I was at a cafe the other day taking a break from, well, my life, and it was pretty busy so I got a seat at the counter which runs along the window, squeezed between a girl on a notebook computer and a guy drawing with a sharpie in a visual diary and
side note but I am always fascinated by people who can draw and I like to watch them. The way that people can use a pen or a sharpie or whatever and make lines on paper look good? wow. Probably because I would really be able to draw but I don’t have the discipline to make myself draw enough to get good at it. I love to do too many other things.
How does the time go so fast?
I didn’t really know what to title this post because although there is a recipe for chocolate cupcakes at the end, it’s not really about the cupcakes. The cupcakes are a vehicle for me to talk about stuff.
I feel like lately life has been happening to me, rather than that I am actually living life. It might have to do with the fact that I’m living in a state of limbo and my life has been turned upside down this year. I don’t know what I want to do with my life or where I’m going and so I’m filling in time by working and baking and going to parties and weddings.
I’m writing a novel.
I have always loved to write. I started this blog to write, and I made it a food blog because I love food. I love to make it and I love to share it. And National Novel Writing Month has given me that same opportunity in a completely different way.
So I know I just posted about red velvet cake a couple of days ago but in reality, it was about two months ago that I made red velvet cake for my birthday and I got to craving it again after a friend made red velvet cupcakes to share. Man, they were good. Also, posting about it made me crave red velvet cake. It’s pretty amazing.
So I decided to make cupcakes this time because they’re easier to share in a houseful of people [never mind that I ate most of them myself... hey, they're pretty good. And I have very polite housemates.] , and set out to redeem my red velvet cake making experience. This one probably wasn’t as fudgey nor as chocolatey as I would have liked, but they rose fantastically. And I’m definitely not sad that I’ll have to make them again to find the perfect recipe. They’re amazing.
In other news, I went to the Windsor Hotel for high tea on Sunday afternoon with my sister. It was absolutely amazing and I will have (camera phone) photos along with a full post about it coming soon. There was amazing tea, expensive sparkling wine and lots of delicious food. Stay tuned.
I’m also really excited about going to something called a Truth Lab in Collingwood on Friday night. See, remember when I talked about going to Surrender? (And then promised to tell you more about but promptly failed to keep that promise?) So Surrender do these things called Truth Labs where it’s kinda like a mini-Surrender conference for one night. Amazing people are there, there’s a speaker (or two or three) and there are lots of awesome people to talk about doing awesome stuff with. Like going to SURRENDER:12 (that’s next year. This year was SURRENDER:11. Get it?)
Friday night. St Martin’s, corner of Wellington and Otter. Collingwood. 7.30pm. Jarrod Mckenna is going to be there. [insert small fangirl squee here. Sorry. I'm a nerd, we're allowed to be uncontrollably excited about things.]
And it’s time to make red velvet cupcakes. Because they’re made of awesome. Sorry for the random jumping aboutedness of this post. DFTBA.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from Bakerella
So as I mentioned, these ones weren’t quite as fudgy as I would have liked them to be. They didn’t quite stand up to the cream cheese icing strongly enough. So, yes, my quest for perfect red velvet cake does not end here. But hey, no one’s complaining, right?
Also, one of the best things about this particular recipe is the ease in which you put it together.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 2 muffin pans with 24 liners. Set aside.
Whisk all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
Whisk all wet ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the wet. Mix together with a wooden spoon until smooth.
Divide among the muffin liners (I got 24 standard cupcake size cupcakes filling them almost to the top, but Bakerella mentions that she got 22 and could have filled them less.) Bake 20-25 minutes, until a skewer or sharp knife inserted into the middle one comes out clean. Let cool in pans while you make the cream cheese icing. Ice and share with hungry, appreciative people who you love.
Guys, I have a rash on my hands. Granted, it’s not very red or large or even very itchy (at the moment – it could spring into crazyitchy annoyingness at any moment. Watch out!
I think it’s stress related, but that is of course only a theory. And to be honest, it’s actually just resurfacing from a couple of weeks ago. What was I doing then? Oh, yeah, being a head counselor at a kids’ day care camp. Fun times.
They actually were fun times, just also quite stressful. Thankfully, I have this baking thing to destress me. Thank you God for flour, sugar, butter and ovens.
So I actually made these before the birthday cake that is yet to appear on this blog (soon, people, soon. I promise.) and they didn’t quite turn out as expected. They were quite small, and I made a cream cheese lime glaze instead of the icing I was after (I may have figured that that would have happened if it weren’t for the fact that I had quite a few other things on my mind, namely university starting in three days and also work and also car trouble. Not fun.
But hey, they tasted good.
Until they turned mouldy. Not cool! Keep these in the refrigerator, and eat them quick. Share them with your housemates, your uni mates, your family, your friends. They are really nice. Especially coming from a sun-dappled kitchen.
Carrot and Pineapple Cupcakes
Ok, so related to the fact that these went mouldy in less than a week kept in an airtight container in winter at room temperature, I would suggest that a) keep them in the fridge and b) squeeze the carrots after you grate them to get the juices out. Also c) really strain that pineapple out.
1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/2 cups (225g) self raising flour
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups (440g) firmly packed grated carrot, squeezed of juices
3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 degrees fan forced). Line a twelve hole standard muffin pan or eighteen cupcake moulds (approximately).
Mix together oil, eggs, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Stir in pineapple and carrot. Warning – this will not look pretty. Do it anyway.
Fill the cases about three quarters full – a little fuller if you like them spilling over more, these were a little flat.
Bake about twenty five minutes, longer if they’re bigger.
Cream Cheese Lime Glaze
25g softened cream cheese
juice of one lime
Beat the cheese with electric beaters until smooth. Add lime juice and beat until combined. Dip each cupcake in the glaze. Eat with others.
PS: Happy Birthday Harry Potter!
I know that it’s winter here in Melbourne. Living, as I do, in the hills, it gets cold here. We have a wood fire and piles of wood ready to be burnt, and as the weather gets colder I’m increasingly appreciative of our ducted heating system. Sometimes, all you want to do is snuggle down in bed for a few more
However, when it’s sunny outside and there are local strawberries for sale and you want to play pretend, summer is not a bad season to pretend to be in. Especially when all the American food blogs are talking about strawberries, cherries, barbeques and summer dresses.
I like winter. I do. But sometimes, you just gotta go with the summertime flow.
So I bought the strawberries, knowing that there would be a few gunky ones – more than a few, I think I was able to use about half of them – and decided to bake them in cupcakes. When it’s summer and the berries are amazing, I’m guessing you’d just roast them maybe, or make jam or even just eat them straight out of the punnet – but it being winter, I thought cupcakes were in order.
Contrary to some opinion, I don’t think that a muffin is a bald cupcake. I’m not saying they’re good for you, I just think that muffins have a different texture, a different feel. However, cupcakes definitely need a little something on top. And so, I decided to make some buttercream.
Mind you, it being almost seven and time to go meet some friends for pizza and camp prep sesh (yay for camp! yay for hanging out with kids for two weeks! yay for sleep deprivation! wait. What? Oh yeah, cupcakes.) I decided it had to be quick buttercream, one quartered from that goddess of cake decoration, i am baker.
And then I took them to said meeting and they were gobbled up quickly. Yum.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
I halved this recipe because I only had a punnet of strawberries, and I used a plain and spelt flour combination because I’m quite fond of spelt at the moment. I also diced the strawberries and folded them through the batter.
3 tbsp butter
3/4 cup flour (I swapped in half a cup for wholemeal spelt. Good Idea)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
250g strawberries, diced
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and put cupcake liners into a muffin tin. I only made seven cupcakes out of this recipe.
Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and beat until silky smooth.
Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add gradually while beating until just incorporated. Gently fold in the diced strawberries.
Divide among your cupcake liners. You want them to be in between three quarters and fully loaded. Bake for five minutes on 180 degrees, then lower to 160 degrees and bake another fifteen or so minutes. Cool in the pan and then unpan them and ice them. (I put them in the fridge for a few minutes to cool right down.)
Quick Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from i am baker
I, as I mentioned, quartered this recipe, which originally would have been able to frost two eight inch (20 cm) cakes. I still had leftovers.
65 g butter
1-2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp rosewater (This was my addition – a pink flavour to compliment the pink strawberry cupcakes)
Put the butter, milk, vanilla and half a cup of the icing sugar into your mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. Gradually add the rest of the sugar while beating, until you have a smooth, spreadable consistency. You may not need all the sugar.