Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hi there. Here's a cupcake.

Oh, hello.

Thanks for stopping by.

I've started this blog as a way to more regularly keep track of what I'm baking. It's not pretty or perfect or well-designed--yet--but it's a way to connect and share that's separate from my main writing site.

I don't have mad photo skills. But what I do have are damned good cupcakes, cookies, pies, breads, whoopie pies, scones and whatever else comes out of my beloved Aga. And I'd like to share them with you, and tell you that I'm happy to make them for you, too, for a fair price.

Last week, I realized something. I missed my stand mixer, Rosco, as though he were a member of the family, when he was out for repair. Tears were shed. It was not a pretty week, people. But he's back and operational, and we're all very happy. Miles kissed the mixer at least twice and told me it was his "best friend."

So here's my Honey-Frosted Lemon Cupcake, just sitting there simply on a napkin.

Lemon Cupcake Recipe Notes:

I started with a simple vanilla cupcake base, and took it from there. I used Penzey's powdered lemon peel (amazingly fragrant and potent), mostly because I just bought it and wanted to try it out, but you should use as much zest as you can tolerate; I'd suggest a tablespoon. Similarly, I use lemon extract, but if you don't have that, add the juice of half of a lemon and you should be good to go.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. powdered lemon peel (or 1 Tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract (or juice of half a lemon)
1/2 cup whole milk

Lemon Cupcake Directions (Adapted from Hello, Cupcake):
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a muffin tin with liners or grease with butter and flour or baking spray. 
  2. In a small bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients (flour through lemon peel; if you are using lemon zest instead, do not sift this in with dry ingredients.)
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well to combine.
  5. Add the extracts/juice and zest, and mix until just combined.
  6. Add the flour in batches, alternating with the milk, until all the flour has been absorbed and there are no white streaks left.
  7. Drop by 1/4 cup scoop into pan, and bake for 18-20 minutes until the middles are just about set. The cupcakes should spring back lightly when you touch them.
  8. Transfer pan to wire rack for ten minutes, and then carefully remove cupcakes to cool completely on the rack. 
Honey Frosting Ingredients (adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes)

8 ounces of cream cheese, block-style, softened
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar, approximately--sifted if possible

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir together frantically with a spatula until it's broken down. No, seriously, this is what I did last weekend before the mixer came home, because this recipe does not technically require a stand mixer. In her book, Ms. Stewart suggests a spatula, and on her web site, she says a whisk. But how this comes together with a typical whisk, I'll never understand. This is one thick, sticky frosting, people. If  things get clumpy and your arm gets tired despite the fact that you are strong, suddenly realize you have a whisk attachment to your immersion blender and use that, like I did, before Rosco's return. Otherwise, you can easily dump all this together in the bowl of your mixer and fluff it up as best you can, adding the confectioner's sugar last to help it all come together. Just know that this is going to be a thick, beautiful frosting.

The addition of agave nectar was a total accident. In my haste to finish the frosting, I accidentally grabbed the agave first instead of the honey, as they live next to each other in the cabinet. I think the agave really heightens the flavor of the honey, so it was a happy accident. If you don't have agave, no worries. You might just need more honey than Martha says. That's what I found.

This should make more than enough frosting for a dozen cupcakes. You can keep the rest in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to five days. That's what I did, and I was able to frost six more cupcakes with the remains. Just remember to bring it to room temperature before you try to work with it--otherwise it's not going to be compliant.

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