Sunday, July 29, 2007

I'll Let You Call Them Muffins If I Can Hold Your Baby

Boy, I had to give away my camera just when I go on a baking craze. I really wish you could see these cupcakes I just baked up. But more than that, I really wish somebody had already invented smell-o-vision, because you have no idea what you are missing.

July 27, 2007
Name of Cupcake: Happy Summery Cupcakes
Occasion: Meeting the Summer Babies!
Constituents: Blueberry-Lemon Cupcakes frosted with Vanilla Buttercream

Oh, people. I am telling you, you wish you were here. These suckers smell so good.

So the story is as follows:

Three years ago, a friend of mine who had just bought the cutest farmhouse out in SE Portland decided to throw a summer party in her backyard. She had also decided she was going to try her hand at baking and found online a recipe for carrot cake that she really liked. So she invited the Evil Bakers Incorporated to bake cakes as well; the idea would be that we would each make different tiers of what would be a fantastic cake. So I volunteered to bake the bottom tier.

At this time I was really interested in figuring out how to successfully incorporate fruit into cakes. RLB has practically nothing in The Book, and that was pretty much the only book I was using at the time. I decided to try a blackberry-orange cake; a combo that I know was used to great success with Marsee Baking Company.

I used the All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake as the base recipe, to which I added 4 tsp of grated orange zest, and almost 2 pints of fresh blackberries tossed in flour.

The Cake. Was. Awesome.

When I took a bite of the finished cake, the first hit was a bang of fresh, tart, sweet blackberry, then vanilla, and at the end the acidic perfume of orange. Encased in a perfectly moist, light, not too sweet yellow butter cake with a creamy vanilla finish.

--A moment, please, for the best cake I had baked to date.--

Read the blog post about my blackberry-orange cake.

Fast forward to last summer, when I went blackberry picking with my friend Brains. I went along for the company, the sheer joy of being outside on a nice summery day, and the promise of big loud trains. I baked the blackberry-orange cake as cupcakes and they were just as good. My only complaint was that I didn't put enough blackberries in each cupcake, but that's not so bad.

Read the blog post about my blackberry-orange cupcakes.

So this year, I decided to make the same cupcakes for the post partum meet up party tomorrow afternoon. It is for the brand spanking new parents that were in my last Birthing From Within class in March. There were four couples and I couldn't have asked for a livelier group. All their babies were born in the last month and so it's time to meet the kiddos, listen to them share birth stories, trade parenting secrets, and watch them set up play groups and help each other out. For me, it's like watching the kids grow up and leave the nest.

The selection at the store I chose to go to was paltry--I can't fault them, it is a little too early for blackberries. But--the blueberries! They were everywhere! And so cute and happy!

So I decided to make blueberry-lemon cupcakes instead. And I'm so pleased with my decision, I have to pat myself on the back.

Blueberry-Lemon Cupcakes
based on Rose Levy Beranbaum's All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake as found in The Cake Bible, page 39.

please have all ingredients at room temperature

6 large egg yolks, 112 grams
whole milk, 1 cup or 242 g
vanilla, 2.25 tsp or 9 g
lemon zest, 4 tsp
sifted cake flour, 3 cups or 300 g
sugar, preferably baker's or golden cane, 1.5 cups or 300 g
baking powder, 1 tbsp + 1 tsp or 19.5 g
sea salt, .75 tsp or 5 g
fresh blueberries, about 2 pints
unsalted butter, softened, 12 tbsp or 170 g

Preheat oven to 350.
In a medium bowl, combine the yolks, .25 cup or 60.5 g of the milk, vanilla, and lemon zest. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to blend. Add the butter and remaining .75 cup or 181.5 g of milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand blender) and beat for 1.5 minutes. [This is a good time to do some clean up.] Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, mixing for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.

Fill each cupcake cup about 1/3 full and sprinkle in a handful of blueberries. Keeping in mind your want your cupcake cups to be about 2/3 full, spoon about 2-5 tablespoons of batter on top of the berries. With the back of a spoon, spread the top layer of batter over the berries. You don't need to completely cover and submerge the berries; as the cake rises it will rise past and cover the berry goodness.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when you press it and a cake tester inserted in the middle of a few cupcakes comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the cupcakes out and let cool completely on a rack. Store airtight.
I used the Neo-Classic Buttercream recipe right out of The Book, except that where it calls for 2-4 tbsp optional liqueur of your choice, I added 2 tbsp of vanilla extract. Heavenly.

(7/29) Well, the cupcakes were a hit, but everybody called them "muffins." Muffins! Muffins are less sweet, coarse and dry, and don't have frosting! These were delicate, cumbly, moist, and frosted!! Harumph.

Actually, I think I added too many blueberries to each cupcake and that's why they were crumbly. Just not enough cake to hold them together, I guess. But still, damn good CUPCAKES.

I can forgive them; they're brand spanking new parents, they haven't had a good night's sleep in over a month.

By the way, the babies? Adorable. Freaking adorable. I made sure to hold every one of them, and they are all perfect!

1 comment:

  1. That is a lovely post! How wonderful you have a party and get to see them again.
    The yellow cake with blueberries sound gorgeous. What frosting did you use. I need details, woman. Get that camera back, now.