Monday, June 29, 2009

Not-So-Secret Recipe

After a hectic weekend of baking, and much admiration of my cupcakes, I realised that I haven't posted the recipe I use every week! It's a very straightforward Vanilla Cupcake recipe, modified from the famous Magnolia Bakery of SATC fame, that came to me from Laura, a friend and fellow baker based in Limerick, and the recipe is as follows:

Vanilla Cupcakes (á la Magnolia Bakery & courtesy of Laura Boland!)

To make 1 Dozen Cupcakes:

110g butter, at room temperature
200g caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
90g plain flour
110g self-raising flour
115ml of milk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (the real stuff!)

Buttercream Icing:
75g butter (ideally unsalted but "normal" butter can be used instead, at room temperature)
200g icing sugar, sifted
30ml milk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

*In case it wasn't clear already, the ingredients need to be at ROOM TEMPERATURE! I cannot stress this enough. Not only does it make it easier to do, the mix won't curdle this way. (Try and beat refrigerated butter then come back to me!)*

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases... this is easier said than done though, I have to get my "standard" sized cupcake cases on eBay! The bun cases in the shops here are just too small, though a way around this is to use the silicone muffin trays as they are slightly smaller than the metal tins.

2. Sift the two flours together into a bowl and set aside. Stir the vanilla into the milk and set aside.

3. Using a hand mixer, or if you're lucky enough a Stand Mixer, cream the butter in a large bowl until soft, usually around a minute. Then add 1/3 of the sugar and mix again for a minute or two. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula and add the remaining sugar in two more stages, beating until very light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between, and ensuring they are fully incorporated.

*This is where you have to be careful not to overmix:

5. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add 1/3 of the flour mixture, gently beating until just mixed. Then add half of the vanilla-milk, don't worry about the curdles appearance, just gently beat it. Add the next 1/3 of the flour, then alternate with the milk and finish with the flour. It's very easy to overmix and produce tough cupcakes so be very careful, ideally using a spatula to fold in the last of the flour. You should be left with a glossy, creamy (delicious!) mixture that falls easily off the spatula.

6. Scoop the batter into the prepared cases (I use an ice-cream scoop for this for uniformity but two spoons will work just as well, just be sure not to over fill the cases), and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, the cupcakes should be golden and springy to the touch once done. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 mins, then move to a wire rack until completely cool and safe to cover with icing. (Do NOT try to rush this or your pretty icing will melt all over your cakes!)

7. Make the icing: Beat the butter on its own in a medium sized bowl until creamy and fluffy, then sift in half of the icing sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Reduce the speed and add the rest of the icing sugar along with the vanilla & milk, beating until light and fluffy and at the right consistency to ice your cupcakes. I use a Wilton 1M piping tip to produce the ice-cream-like swirls on the top of my cakes, but you can just spread it on thickly with a knife and it will taste just as good! Top with sprinkles/sugar pearls/sweets/whatever you fancy! :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Week 6: A very full stall...

... and it's all gone!!
I had baked Cupcakes (Choc & Vanilla, incl. mini ones), Banana Bread, Peanut Butter Cookies AND I used some leftover Lemon Pound Cake mixture to make a few cupcakes with a Lemon Glaze... and I have nothing left now! I didn't sell everything (the PB Cookies were given to the kids of a friend of mine) and half the Banana Bread was eaten by me & a few others, but it's all gone! :) I was half-hoping that I'd have a dozen cupcakes leftover to bring to my friend's place for dinner tonight but I guess I'll have to bake fresh ones now! I'm just chilling out for a few minutes now before I start back into it again, I've a Carrot Cake to make for a neighbour too so I think I'll be skipping baking for the Munster Indoor Market tomorrow. I'll go along and give Collette a hand of course but I can't see myself having the energy to bake MORE cupcakes tomorrow morning!! :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Marathon Baking Session Ahead!

This is going to be an unprecedented weekend of baking... It all kicked off on Wednesday night when I prepared Oatmeal Cookie dough for a friend that's going travelling today and had requested snacks that would last the journey. It continued last night with the Lemon Pound Cake pictured above, I'm using the Joy of Baking website to full advantage lately! Tonight is Baking Day for the Farmer's Market as normal, with Vanilla & Chocolate Cupcakes and Banana Bread on the menu as usual. But I also have rhubarb that I bought in the Market last week that I wanted to bake into Rhubarb Crumble Muffins, so I'll have to see if I have time for that. The marathon effort continues into Saturday with an invitation to dinner with friends, that came with a proviso that I should be accompanied by a dozen cupcakes to secure that invite! I'm just hoping I have leftovers from that morning because I have also committed myself to baking for a Sunday market this weekend (!!) I'm not sure when I'll have time to sleep... but I'll struggle through somehow... I might just fall in to bed on Sunday evening at about 5pm but it would be worth it! :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Week 5: A Great Crowd!

There was a brilliant buzz around the market today, not entirely from customers though, hence I was not sold out this week! It's not too hard to get rid of leftover Chocolate Cupcakes though.. :) I had great fun with my guest stall-helper Stewart, and had the pleasure of Collette & her family dropping by to sample everything on my stall! :)

This week was a load of firsts, with my first "employee", my first time selling Banana Bread and my first attempts at piping icing... :) It all went really well, I was surprised at how popular the banana & walnut loaf cake turned out to be, and even more surprised at how pretty my amateurish attempts at icing looked! I'll definitely be using that method in future, I think I'll just be experimenting with my toppings. I might even start playing around with fondant and sugar craft if I find the time!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Midweek Baking

Just for fun... Banana & Walnut Bread...

A reunion with some former colleagues today was enough of a reason to defrost some frozen bananas (a new experiment!) and make some Banana Bread. I tried a new recipe this time, having felt from previous attempts that it was a bit too sweet, so this time I used the Joy of Baking recipe and it worked out really well... I haven't eaten a full slice yet but the crumbs tasted yummy and it smelled wonderful when I woke up this morning... It's probably great for breakfast, but I'm holding out till afternoon tea...


I forgot to take photos of last week's Market Day! I was kept busy with friends/customers and I was sold out by 11am! It's a good complaint though, so I'll just be sure to take photos earlier next time! I think I'll stick with Vanilla & Chocolate Cupcakes, they went down very well, I might experiment with additional baked goods when I have the time or inclination. My friend Stew might be helping me out this Saturday, and baking Scones too, I'll appreciate the help & the company! :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Week 3:

The weather was so changeable this week that it may have scared the Cupcake Customers from coming out.. business was slow.. well it was to begin with.. but thankfully my regular customers (and some of my mates!) returned and I was practically sold out again! Those Vanilla Cupcakes are a BIG hit, I won't be messing with that recipe, though I may become a bit more creative with decorating in future.

It was only my third week in the Farmer's Market and I feel at home already, it really helps that everyone who works there is very welcoming and friendly! New members seem to be joining regularly so hopefully the Market will really take off this year and secure itself as a fixture in the village, irregardless of the weather! Our newest member is Roisin, with her cute, creative and playful jewellery fashioned out of Fimo clay. I had to buy the little Cupcake earrings from her, and judging from the orders being placed around me it sounds like every stall will have a custom pair before too long!
This week's "cupcake special" was a Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcake with a Lemon Glaze, and though it didn't sell as well as the regular favourite, there was still only 2 leftover and thankfully so as they'd been reserved beforehand! The mixture was quite easy to make and produced a very light result (thanks to the addition of yoghurt no doubt) but I'll be tweaking the recipe if I make them again, they just needed an extra dash of sweetness so that should be easy enough to do. I'll post the recipe(s) if anyone's interested? I'm already thinking about what to make for next week...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Robbing Recipes!

I've been trawling the internet to find the right cupcake recipe to complement my Vanilla Cupcakes at the market this weekend, and I've found this Chocolate Cupcake recipe courtesy of my favourite Cupcake Blog. I think this sounds perfect for my market audience, nice and chocolatey but not too complicated so it should be easy enough to prepare. I don't think it counts as robbing a recipe if I give full credit though... :)
My next plan is to work on my Icing skills.. (which are sorely lacking at the moment!) The first step is to find some decent Icing Equipment, and this is proving harder than I'd imagined. I've been looking online, but I think I'd be better off looking at the shops around like The Kitchen Range in Limerick. Ideally I'd do an Icing or Sugar Craft Course.. but baby steps... :)