Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Homemade cupcakes!

Ever since the kitchen has been remodeled, we have been getting great use out of our new oven and counter space.

I got to start baking again on a regular basis and one of the first things I made was yummy vanilla cupcakes from Nigella Lawson. For some reason, I can't find it on her site anymore, but here is my handwritten version.

Although this version usually ends up with 20 cupcakes and I don't use the extra tablespoons of butter or sugar.

First things first, assembling the cupcake cups. I use paper liners inside silicon baking cups. Cheaper than a muffin tin and the paper liners make convenient holders.

All lined up and ready for batter!

I always try to do "mise en place" and set out all my ingredients first. It's the secret of all great tv chefs (according to my game theory professor in business school) and it does make things go a lot faster.

First goes the sugar.

Here's the melted butter. I stuck the whole stick in the microwave and zapped it until it melted. The first time I made cupcakes, I didn't let the butter melt and I didn't have an electric mixer and my cupcakes came out flat and dry, so now I always use melted butter and the hand mixer.

Two eggs, sitting out so they warm up to room temperature.

In goes the flour, butter and the eggs.

Now the two ingredients you need if you don't have self-rising flour... baking soda...

and baking powder...

Some vanilla extract, which with the sugar, give all the flavor. (I need to learn to make my own and use real vanilla beans.)

Then a little milk. The original recipe called for 2-3 tablespoons of milk. I find 4 works a lot better.

The hand mixer! I love this little guy. I got it from Target and it works pretty well, except all of its speeds are Fast and Super Fast. I always get flour all over me if I'm trying to work dry ingredients in to a not-so-wet batter.

Filling the cupcakes. I find for an average sized cupcake, a Chinese soup spoon of batter is the perfect amount.

Generally you don't need to fill the cup more than half-way or two-thirds because the cake is going to rise as it bakes.

I also made some mini cupcakes, using little paper liners I had bought at Mitsuwa. For these, a regular spoonful of batter worked well.

Another cooking tip I've picked up is the trash bowl from Rachel Ray. As you cook, you have a bowl set aside for all scraps and trash. It saves the time and trouble of having to walk back and forth to the trash can and then you can dump everything at the end.

This is such a time-saver and efficiency hint, even FI uses one when he's cooking!

The finished products!

Yeah, I know they came out a little weird shaped. I think it's due to the organic pastry flour I have. It just doesn't take to baking well. I tried them out in cookies and it's not so great looking either.

But regardless, they are super yummy!

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