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Blueberry-vanilla cupcakes

This past week I tried something new. My friend’s birthday was coming up and since she loves blueberries, I figured I’d use the opportunity to test a modified recipe.

I decided to make blueberry-vanilla cupcakes, keeping in the back of my mind that adding any quantity of blueberries to a recipe would also add a quantity of liquid that would affect the outcome. I used my standard vanilla cupcake recipe, but removed some of the liquid to make way for the blueberries:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cups cream
2 eggs
1 yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
+ a handful of blueberries

For the icing I did the same thing, taking most of the milk out of the recipe to compensate for the blueberries:

4 oz unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs vanilla bean paste
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tbs milk
+ ¼ cup blueberries

With the icing, experiment with adding more icing sugar or butter to get it to an ideal consistency/taste.

These cupcakes turned out very well.

What cupcake recipe will I be trying next? Grapefruit cupcakes with matcha tea frosting. I’ve got all the ingredients ready to go for this weekend, so stay tuned!


The day of 135 cupcakes

I wanted to make this post yesterday, sometime after finishing the job, but my brain stopped working for a few hours and sleep seemed much better than writing.

First off, I think it best to give some details of what yesterday involved:

  • 100 cupcakes for a wedding-themed birthday celebration
    • Baked for event: 100; Actually baked: 135
  • Flavours: chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate icing; lemon cupcakes with vanilla bean, lemon icing
    • Batches: 8 batches of cupcakes; 7 batches of icing
  • Time: 7am – 2:30pm
  • The post-bake mess: SO MANY DISHES and chocolate everywhere
  • Casualties: 1 2.5kg bag of sugar, exploded on impact with my kitchen floor; 1 poached egg, unrelated to the baking, but the result of trying to make a poached egg breakfast while making cupcakes ( = bad idea)

I actually learned a lot while doing this job yesterday. Like I mentioned in my last post, planning a mass-production of cupcakes is actually quite involved. For example, I spent at least 2.5 hours on Friday night cutting 84 holes in 6 file-folder lids, so that the cupcakes (at least most of them) would have a safe place to rest for transportation to the event, which thankfully I didn’t have to arrange. Also, you need to make sure you have enough of all your ingredients. While this might seem kind of obvious, until you calculate everything you don’t really realize that the job will take 2 dozen eggs, 16 cups of flour, 18 cups of icing sugar, 12 lemons, etc…! The last thing you want to have to do when you’re baking this amount of anything, especially if you’re doing it alone, is have to run to the grocery. You also can’t forget about the cupcake liners, having enough baking trays and (if required for the particular event) how your creations are going to be presented.

I learned some more baking-related realities while doing this job, too. While some of these may seem more obvious to the more seasoned baker, they weren’t to me since I’ve only been making cupcakes for just over 1 month. When I was making my chocolate cupcakes, I thought it would be smart to open the oven and turn the pan 180 degrees, so as to ensure a more even baking. This apparently is a bad idea, probably combined with the fact that I didn’t move them gently, since it made some of my cupcakes rather sad-looking and caved in. It seemed better, if you’re going to turn the pan around, to wait until the cupcakes have an upwards puff from rising before turning the pan. I also learned, and perhaps this is the most important thing, that making icing isn’t so much, at least not as much as I thought, a follow-the-recipe-to-a-T-or-you-may-fail task. From what I can tell so far, and I hope I’m not wrong or there may be some icing disasters in my future, you can really experiment or tweak icing to your particular tastes. Too sugary? Add some butter. Too buttery? Add some sugar. Too thick? Add some liquid (milk, cream, or whatever you’re using). This seems obvious when you write it out, but I think that what I’m intending. Making icing isn’t really as big an undertaking as it seems. As long as you stick to your basic ingredients, logical wet-dry ratios and don’t go WILD with adding liquid, then you’ll be able to make an icing with which you’re happy! You can do it!

I really enjoyed this experience, despite the fact that it was absolutely exhausting to bake for 7.5 hours straight. It went off without a hitch and hopefully the birthday girl enjoyed them, too!

… To be honest, though, I’m looking forward to going a few weeks without baking cupcakes. There’s so many other recipes I want to try!

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing + heart

One thing I’ve never done, surprisingly, is make chocolate icing. Probably the most classic icing of all and I’ve never done it. Although I’ve only really been making cupcakes for about a month now, I thought it was about time that I take the plunge into chocolate. So that’s how I spent my Sunday afternoon, again.

I used my grandmother’s recipe for the cupcakes and this recipe for the icing. I’ve only tasted both in their “raw” state, so if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go take a bite so I can accurately tell you how it tastes…

WOAH… That’s chocolate. I used extra in the cupcakes and the icing recipe… I think it kicks ass. Just my opinion, so far, but jeez I’m impressed (I’m particularly referring to the icing here). The cupcake isn’t quite as moist as my lemon ones were, but, unlike when I used this recipe for the Oreo cupcakes below, I cooked them for an appropriate amount of time (15 minutes on the nose) so they have a nice “squish” or fluffy-ness to them. Not sure “squish” is the best word for cupcakes, but I mean it in a good way! Anyway, the icing recipe is definitely one I’m going to be keeping and I would highly recommend it. I didn’t have to do any alterations to it at all, and that’s something really valuable in a recipe – you want one that you can follow to a T and actually not be concerned about taste-testing 6 times to get something you’re happy with. 

Lemon cupcakes with vanilla-lemon icing

Last Sunday I decided to make lemon cupcakes. The original plan was to make cream cheese icing, having seen many recipes for lemon cupcakes with this icing, but I decided on the more simple, easy vanilla. I used this recipe for the cupcakes and the icing. I have to say, the cupcake recipe (minus the thyme, because I didn’t have any on hand/couldn’t find any fresh at the grocery) was pretty tasty and accurate. The icing recipe, however, was not… I added much more butter, maybe 3-4 tbsp more, and much less sugar, maybe a total of 1 3/4 cups. The icing, with an added 1 tbsp of lemon zest and with the aforementioned changes, was quite delicious. I also noticed that with this recipe the cupcakes didn’t puff up as much, which I liked. My chocolate ones, posted below, ended up being way too big because of this. These ones ended up being a little small, but very fluffy and moist. I only took one photo this time, since it had been a long weekend and, to be honest, I forgot to take photos until near the end. This is definitely a recipe (when altered) and flavour I will continue to make.

Not-so-red-red velvet cupcakes

So, at 8:30 pm and after a few glasses of wine, I began my baking… As mentioned, I decided on red velvet cupcakes, hoping that the cocoa powder would be an at-least-somewhat-effective substitute for red dye. It actually was somewhat effective. As you can see from the photos below, while the cupcake looks pretty much like chocolate on the outside, it is a bit red on the inside. Good enough for me (and definitely better than the alternative THREE tablespoons of dye other recipes call for)!

For a little something extra, I added an Oreo crumble bottom and the icing is vanilla with little Oreo bits of tasty-ness. I’m most happy with how the icing turned out. Fluffy, light, not too rich. As for the cupcakes themselves, they needed maybe 3 less minutes in the oven.

Tonight: red velvet

So, tonight’s a big night! Sometime between going out for drinks and going to bed, I’m going to attempt to make red velvet cupcakes, with cookie crumb bottoms and garnish, and cream cheese icing.

I’m going to, for now, just make a half-batch using this recipe. I’ve expressed my anxiety to many about the quantum (can I use this word as a synonym for “insanely huge”?) amounts of red dye that red velvet typically requires, but I’m going to try the old-fashioned substitute of unprocessed cocoa power. I’m hoping this brings enough of a red-tinge to make my cupcakes quality as red velvet, but I’m not 100% optimistic…

I’ll post some photos of the finished product, so be sure to check them out.