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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Where there's a cupcake there's a way

            There always seems to be a fad in cooking and baking. I have been in the field of baking close to ten years now, and have seen many things come in and out of style. In the nineties big, extravagant wedding cakes were totally in, with multiple tiers, they even had little ladders with people on them and fountains. I am really glad they went out of style along with the wedding dresses with big puffy sleeves. Then wedding cakes started to become these sleek and simple designs, with no ruffles and fresh flowers. I have to admit, it was a good change. It seems as though simple continues to pull through, odd and eccentric designs started popping up. I feel as though the show Ace of Cakes had an influence on this theme. Non-conventional designs such as a redneck couple getting a tractor shaped cake or once I did a wedding cake for a motorcycle couple that was theme after the movie The Corpse Bride. Now I would have to say the current fad is definitely cupcakes.

            It wasn’t too long ago a friend of mine thought the Rogue Valley needed some form of a cupcakery, and then the universe responded. Currently in the area there are four known cupcake shops, and it seems every time I turn around, another one is opening. Being a fellow baker I must check them out, and only one has really impressed me. Out in Talent, Oregon there is a place called The Cupcake Daily, and they are doing some amazing things. They dropped off some amazing bacon and maple cupcakes at my work, and they tasted like breakfast in a delicious paper cup. They also have other amazing flavors using interesting ingredients like avocado, jalapeno, as well as dietary variations including vegan and gluten-free. I feel as though to make it as a cupcakery, you need to be as creative as you are delicious and they seem to be the ones that are accomplishing this.
            Now the big thing is doing cupcakes for your wedding instead of a cake, or some variation. Some people love it, some people not so much, and I find that it depends on the cupcake. A cupcake can look beautiful, but taste awful and vise versa. I think there can be an elegant way of doing it, while making it delicious as well as creating a new way to make your wedding day special. I am actually planning on doing a cupcake wedding cake for next fall, and am excited to create it to make it both beautiful and tasty for the bride. Cupcakes can not only make a statement but also create a variety a wedding cake couldn’t provide before.           

I also feel cupcakes are great items if you having a hankering for something sweet around the house, and you can make a few so tempting items aren’t lying around for weeks. Also, you can modify for average cupcake for those average days when you feel as though a treat is needed but you want something with some health value as well. Check these recipes out, including a gluten-free.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes


            3 eggs
            3/4 cup buttermilk
            3/4 cup vegetable oil
            1 1/2 cups white sugar
            2 teaspoons vanilla extract
            2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
            1/4 teaspoon salt
            2 cups all-purpose flour
            2 teaspoons baking soda
            2 cups shredded carrots
            1 cup flaked coconut
            1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
            1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
            1 cup raisins (optional)


        Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8x12 inch
pan. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.            

In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add
flour mixture and mix well.  In an addition bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins. Add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.

        Pour into prepared 8x12 inch pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are springy.

Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before applying icing.

Gluten Free Banana Cupcakes


            2 cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour
            1 teaspoon baking powder
            1/2 teaspoon salt
            1/2 cup butter
            1/2 cup turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
            2 eggs, lightly beaten
            3 tablespoons maple syrup
            6 ripe bananas, mashed


Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

        In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs, maple syrup and mashed bananas until well blended. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture; mix until batter is just moist. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. If using muffin or cupcake tins, bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

---- This frosting is intended for both recipes, please use this or your own creation J -----

Cream Cheese Frosting


            2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
            1/2 cup butter, softened
            2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
            1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, and then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

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