Cupcake recipe

BM# 100: Week 4, Day 3
Theme : Pick an alphabet 

Like I mentioned earlier, I have a go to recipe for chocolate cakes. And I have another one for Vanilla cakes. I always use the Hot Milk Cake recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book be it cakes or cupcakes.Its a  very tasty and sturdy cake and it freezes very well too.

I chanced upon a Craftsy (now BluPrint) DVD at the library couple of years back. Craftsy/BluPrint has a lot of online classes for various topics. I found excellent classes for Baking and cake decorating there, so I took the membership. I found their decorating videos to be more useful, its really helped me a lot.

The recipe for cupcakes here is from The Perfect Cupcake by Jennifer Shea . I never knew that there is so much more you can do with the cupcakes, there is a section on adding crusts to your cupcakes which I found very interesting. She suggests serving cupcakes on the day of baking for maximum freshness. Since cupcakes don’t take too much time to bake, I found it to be excellent advice. The recipe can be baked as a cake as well, you will need to adjust the baking time according to the size of the pan used.

This is the last recipe under the alphabet C. Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cups half and half **
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (227 gms/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350F/180C. Line two 12 cup muffin pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix the mik, half and half, vanilla. Set aside.
  4. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until it becomes light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time and mix well, scraping the bowl after each addition.
  5. Add the dry ingredients mix in three parts, alternating it with wet ingredients in two parts, keeping the mixer at a low speed. Once everything is added, using a rubber spatula, mix everything well and let it sit aside for 15 minutes. Stir gently before using.
  6. Fill upto 2/3rd of the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes until the tops are firm and a skewer inserted to the center of the cupcakes comes free of crumbs. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
  7. Frost once the cupcakes are completely cool.

Notes:

*Substitute all purpose flour for cake flour.

**I use a mix of heavy cream and whole milk or whole milk alone for half and half.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#100

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Checkerboard Cookies

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BM# 100: Week 4, Day 2
Theme : Pick an alphabet

I make cakes regularly. Cookies – not so much, but I used to make it often earlier. The main reason was that my recipe sources were my cookbooks. I had excellent baking books and it was my habit to go through those regularly. I would try out the recipes and my first baking book – The Essential Baking, got me hooked to cookies. I never knew it was so easy to make cookies.

I have made checkerboard cookies also many times, but I haven’t had great success with the shape ever. I prefer making spiral cookies using the same recipe. The simple reason that it’s easier to make the spiral cookies. The shape doesn’t require you to bring out measuring tools.

Now a days, the recipe source for me has shifted from books to the Internet. So sometime back when I came across this recipe online for checkerboard cookies, I decided to give it a try. These were made as a gift and were well received.

Read on for the recipe.

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Recipe source: Taste of Home

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 sticks ( ~140 gms) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tbsp chocolate chips, melted and cooled or 1 tbsp cocoa powder

Method:

  1. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, baking powder and salt until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla. Beat everything until its combined well. Slowly add in the flour in batches beating at a low speed until everything is well mixed.
  2. Divide the dough into two batches. Add the melted chocolate or cocoa powder to one part and mix it in.
  3. Follow this video for instructions on how to shape the cookies. Pictures or videos explain the process a lot better than words.
  4. Clingwrap and Refrigerate the dough until the time of baking.
  5. Pre heat oven to 350F/180C. Slice the cookie log into 1/4″ thick cookies. Spread them evenly on a baking pan, leaving some space between the cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies are set and edges start browning a bit. Take off the oven and let them rest in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. The cookie hardens as it cools.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#100

Chocolate cake

BM# 100: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Pick an alphabet

For the third week of blogging for BM #100, I have chosen the alphabet ‘C’ and so you will find three posts, all starting with C. The first one is a chocolate cake. Though I make a lot of cakes, I don’t share the recipes often here in the blog. The reason is that I don’t deviate from my tried and tested recipes for cakes. When it comes to chocolate cakes, I always go with the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake. Its the same recipe that you find in the back of their Cocoa powder box. Almost all other chocolate cake recipes that you find online are variations of this one. I like it a lot and stopped looking for another recipe longtime back. So anytime I make a chocolate cake, its only the outside design that’s different. The recipe is always the same and its already recorded in the blog. That’s the reason why I don’t feature the new cakes here in the blog.

Though the Hershey’s cake gives excellent results, I find it to be very soft. It’s not a problem for a cake with simple decoration, like just frosting with whipped cream or buttercream. But I wanted to make a fondant cake that’s supposed to carry a topper. In fact I had two such cakes to make, one with farm animals theme and another with Safari theme. I went with the Hershey’s cake for Safari theme but decided to try a different recipe for the farm theme cake. I didn’t have any problems with the Hershey’s cake, it held the topper just fine. But I still decided to try another recipe to see if I can find a sturdier cake.

The recipe here is from the book Erin Bakes Cake. Its one of the best baking books I have come across. The book gives a lot of ideas for flavor variations, about tweaking a base recipe to get different flavors. I have the library copy with me, but I think I will be buying my own copy soon. This cake was sturdier than the Hershey’s cake, but it wasn’t dense. You can make three 8″ cakes if you are using 2″ deep pans. The recipe for the buttercream can be found here.

For the animal toppers, I have used a mix of gum paste and fondant. The farm animals are sitting on a 1″ tall cake base. The base itself can be taken out before cutting into the cake. So its a good way to save the toppers. It has a long shelf life and so you can display it in a covered glass cabinet. I looked at YouTube Videos for making the animals and made them a week ahead so that they can dry completely.

Recipe Source: Erin Bakes Cake 

Makes three 8″ cakes in 8″X2″ pans

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks/227 gms), softened
  • 2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 cups flour

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and line three 8″ pans.
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the butter for a minute or two. Add both the sugars, baking soda and salt. Beat this mixture until its fluffy and creamy. Stop and scrape the sides down in between so that everything mixes uniformly.
  3. Add the eggs (one at a time) beat it in until its mixed well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the cocoa powder with warm water so that there aren’t any dry lumps. Add the milk and whisk to combine everything.
  5. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour to the butter-egg mixture. Mix it lightly with a rubber spatula. Now beat it in low speed so that flour doesn’t fly everywhere.
  6. Once you stop seeing flour streaks, add half of the milk mixture. Beat it in. Alternate between the flour mix and the milk mix once more.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between three pans. Bake in the middle rack for about 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes free of crumbs. Take out of the oven, let the cake cool in the pan itself for at least 10-15 minutes. Remove from the pan, cover with two rounds of cling wrap and return to the pan until its time for filling and frosting.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#100

Neapolitan Goosebumps cake

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When my friend’s son asked for a Goosebumps cake last year for his birthday, I had no clue what that meant. I didn’t know then that it was a famous children’s horror book series and there was a movie as well based on the book. A Google Image search followed, but most of those cakes seemed beyond my capabilities. But this particular image with black and white stripes and eye balls seemed doable to me. The top of the cake seemed too blank for me, so I decided to make the Goosebumps logo as well.

This, without an iota of doubt, is the best cake I have ever made. I am talking in terms of the whole package of cake and decoration. The base cake is same as this one, the slutty brownie cake. The cake is not only easy to make and delicious, it makes three 9″ cakes, which makes my life easy. The cookies and oreo layer in that post are replaced by strawberry and chocolate layers, which makes this a Neapolitan cake. So a layer of chocolate cake followed by strawberry layer and then simple vanilla cake. Each layer is liberally sprinkled with about 1/4 cup of sugar syrup to make it moist.

Fondant decorations look scary, but in reality its a lot easier than it sounds. Covering the cake is something I still struggle with as I still get a lot of ‘wrinkles’ at the base. But you can always mask it with a border. Handling fondant is like handling play dough. If you have the right equipment, you are good.

Read on for the recipe.

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Recipe source: Whats Gabby Cooking

Ingredients:

Base cake:

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup corn flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk

*Use 4 cups cake flour instead of a mix of flour and corn flour

Strawberry layer:

  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam

chocolate layer:

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Filling, frosting and toppings:

  • simple syrup : boil 1 cup water with half cup sugar. Cool completely.
  • buttercream recipe, twice the quantity
  • 1/2 cup of buttercream from above plus 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • fondant for covering and decorations
  • 1/4 cup melted white chocolate chips colored with green food coloring for slime

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line three 9″ pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, corn flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat the butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and continue beating at medium speed. Once the four eggs are combined well, add the vanilla essence and beat it in.
  4. We have to add the flour in three batches, alternating it with the buttermilk. That means, we have to first add 1/3rd of the flour mix into the butter mix. Beat at a lower speed to avoid spilling of the flour all over. Once the flour is mixed in without streaks, add one cup of buttermilk and continue beating. Now add half of the leftover flour mix. Once that’s mixed well, add in the rest of buttermilk. Once that’s combined well, add the remaining flour. At any point, you can stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to help combine the batter better.
  5. Divide the batter into three bowls. Add 1/3 cup cocoa powder into one batch, 1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves into another. Leave the third one plain.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 35-45 minutes until a skewer comes free of cake crumbs when inserted into the middle of the cake.
  7. Take off the oven, let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Then take off the pan, cling wrap it two times and return to the same pan until its time to decorate.
  8. For decorating, prepare the butter cream. Take half cup of the buttercream and add 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder for making chocolate buttercream. Fill and frost the cake only after its completely cool.
  • Divide the batter into three bowls. Add 1/3 cup cocoa powder into one batch, 1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves into another. Leave the third one plain. Bake until a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake. About 40 minutes or so.

When the cake has completely cooled down, level the cakes. Save the domes for making the eye balls. Anchor the chocolate cake with a little buttercream to the base. Sprinkle sugar syrup all over the cake and spread a layer of chocolate buttercream. Top with vanilla cake. Spread and level a layer of buttercream. Top with the strawberry layer.

Frost the cake with buttercream. Crumb coat and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before adding one more layer of buttercream.

Cover with fondant and decorate as desired. The eye balls are the leveled cake portions mixed with a little buttercream to give sturdiness. I wrapped them with fondant without any buttercream underneath.

The green slime is MW melted white chocolate chips. I added green food coloring once it was melted completely.

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This post is a part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

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