With company due for the weekend, I decided to make a batch of cupcakes. I love cupcakes. Don’t leave me alone with a package of grocery store cupcakes if you want to see them again. But I don’t think I’ve ever made cupcakes before. There are two cupcake recipes in The Book, and I chose the one with the word “Easy” in the title.
This recipe promises to be as easy as a mix, but much better tasting. The process for bringing the batter together was uneventful, but certainly not as easy as a mix. The cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt are mixed. Eggs and vanilla are whisked and the sugar is added to the eggs and then the melted and cooled butter and then buttermilk. Then the flour is added in batches. I really think I followed all the instructions as written. The final warning is not to overmix or the cupcakes will be tough. I was really careful to just bring it together.
I had decided to make half a batch of dark chocolate frosting and half cream cheese. I started with the dark chocolate variation of the “Quick and Rich Vanilla Frosting.” This involved the hand mixer, lots of butter, confectioner’s sugar, and melted dark chocolate. It wasn’t exactly difficult, but it was messy and got a lot of bowls dirty. Plus I kept finding bits of dried chocolate frosting in weird places in the kitchen afterward, like caked on my oven mitt.
The cream cheese frosting, on the other hand was so easy I laughed. All I had to do was throw cream cheese, butter, sour cream, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar in the food processor, press the button, and presto there was yummy icing.
The finished product was disappointing on several levels. I was not wild about the chocolate frosting. It tasted like boring milk chocolate to me. Maybe it would have been better with a little more confectioner’s sugar, but I’m not sure. I’ll probably end up making this recipe again in one of its other variations, so we’ll see if it’s just the chocolate that didn’t quite make the grade or whether there’s something wrong with the basic frosting recipe.
The cupcakes themselves were really dense. The first one I tasted, immediately after frosting it, seemed ok except for the very top and bottom being a little chewy. But on Saturday when we ate them, they were about the consistency of cornbread. The flavor was good, but they were just really dense. We tried to play recipe detective and figure out what went wrong, but we remain unclear on that. According to the book it is the combination of buttermilk, baking soda, and baking powder that give the cupcakes lift. I know I put the right amounts of both baking soda and powder. The only thing I can think is that maybe the buttermilk I used wasn’t fresh enough. It was still good, but it had been in the fridge for a week or so. But other than that wild guess I just don’t know what happened. I compared this recipe to the dark chocolate cupcake recipe and almost totally different in both ingredients and procedure. So I guess we’ll see how other cakes from the book go.
Then again, it may just be the curse of the non-baker. I think I’ve decided my least favorite thing about baking is the clean up. Whenever I’m done with a baking recipe there’s flour and possibly sugar scattered all over the kitchen and it seems like every measuring device and bowl I own is dirty. I need a sous chef to run around behind me and clean as I go. Hmm, perhaps that what husbands are for. Remind me to bake on the weekends from now on.