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Coffee (cup)cake

Workplace celebrations are a perfect excuse to bake. I can test out a new recipe and don’t have to worry about having leftovers. This was a great recipe to try for my first coffee cake – simple, few ingredients, and rather quick.

Here’s what you’ll need and how it’s done:

• ¾ cup white flour
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• ¼ cup butter, melted

• ½ butter, room temperature
• ½ cup sugar
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
• ½ cup sour cream
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1⅓ cups flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp baking soda
• 1 pinch of salt
• Several dashes of cinnamon

For the topping, mix the dry ingredients, then stir in the melted butter. Mix until well blended.

For the cake, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the egg and egg yolk, mix. Add the sour cream and vanilla, mix. Mix the dry ingredients together, then add them to the wet ingredients. Stir until just blended. Add the topping.

I added a layer of wildberry jam between the batter and the topping. Fresh blueberries would be another excellent option. Lots of possibilities!

Bake at 350°F for ~20 minutes for cupcakes / ~35 minutes for cake (8 inch pan), or until a tester comes out clean.


The recipe has been adapted from Anna Olson’s book Back to Baking.


Lemon cupcakes with vanilla and matcha tea frosting

I’ve made and blogged about lemon cupcakes a few times, like here and here, but I only now realized that I’ve never shared the recipe. I apologize, because I think this recipe is definitely a keeper. The cupcakes are easy to make, moist, and work well with several types of frosting.

Here’s what you’ll need and how to put it all together:

Lemon cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cream
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2+ tbs lemon zest

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Combine and whisk together cream, eggs, yolk, vanilla, and lemon.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixer. Beat until well blended.
Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the wet in two parts.
Scoop batter into a muffin tin and bake at 350F for ~15-20 minutes.
The top will start to crackle when it’s done baking. 

For vanilla frosting, you can check out my previous post on chocolate cupcakes here. For matcha tea frosting, check out my post on grapefruit cupcakes here.

Order for pie and cupcakes!

Yesterday, after a lovely day of work à la bibliothèque, I spent a few hours on an order for an apple pie and chocolate cupcakes. Obviously, I was thrilled about this. I love baking so much, but if I were to bake as much as I’d like to… well, you know what would happen. Getting baking orders gives me the chance to bake without having to eat everything. Score!

So, here’s what I had the pleasure of putting together yesterday:

Apple pie with weaved crust

Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing

The recipes for both of these items can be found by clicking on the photo titles, which will link you to former blog posts.

Looking for some snazzy baking tips?

  • Weaving your pie crust (yes, making your own pie crust is actually super easy) takes some patience, but is definitely worth the effort. Simply roll out the second half of your dough as normal, cut it into 1/2 inch strips, then begin weaving them on top of the pie. Start with one horizontal, then vertical, and so on, lifting alternating strips for each additional one you lay across. You can decide how tight you’d like the weave to be.
    • Extra snack: if you have pie pastry and a few bits of apple filling left over, roll out the pastry, cut it into strips, place an apple chunk on each 1/2 strip, roll it up, bake for 15-20 minutes. Mmmmmm. Mini apple pie bite.
  • Before baking, lightly brush the crust of your pie with cream or egg white, then sprinkle some of the cinnamon-sugar mixture used for the filling on top. This will make the crust golden brown and have a nice visual texture.
  • I would highly recommend making the slight extra investment in vanilla bean paste for icing. The flavour is much more natural and rich. I purchase mine online for about $12/4oz bottle.
  • Try to get your hands on at a few key piping tips. Having just a few tips will give you a huge variety of decorating options.
  • Do not refrigerate your cupcakes. Refrigerating will dry them out really quickly. Instead, consider placing them in a lidded tin or in a dish with plastic wrap on top.

** Also! I’ve added a page called “Custom” to my blog. The purpose of this is pretty self-evident. If you live in the Halifax area and would like to discuss a custom baking order, give me a ring or send me an email!

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese and ginger icing

While I was a bit rushed, I have to say I’m really happy with how these cupcakes turned out. I thought this would be a perfect recipe to test out for the potluck – it’s fall, it’s cooling down outside, and the leaves are slowly changing colour.

The base recipe I used for these cupcakes can be found here, but I adapted it as seen below:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup cooked pumpkin (pure can pumpkin could be used instead)
3/4 cup milk

Sift together all the dry ingredients.
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, mix. Add pumpkin, mix.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three stages, alternating with the milk.
Bake at 350F for ~20-25 minutes.

The cupcakes turned out to be really moist and flavourful.

I decided on cream cheese and ginger icing for the cupcakes. Here’s how it’s done:

5 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger

Cream together the cream cheese and butter. Mix in the ginger. Add the icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Tweak to perfection.

Remember that you can experiment with your icing. If the above doesn’t seem suited to your tastes or desired consistency, add more of the appropriate ingredient. Because this is a relatively soft icing, it’s hard to pipe. I would recommend spreading it onto the cupcake with a spatula. Remember to store these in the fridge!

I hope you try out this great autumn treat!  

Coming up: pumpkin cupcakes

I started a new job just two weeks ago and what have I learned? I learned how much I love workplaces/employers that value getting together to share a few delicious treats and snacks. Next Sunday there will be a potluck at work and there’s really no better an opportunity to try something new. I’ve decided to make pumpkin cupcakes – perfect to go with the chilly autumn weather that’s becoming more frequent here in Halifax (though it’s sunny today, YES!). The one thing I can’t decide on is the type of icing. I could go the traditional route and use cream cheese icing, but I’d like to try something a little different. Cream cheese and ginger perhaps? Just ginger? Some cinnamon? I have no idea where to go with this…

All that to say… it’s autumn now – happy autumn – and stay tuned!


Traditional chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting + decorating practice

Like I said in my last post, I’ve been wanting to switch up my cupcake decorating and experiment with some new icing designs. One design I’ve had my eye on for a while is this one that I found on the blog i am baker. Because I was more intent on experimenting with a new icing design than trying out new flavours, I decided to go back to my traditional chocolate cupcake and vanilla frosting recipes. This is actually, finally, for real my last baking post before the move. I’ll be packing up my kitchen tonight -_- 

I followed the decorating technique as described on the blog above, using #103 and #102 tips for the different colours. Getting the different shades of blue was easy – simply add a small amount of colouring gel to the icing, mix, load half the icing into a piping bag, add another small amount of colouring, mix, add the remaining icing into a second piping bag. Making this design is pretty simple, too, and just takes a bit of patience.

Here are the recipes I used:

Chocolate cupcakes
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3 oz melted dark chocolate
1 cup milk

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Add melted chocolate. Mix dry ingredients together. Add vanilla to milk. Start with 1/3 of dry into wet, add half of the liquid, repeat. Bake at 350F for ~20 minutes.

Vanilla frosting
4 oz butter, cold + cubed
1 tbs vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
3-4 cups icing sugar
2 tbs cream

Cream butter and vanilla bean paste. Add icing sugar, mixing well. Add cream and more sugar/butter to reach the desired taste and consistency.

Grapefruit cupcakes with matcha tea frosting in a half-packed kitchen

Baking is getting more and more challenging in the final weeks (less than two!) ’til my move to Halifax. Oddly enough, all I seem to want to do is bake for my friends that I’ll be saying bye to and bake to take my mind off the stress of moving. I’ve been putting off the packing up of my kitchen, since I won’t be able to do anything once my tools get  moved into their boxy homes for transport. Nonetheless, I still managed to whip up some cupcakes last night, while dodging boxes and finding substitutes for the tools I had already packed.

I found the recipe for these cupcakes on the terrific blog 17 and baking and have been dying to make them for months. Here’s the recipe as I adapted it:

Grapefruit cupcakes:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups softened butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
Zest of 2 grapefruits
2 large eggs + 2 large egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  2. In an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and grapefruit zest.
  3. Add the egg whites one at a time, beating well between whites.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in additions, alternating with the wet ingredients (coconut milk + 2 eggs + vanilla) and ending with the dry ingredients.
  5. Fill the lined cupcake tins 2/3 full and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Matcha tea frosting:
1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon matcha (green tea powder)
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoons milk or cream

  1. Beat the butter in an electric mixer on medium speed for a few minutes.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and matcha and mix on the lowest speed. 
  3. Then beat on medium speed and add the vanilla extract, then the milk.
  4. Depending on how thick you want your frosting, add more butter or milk.

I’m happy with how this recipe turned out, though in my head I had imagined them tasting a bit more grapefruit-y. I’m pondering a way to incorporate some of the juice of the grapefruit, in addition to the zest already used. I really enjoyed the frosting, though. It’s such a light flavour, perfect for summer, and could be easily paired with a tasty beverage.

I’m not sure yet what will be next on my cupcake experimentation list, but I’m sure there will be many non-cupcake posts coming in the near future. I’ve been thinking that I need to practice my cake decorating skills, so many an opportunity will present itself for my to try one decorated like this? Or maybe this?