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Entries in cupcakes (63)

Tuesday
Feb012011

Cake Byte: Robicelli's Pretty Much Rules

Image: Blondie & BrownieThis is not breaking cake news to most of you who are in the know.

But.

Robicelli's pretty much rules. 

The name was not new to me, but when CS buddy Meaghan, who not long ago relocated from Seattle to Brooklyn, clued us in on Robicelli's Chicken & Waffles Cupcakes (" Vanilla “waffle” cake, vanilla buttercream, buttermilk soaked fried chicken dunked in pure Vermont maple syrup" ), it led to a little clicky-click over to their website, where we discovered even greater treasures.

First, how about the El Guapo (not to be confused with the sandwich by the same name at Seattle's HoneyHole Sandwiches) made up of "Sweet corn cake, cilantro lime buttercream, Iowa yellow kernel popcorn"...

...or the Creme Brulee--"vanilla cake, pastry cream buttercream, caramelized sugar"...

...but if that doesn't strike you as quite extreme enough, for your consideration, the Hot Josh Cupcake.Described thusly:

I really have no words to describe the Hot Josh. It’s a culinary acid trip; something that engages you, messes with your head and at the end of it all is completely unforgettable.  I actually feel a little abused by this cupcake, to tell you the truth.  It’s like that time I saw that movie where at the beginning I totally thought I knew what was going on, then I thought that there was going to be a twist and I had figured it out, then by the end I was just COMPLETELY wrong and was so confused and disoriented by the whole experience that I was rattled to the bone for days.  I still cannot see anything about “Maid In Manhattan” without shuddering just a little.

Why does this rule so much? Not necessarily because of the savory flavors. They might not be your thing with cupcakes. Truthfully, as a sweets enthusiast, I personally might not reach for a chicken and waffles cupcake (I'd prob'ly go for the Creme Brulee first!), but I respect and thoroughly enjoy that sense of adventure and experimentation in baking. Keep on doing what you're doing, Robicelli's!

Want more? If you're in NYC, follow their day-to-day goings-on via their twitter and Tumblr feed. If not, go ahead and track them the same ways, and put them way up on your to-do list next time you visit the Big Apple.

Thursday
Jan202011

Let it Snow, Man: Snowman Cupcakes from Bredenbeck's Bakery, Chestnut Hill, PA

Winter got you down? Well, here's a way to add some sugar to the cold, dark days: Snowman Cupcakes!

Snowman-ify the cupcakes of your choice with this super-easy tutorial from Philadelphia's Bredenbeck's Bakery--not only is it easy, but it's fun and delicious when you're snowed in.

Here's how you do it.

You’ll need:
  • A dozen of your favorite cupcakes
  • 16 oz. vanilla icing
  • 22 oz. (two packages) white chocolate chips
  • Red shoestring licorice, black gel icing, candies for decorating
  1. Start with your favorite cupcake recipe and bake according to instructions
  2. Flip your cooled cupcakes upside down, and spoon a dollop of icing on top to add height
  3. Place the iced cupcakes in the freezer until icing is firm
  4. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler
  5. Place frozen iced cupcakes on a wire rack
  6. Spoon melted white chocolate over top of iced cupcakes, allowing excess to drizzle through wire rack
  7. Wrap a few pieces of shoestring licorice around for a scarf, create a face, nose and buttons using the black gel icing and candies.

Of course, if you make them, share your pictures with them on the Bredenbeck's Facebook Page for sweet snow day fun!

 

Thursday
Jan132011

Cake Byte: Velvet Elvis Cupcakes for January from Cupcake Royale

Elvis is Dead.

But--you know--not in our hearts. Or bellies, what with the likes of the Velvet Elvis, the Flavor of the Month at Seattle's Cupcake Royale.

That's right: in honor of what would have been (or...was! shun the nonbelievers!) Elvis's 75th birthday, the Cupcake Royale Crew is serving up banana cupcakes topped with a rich peanut butter chocolate fudge frosting--need I say this is a cake fit for a king? 

Or, you know, you. At least for the rest of the month of January!

Keep updated via Cupcake Royale's twitter account and their website! 

Sunday
Jan022011

Live and Let Pie: But Please Don't Let the Cupcake Die

Poor cupcakes. They've been the subject of so much foodie scorn lately: from NPR's battle cry of "Cupcakes are Dead, Long Live the Pie" to the New York Times' headline "Pie To Cupcake: Time's Up" to the derision on the Serious Eats forum about best and worst food trends of 2010. The message is clear: if you're a cupcake, you've gone the way of Von Dutch Caps, Ugg boots, and gaucho pants. You're out. The truly fashion-forward would never indulge (at least publicly).

And I can see the point. It does seem like new cupcake shops are cropping up at a rate not unlike re-animated brooms in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. And with cupcakes being offered at mass-market eateries such as Red Robin, Cinnabon, and Au Bon Pain, it's hard not to look at the cupcake without having "jumped the shark" type thoughts. 

And undoubtedly, the ubiquity of cupcakes will falter. Like the cookie shop fad that started with Mrs. Fields in the 1970s but began to fizzle with the recession of the 80's, this cupcake shop phenomenon is bound to have an arc. The weak will not survive, but maybe we don't want them to (because there's no bigger bummer than a bad cupcake).

But here's the thing. Cupcakes are cake, and that will never go out of style.

Let me tell you a brief story to illustrate my point.

One ill-fated year, before cupcakes or pie were trends, before Magnolia Bakery was an institution, I unwittingly made what turned out to be a major life decision: I decided to have banana cream pie instead of cake or cupcakes for my birthday party. What can I say? I was going through a phase.

The reaction from the party-goers was swift, and fierce.

"What the hell is this?" said one wide-eyed child (really).

"Where's the cake?" asked a confused parent.

"Is this to go with the cake?" said another child, hopeful, but with a slight tinge of panic in his voice.

Unfortunately, no, there was not a cake to go with that pie. And although the pie was perfectly serviceable--even better than good, as I recall--somehow, the experience left a bad taste in my mouth. And it wasn't forgotten by my so-called friends, who were quick to inquire the next year: "will there be cake this time?". Every now and again it would come up in conversation, too: "remember that year you had pie instead of cake for your birthday? What was up with that?". It was the biggest birthday shame I ever suffered. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I love pie. I love it enough to have had it for my birthday one year, and enough that I was even hired as pie recipe consultant for a newly opened Seattle bakery. I love it on a plate, in a cake, in a shake, on a stick. I, like, totally embrace pie.

But I'm not convinced it takes the cake.

Here's an idea: why don't we just let pie and cake get along? Pie on some days, cake on others? Or embrace diversity by combining them, as in the case of the Pumpple Cake or the Pake?

Or maybe we should just skip right to the good part and combine all of the "next big thing" desserts, mixing up a slurry of macaron-cupcake-artisan-ice-cream-whoopie-pie-salted-caramel-bacon-chocolate...and baking it up in a pie shell?

Come to think of it, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

But before I busy myself in the kitchen on that task, let me conclude: Cupcakes=good. Pie=also good. But all the same, please don't call me PieSpy.

Sunday
Dec262010

Violet and White: A Snowstorm, Plus SpyMom's Vanilla Cupcakes With Lavender Buttercream Recipe

The snowflake is totally not photoshopped! I actually (accidentally) captured it on film!Guess what? It is snowing in New Jersey. Like, a lot. In fact, to the point that we've been nostalgically recalling the Blizzard of '96. A real post-Christmas miracle!

But wait, there's more to this miraculous day. You do not need to worry about the SpyCrew starving in the snow, because SpyMom made cupcakes. Delicious ones, based on Magnolia Bakery's recipe (now, I personally am not a Magnolia naysayer, but SpyDad is, and even he said that this homemade version had a leg up on the original), but with an added element of pinkies-out-ness from lavender coloring powder to the frosting, and candied violets (edible!) used as garnish. 

Want a piece of this holiday magic in your own home? Here goes:

SpyMom's Christmas Miracle 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

For the frosting 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Violet food coloring, such as this one from Wilton
  • Edible candied violets

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
  4. 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, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. 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 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  5. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  6. While they cool, prepare your frosting. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

 

Friday
Dec102010

Cookies, Cakes, Oh My: Sweetness from JustJenn Recipes and Designs

Photo: JustJenn DesignsSo, two things.

First, this recipe comes from the same person who designed the pins to the left. They say "I Like Big Bundts". Now that is hilarious!

But wait, there's more!

When Jenn sent me a parcel of said pins, she also sent a four-pack of some of the most amazing things I've put in my mouth recently: Cookie Cupcakes.

What are they, exactly? Cookie? Cupcake? The answer is YES. And deliciously so, on both counts. Served in cupcake liners, these are cakey, decadent cookies that are so full of butter and chocolate chips that you'll totally be ok with the lack of frosting. For reals.

Want a recipe? OK. You can also find it on JustJenn Recipes (that and so many more!).

Cookie Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Procedure

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prep a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Once combined, add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla.
  4. Alternate the flour mixture with the milk until combined. This will look like cookie batter!
  5. JustJenn Note: Cinnamon Chips are hard to find, but so worth the hunt. They are made by Hershey’s and as far as I can tell in the Los Angeles area they are only sold at Alberton’s. So weird! If you can find them – get them, you won’t be disappointed.
  6. Now fold in the chocolate chips and cinnamon chips.
  7. Fill your liners about 3/4 of the way full.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes until toothpick test says they’re done! Let cool on a wire rack.
Thursday
Nov042010

Tour de Sweet: A Chicago Cupcake Run With Ryan's Baking Blog

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post chronicling a very sweet visit to Chicago from Cake Gumshoe Ryan, whose sweet adventures can be followed via his great site, Ryan's Baking Blog! All of the text, photos, and opinions reflected below are his--read on, and enjoy! 

I'm in Chicago until Friday (then I leave for San Francisco) and was super excited to grab some delicious cupcakes. I've had a few bakeries recommended to me and I tried out a bunch so far. Chicago

Molly's Cupcakes 2536 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614

I only have one picture for this section (photo pictured top), I wasn't sure if they wanted me sitting there photographing the whole store and everything so I just focused on the cupcake. I also didn't ask if I could photograph so I was trying to be sneaky (well, as sneaky as you can be with a big DSLR camera). This is a Chocolate Decadence cupcake. They have a ton of flavors ranging from this to peanut butter nutella, minty mash-up, peach cobbler, and so much more. This cupcake was amazing. Probably the best chocolate cupcake I've had. Honestly though, I think this one was meant to share. It is a chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling, chocolate ganache on top PLUS chocolate frosting with chocolate shavings. It is a lot of chocolate and every element is so good. The cake was super moist, the mousse was smooth and chocolatey, the frosting and ganache were perfect. The shop itself is great. It is pretty large and cafe style. They have a bar you can sit at that has SWINGS. Yes, like playground swings for you to sit on to enjoy your cupcake. They also have a bunch of tables and seats to sit at, some people were working on things and a few people were having conversations. It was a really comfortable atmosphere and the staff was really nice. If all that wasn't enough to convince you to go, they have a "sprinkle station". It was a counter with shakers filled with different kinds of sprinkles, like little stars and moons or dinosaurs, that you could top your cupcake with. I thought this was a great idea. I really can't recommend this shop enough, if I lived in Chicago I'd be here every day. They are also open super early and super late. Sunday-Thursday they are open til 10pm and on Friday and Saturday til midnight.

Bleeding Heart Bakery 1955 West Belmont Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657

I came here twice actually, unfortunately the first time I forgot my camera.

This is a terrible picture and does not do this cupcake any justice. Like I said, I forgot my camera and had to use my blackberry. I had the Veruca Salt cupcake (above), a salted caramel cupcake with caramel filling and FOUR kinds of salt. It was amazing. The cake was dense in all the right ways, the caramel filling was delicious, the frosting was so smooth, and the salt added a ton of great flavor. My friend had a "Take A Hike" Scone, which was pretty much a trail mix scone, and he loved it. They also have a variety of vegan cupcakes in a lot of flavors. The staff was super nice and helpful, my friend had a ton of questions about the different items and the girl working knew everything.

I came back a second time to try a red velvet and I remembered my camera. I love how it was decorated and it was super delicious, a traditional red velvet. The frosting was super smooth and creamy, I don't have any complaints. The bakery has a very punk rock feel which I thought was great. They were playing punk music, had a ton of local flyers up and do a lot of community building and clearly care about the people that live in Chicago. The tables were cut out like cupcakes, there was a couch and coffee table by the front window, and they had pretty awesome shirts for sale (if I had more money to spend I definitely would have gotten one or five). They definitely make you feel comfortable. That is a big thing that I liked about both this bakery and Molly's Cupcakes. I felt like I should sit down and enjoy my cupcake there, it was a relaxing environment and very welcoming.

Sweet Mandy B's 1208 West Webster Avenue Chicago, IL 60614

Sweet Mandy B's is a bakery in Lincoln Park with a lot of pastel colors. Their frostings were all tinted light pink or light blue or another pastel and the shop had a cozy feel to it. It's has another section for an ice cream shop and that is where the seating is. It was hectic in there so I got my cupcake to go.

They had the normal flavors as well as orange and lemon and this french toast cupcake. It's cinnamon cake with maple frosting. This cake was made well, super soft and a strong (but not overwhelming) cinnamon taste. The frosting was a perfect consistency and it was just the right amount. It tasted exactly like french toast. They also offer a ton of cookies as well as cakes, puddings, and ice cream. It was easy to see why they had so many customers.

Sprinkles 50 E Walton St, Chicago, IL 60611

Everyone knows about Sprinkles. The first cupcake-exclusive bakery to hit the world. They opened in 2004 and have enjoyed a ton of success. Many of their cupcakes sport the signature dot that many people have come to recognize as Sprinkles. This was the cupcake shop I was most excited about for the obvious reason: it was the first cupcake shop and EVERYONE talks about Sprinkles. I planned on going twice during my trip to sample various flavors because of how much I've heard but I don't think I'll be going back, not even to try the famous red velvet everyone talks about.

This is the key lime cupcake, a summer exclusive flavor. The frosting has a STRONG key lime flavor and the cake has a more subtle but noticeable flavor to it. Both were delicious. The cake was extremely soft and fluffy, perfectly moist, and overall delicious. I was satisfied. This is the milk chocolate cupcake: chocolate cake with milk chocolate cream cheese frosting. I think the frosting really killed this cupcake for me. Maybe I'm just not a huge fan of cream cheese frosting but it wasn't that chocolatey. I wanted that candy-bar-milk-chocolate taste and I just didn't find it. This cupcake wasn't that pretty compared to the key lime I had. The cake itself was pretty good but it felt kind of doughy in my mouth. It makes me believe the Sprinkles cupcake craze is about decent cupcakes and a lot of branding. They aren't bad cupcakes by any means, but not the best I've had. The store itself has a very modern look to it. I really like modern design, especially in homes, but I like cozy cupcake shops. Mismatched furniture, comfy seats, someplace you can sit down and feel comfortable. Sprinkles only had four or five stools and a lot more customers than that, it didn't seem like they encouraged you to sit and stay.

More Cupcakes 1 East Delaware Place, Chicago, IL 60611

More cupcakes is a small cupcake shop in downtown Chicago. Literally small. It's a tiny shop without any chairs and a small table to stand and eat at. The cupcakes are displayed in a big glass box thing. It was a little confusing and the labels were tiny, I also couldn't tell what flavors they had that day..maybe they had all of them? I had a black and white cupcake, a vanilla and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and covered in chocolate shavings. I originally wanted a white velvet but wasn't sure if they had it (I only saw the display one). The cupcakes are taller than normal cupcakes and this one had a lot of frosting. It took three or four bites to get to the actual cake part and it was awkward to eat because of it's height. The cake was a little dry too.

They also had mini cupcake samples, I grabbed the chocolate passionfruit, chocolate cake with passionfruit frosting. I've never had passionfruit before and it turns out I don't actually like it. The man in front of me did sneak an extra sample so they must have been good. Not all the cupcakes had a ton of frosting so maybe some of the others are better. I started feeling a little sick by the end of mine though. As much as I hate to say it, I wouldn't go back there.

(CakeSpy Note: I should say that I too have visited More Cupcakes, and had a much better experience than Ryan; like so many things, it could have just been his visit, or different tastes. Any reader thoughts?)

In Closing

If you are in Chicago, go to Bleeding Heart Bakery and Molly's Cupcakes. If you're in the Lincoln Park area, go to Sweet Mandy B's. Try Sprinkles, maybe you'll like it more than I did, it ended up being more of a "cupcake history" kind of thing for me. And finally, if you're a frosting fiend, go to More. Or get one of their cupcakes without a ton of frosting.

Don't forget to keep up with Ryan's sweet adventures at Ryan's Baking Blog!

Wednesday
Oct202010

Cake Byte: Mini Bacon Maple Cupcakes by Mini Empire Bakery Now Available!

This revolution may be mini, but when it comes to flavor, these cupcakes are maxed out (now, just to clarify, when I wrote that I really intended for it to be said in a booming, "Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!" sort of voice).

That's right: Mini Bacon Maple Cupcakes by Mini Empire Bakery. Starting with a biscuity-cake base, these are topped with a rich daub of maple buttercream and topped off with bacon for a perfect sweet and salty union that tastes like a sort of breakfast-meets-dessert party in your mouth.

And they're available for purchase at Seattle Coffee Works downtown, and at Mioposto in Mount Baker! Or I'll bet if you asked really nice, they'd do a custom order for you too.

Find out more about Mini Empire Bakery on their website.

Sunday
Oct102010

Better Together: Beer Cupcakes With Chocolate Covered Potato Chips Recipe from Bredenbeck's Bakery, Philadelphia

Sweet or salty? Why decide, when you can have both--and beer, too--in one deliciously decadent cupcake parcel? Yup, that's right: Beer Cupcakes. Topped with Chocolate Covered Potato Chips. It's a recipe kindly donated by Bredenbeck's of Philadelphia. Awful or awesome? Maybe a little of both, in the best way possible. Make it happen at home thusly:

Beer Cupcakes Topped With Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 1 cup of Guinness® Draught
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking soda Pinch of cinnamon

Glaze:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/3 cup Guinness® Draught

Chips:

  • 1⁄2 pound high quality milk chocolate, chopped
  • 4 cups ridged potato chips

Procedure

  1. Make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large sauce pan over low heat, combine Guinness® and butter, stirring until butter melts. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cocoa powder and brown sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Combine with beer mixture. Sift together flour and baking soda, then fold into batter. Pour into greased muffin tin, filling each cup about 2/3. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and place on a wire rack to finish cooling.
  2. Make the glaze. With a mixer, whip cream cheese until smooth. Sift confectioner’s sugar into cream cheese, and beat. Add Guinness®, and beat until smooth. Apply to cupcakes using a flat spatula.
  3. Prepare your garnish. Place 3/4 of the chocolate into a heat safe bowl, and place over the top of a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate has melted, then continue to heat the chocolate to 110F degrees, stirring occasionally. As soon as the chocolate reaches this temperature, remove from heat. Stir in remaining chocolate until melted. Using tongs, dip potato chips one at a time into the chocolate. Place on waxed paper to cool. Once cooled, place atop cupcakes. Enjoy!

Of course, if you have no time—or desire—to bake your own Beer Cupcakes, you can stop into Bredenbeck’s Bakery and try their version! They're also busy baking all your favorite fall confections: pumpkin bread, caramel apple cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake with cinnamon whipped cream, carrot cake, s’mores pie and much, much more.

Thursday
Oct072010

Hummingbird Chronicles: Lemon Cupcakes Recipe from Hummingbird Bakery

English cupcakes come stateside!CakeSpy Note: This is an ongoing series of entries about (and recipes from!) London's Hummingbird Bakery by Cake Gumshoe Alexandra Levert, who is an assistant director for a French television network in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking and baking because she finds it comforting and yet challenging at the same time. She tries to combine her love of food and her love of travel as much as life will let her.

 One Sunday afternoon, my boyfriend, who has never been into cupcakes, decided to finally take a look at my Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. He started flipping the pages and landed on the lemon cupcakes page. He suddenly got all excited and said he wanted to make them. And right now. I was surprised, yet I wasn’t: he can never say no to a dessert with lemon. Suddenly, I was the one who wasn’t too excited about the idea of making them. Don’t get me wrong, I love lemon, but I always prefer chocolate to fruit in a dessert. This time though, I let him convince me and we went to the grocery store. 

Hummingbird Bakery Lemon Cupcakes

Recipe by Tarek Malouf, from Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook 

For the base:

 

  • 120g of plain flour
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • 1½  teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest, plus extra to decorate
  • 40g of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 120 ml of whole milk
  • 1 egg 

 

For the lemon frosting:

 

  • 250g of icing sugar (sifted) 
  • 80g of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
  • A few drops of yellow food colouring (optional but pretty!)
  • 25 ml of whole milk 

 

For the cooking process:

 

  • A 12-hole cupcake tray lined with paper cases 

 

So here is what I did:

 

  1. First, I preheated the oven to 325°F or 170°C. 
  2. Second, I sifted the flour and put it in a large bowl with the sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and butter. Then I used a handheld electric whisk, although you can also use a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment, to beat the first batch of ingredients together. I beat them on slow speed until I was certain all the components were combined. I gradually poured the milk in and continued beating so that everything was mixed in well. I added the egg to the first mixture and beat it in with the rest for a few minutes until it formed a nice, smooth blend. Now the next part tested my cupcake skills for the first time: spooning the mixture into the paper cases. To do so, I took two spoons: one to pick up a bit of the blend and the other to push it out of the first spoon and into the mold. I repeated that same action until all 12 paper cases were about 2/3 full. The tricky part was to try and keep the tray as clean as possible, by not letting any of the mixture fall anywhere but in the cases. It was harder than it looked, but I did it. One cupcake point for me! 
  3. I put the tray in the oven for 22 minutes, since the recipe said to leave it in for 20 to 25 minutes. What I did was I set my timer for 20 minutes, and then when it rang, I took a fork and inserted it gently into one of the cakes. When I took the fork out, there was a slight trace of cake on it, so I knew I had to leave them in for a few more minutes. So I waited a little bit, checked again and they were fine. I took them out of the oven and let them cool down completely. 
  4. After about 30 minutes, it was time for me to make the icing. First I beat the icing sugar, butter, lemon zest and food colouring with the same handheld electric whisk, but this time on medium-slow speed until the ingredients were well combined. Then I turned the whisk down to a slower speed while I poured the milk. After that, I turned it to high speed and beat the mix for about 5 minutes, until the frosting became fluffy enough. As Tarek Malouf said in his book: “The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.” 
  5. Then my now-favourite, yet the riskiest part of the whole process finally arrived: it was time to put the frosting on the cakes. The thing about cupcakes is that they are supposed to look pretty and appetizing, and this was my first time trying to do so. The best advice I can give you is just dig in but do it gently. Take a good amount of the frosting with a spoon, a knife or a small spatula and spread it evenly while rotating the cupcake. This will give you more control over what the end result will be like. And voilà! Your first cupcakes. MY first cupcakes! 

 

So what do they taste like, you ask? Well, the thing about Hummingbird cupcakes is that they are never too sugary, which is good for people who don’t have a sweet tooth. I found the lemon ones very flavorsome, yet quite subtle in taste. Lemon is not something you need a lot of in order to get the full taste experience. And it was the case with these cupcakes. 

Final words: In order to make the recipes with as much precision as possible, I would recommend using a weighing scale in order to measure some of the ingredients. I didn’t have one when I made this recipe, and I found it really affected the texture and consistency of the frosting. It was a bit too liquid, not overly but just enough for it not to stick to the base properly. Remember: You need good tools to make great cupcakes!

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