Wednesday, November 25, 2009

the day before thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving is usually a day I take off work. I love spending the day at home - baking and listening to Christmas music. If I get the chance, I'll even put up a few Christmas decorations (didn't happen this year). This morning I got up bright and early and kicked off the morning with some coffee and GMA. After my coffee I started in on my first baking project... cupcakes! Tuesday night I had measured and set out all the ingredients (dry on the counter, wet in the fridge), so this morning my baking process was quick and easy. As I mentioned in my post from last Sunday, the recipe I used was Magnolia Bakery's vanilla cupcake. One thing I've learned from making this recipe a few times is: do not bake the cupcakes for as long as the recipe calls for. It could be my super powered oven, but I baked the first batch for 16 minutes, and the two subsequent batches for 15. You have to watch these cupcakes like a hawk because if you overbake them, they taste super dry.

• 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

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line two 12-cup 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, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. 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 three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
5. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Today I tried a new frosting recipe instead of the Magnolia vanilla buttercream frosting recipe that I've used before. The frosting turned out fabulous! I absolutely love it - it will be a repeat, and it wasn't too hard, which is a plus. For now, I'm keeping the recipe a secret! Here's a picture of the delicious frosting before I added any food coloring:

And, here's the final product...

Obviously, my camera's not the best... I couldn't get a very good shot of the leaf cupcake. It's a leaf cupcake, but it kind of looks like an "Oh Canada" cupcake.

I also made a pumpkin pie with cinnamon streusel topping today, along with a sweet potato casserole (not pictured).

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow! Remember, eat lots and don't worry about your waist line! ;)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

i love cupcakes

As most of my family and friends know, I have a love for sweets... candy, cookies, anything chocolate, cake, ice cream, the list goes on. But, in the last few years, I've developed an undying love for cupcakes. I've always thought cupcakes were fabulous - they're the perfect amount of cake with a generous amount of frosting! It wasn't until I visited Magnolia Bakery in NYC a few years ago on a work trip that I truly fell in love with cupcakes and realized how wonderful these little cakes are. I stood in line for close to an hour waiting for my chance to enter the tiny bakery and order a box full of jumbo cupcakes. Since I had waited so long, you better believe I filled an entire box (even though I was traveling alone). I bought one of Magnolia's famous vanilla cupcakes, a chocolate, red velvet and a strawberry cupcake. As I walked down the street away from the bakery, I tore the wrapper off the vanilla cupcake and took a large bite. Oh my goodness... it was heaven in my mouth. Sugary sweet goodness, I savored every bite as I walked back to who knows where, getting lost in NYC because of my obsession with the Magnolia cupcake.

In the last couple of years I've noticed a "cupcake frenzy," so it appears others are taking notice. To my delight there are now cupcake stores open in Kansas City! Two that I've visited are Cupcake ala Mode near the Country Club Plaza,, and Babycakes, in the River Market downtown. Both offer delicious cupcakes... although the experience isn't like that of Magnolia in NYC. I do love the Raspberry Lemonade cupcake at ala Mode though!

Because of my love for cupcakes, I've decided to do a little show and tell with my sweets, specifically cupcakes. I love to bake and I've found that it's a great creative outlet, as well as a wonderful way to relieve some stress! Lately my life has been consumed with work and grad school, so if I have any extra time for myself, it's good for me to do something that's hands on and creative, as well as stress relieving.

So, here I go. My first project will be Thanksgiving cupcakes. In honor of my story about Magnolia Bakery and my NYC adventure, I'm going to make Magnolia Vanilla Cupcakes for Thanksgiving. I plan on making the cupcakes on Wednesday, so watch for a posting on Thursday! Until then, have a great week!