This Week's Adventure

Golden caramel cupcakes

Next June, my sister-in-law, hereinafter known as Izumi, is getting married. I told her I would gladly make cupcakes and a small couple’s cake for the wedding. She and fiance Sig happily accepted.

I am very excited (both about the cake and the wedding). I like making layer cakes, and she has picked out some pretty, simple options I think I will be able to pull of well. However, I haven’t made cupcakes in a while, and decided I want to practice. A few months ago, I got some piping tips, and I thought I would make cupcakes to bring into the office.

Even though I looked over the recipes the day before and made sure I had all the ingredients, things did not quite go as planned. But I did make some tasty cupcakes.

The classic yellow cake in TBC is a bit different than the one named so on their website; this moist yellow cake is almost the same, with just slightly different proportions. Based on ingredients I had, and the likelihood of my not having particular opportunity to make it in the future, I chose to do a caramel frosting from the book, which gets most of its flavor from cooked brown sugar.

I took care to get my butter and eggs to room temperature. However, my sister (hereinafter known as Winry) likes the apartment pretty cool at night, and I made these first thing in the morning. The butter was only just soft enough to beat. This is a butter cake assembled with the creaming method, so it was a solid six minutes or so with my trusty little hand mixer as things got light and fluffy.

Cake collage
Middle right: creaming after 1 minute. Bottom right: creaming after 3 minutes. Top left: creaming at six minutes, bowl scraped. Bottom left: eggs mixed in, looking like a lovely cake batter. Top right, stirring in flour.

Then I added the eggs–four, plus two yolks– and then alternated the flour and milk, beginning and ending with the milk. The recipe actually said I could use milk, buttermilk, or yogurt, so I added a bit of buttermilk powder. I have no idea if it had any affect.

I’ve noticed that since starting this experiment, my cake batters have been oh-so-much more fluffy. It is a delight to take snitches of batter from the bowl.

In the introductory section about cakes, KAF cautions to stir in the heavier flour and milk carefully. I folded the flour in with the spatula. I wish I had given it a quick mix afterward, because there were a few small lumps of flour when I scooped the batter into the cups.

Unfortunately, though the batter was just the right amount to make 24 cupcakes, KAF did not include directions in the recipe for how long to bake them, as opposed to a larger pan. Since I only have one muffin pan, I did 12 at a time and watched carefully after 15 minutes. 18 was just about right.

While they baked, I cooked the brown sugar, butter, and milk for the frosting together on the stovetop. It took a while for the brown sugar to completely liquify. After everything cooled, I stirred in a giant pile (1 pound) of powdered sugar. I added a little extra milk, as suggested, to make it softer, and it started to look like frosting.

frosting collage.jpg
Bottom right: boiling sugar. Top left: adding the powdered sugar. Top right: mixed, needing a bit of milk to soften. Bottom left: My setup, scooping too-thick frost out of the piping bag.

This was the point the clock started staring me down, and I hurried to pull out a pastry bag and piping tip. Then I noticed my star tip was rather small to pull off the hydrangea look I wanted to try. No matter, I decided. I would just see how piping went.

Turns out, the frosting was still too stiff to pipe easily. Possibly the caramel recipe isn’t particularly suited to it. So, I decided to go with an artistic, swirly smear. I had just enough time to frost everything, get dressed, and run to work. Most of the cupcakes were gone by the end of the day.

cupcakes.jpg

The cake itself if rich and eggy, not too sweet. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it. It turned out the caramel was also a good choice with it because it’s very sweet, balancing the two. It also held up really well in shape. I’m a person who typically only likes creamy, not-too-sweet frosting, but I thought they worked well together. Some maple extract might be a good addition.

I feel a bit more confident about cupcakes, but I’m going to have to find an excuse to make another batch once I get the right frosting tip. I’m hoping I’ll have lots of opportunities to bake for people at the new church we’ve started attending.

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