy rise needed for a good pancake. Also, in this rendition, the eggs are separated. The whites get whipped up into a wet froth and folded into the batter at the end. This helps make the batter smooth and shapely as it goes into the pan and gives a light, bubbly texture to the finished pancake.

Batter with the egg whites folded in

Batter with the egg whites folded in

Strawberry-Coulis Infused Pancakes
Serves 2

Strawberry Coulis

7 large strawberries (CA large), sliced in half
Juice of one small orange
1 tsp orange zest (optional) – gives pancake a little bite
2 Tbsp confectioner’s (powdered) sugar

Purée all ingredients in a blender and push through a sieve (to remove the strawberry seeds). This makes almost one cup of coulis – enough to put coulis in the pancakes and pour some on top. Set aside 1/2 cup for the recipe and chill the rest.

Pancakes

1/2 cup strawberry coulis (see above)
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Method

1. Start heating your pan under medium heat. Having the pan fully and evenly heated helps make even the first pancake come out just right. Beat the egg yolks with the strawberry coulis and set aside. Mix all of the dry ingredients.

2. Beat the egg whites rapidly with a whisk until the are stiff, but not so stiff that they would stay in the bowl if you inverted it. It takes about 2 minutes of serious whisking.

3. Stir together the dry ingredients and the coulis/egg mixture until completely combined, but not overly mixed. Fold in the egg whites. Again, don’t over mix. You just want to get the egg whites incorporated.

4. Drop a dollop of butter into the pan and allow it to melt, but not brown. Drop one ladle full of batter into the pan. Allow to cook until edges appear less shiny and bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Transfer to a warm plate. If not eating immediately, keep in an oven heated to 250˚F. Garnish with fresh strawberries and serve with additional strawberry coulis.

CA strawberries are in season

CA strawberries are in season

Marbled Cupcakes – Chocolate Brownie + Vanilla Swirl

Chocolate Brownie + Vanilla Cupcake Swirl

Chocolate Brownie + Vanilla Cupcake Swirl

I got it into my head the other day that I just had to make marbled cupcakes. I don’t know why. I scoured the internet for techniques but in the end, I just invented my own. I needed to use what I had on hand in the pantry and I didn’t have any buttermilk or orange peel or almond extract or baker’s chocolate or lots of other things that the recipes were calling for. So I improvised. I made two batters: one was a version of Mark Bittman’s (again?!) Golden Layer Cake batter from How to Cook Everything and the other was a pre-packaged brownie mix batter to which I added an extra egg. The extra egg in the brownie batter made it light enough to co-exist with cake batter in a cupcake. I spooned the golden batter into the cups first then added a large dollop of chocolate brownie batter. Then I simply swirled a knife through with a circular and upwards motion. Once baked and cooled, I iced them with a basic butter cream frosting and added some sprinkles. I don’t have any cake decorating tools, so my icing job looks pretty amateur (at best), but I’m learning.

Marbled Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Cupcake

Marbled Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Cupcake

Marbled Cupcakes – Chocolate Brownie + Vanilla Swirl
Makes 24 cupcakes

Vanilla Cake Batter

1 1/4 sticks butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk

1. Cream the butter until smooth. Add sugar gradually and continue to cream for 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one completely before adding the next. Then beat in the vanilla extract.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk into the butter mixture, incorporating each completely before adding the next.

Chocolate Brownie Batter

1. Follow the instructions on the packaged brownie mix, but add one extra egg.

Assembling the Cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray two cupcake pans with cooking spray and insert paper cupcake liners.

2. Spoon in enough vanilla batter to fill about halfway up each cupcake liner. Then spoon in a heaping tablespoon of the chocolate batter. Take a knife and swirl it through the batter with an upward motion at the end. Don’t stir too much or the batters won’t remain delineated.

3. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. An inserted toothpick should come out clean. Cool on rack. When completely cool, ice with a simple buttercream frosting.

Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter, softened
1 lb package of confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk (more or less)
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Cream the butter. Alternate adding sugar and milk, beating everything to a smooth, creamy texture. Beat in vanilla. Adjust thickness by adding milk or sugar, but remember that putting it back in the refrigerator will also thicken it up.

Marbled Cupcake

Marbled Cupcake

Blog Widget by LinkWithin