Banana bread in disguise

If it’s shaped like banana bread, and it smells like banana bread, but looks nothing like banana bread, is it banana bread? That is the question.

Banana bread is one of those. You know what I mean. Everybody and their granny can make it with their eyes closed, yet when I try, things just don’t happen the way they should. My first loaf was half-raw, my second was a brick. Third time was not a charm, I brought a bag of bananas to Hobby Victim’s house, and I don’t remember what happened but we didn’t end up making banana bread. The bag of ripe bananas lay forgotten on the counter, until her daughter discovered a putrid mystery mess. (I am still embarrassed.)

My failure to make a perfect tea bread came up with Best Friend the other week.

“I’m making banana bread soon, hopefully. My banana loaf never work out.”

Any loaf you make never works out.”

“Touché!”

Okay, I thought. Obviously my attempts to re-create family recipes isn’t working, so what do the pros do? I found this recipe in KitchenAid 3 cookbooks in 1: pies & tarts, cakes & cupcakes; breads which is available on Amazon.com and while it seemed pretty straight forward, I’m still not sure I have real banana bread.

Time required: 2 hours

Yields: 8-10

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $30.00

Cost per slice: $3.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the KitchenAid
  • flour sifter
  • metal loaf pan
  • tinfoil

You may be wondering why there are no bananas in this picture. Well. They uh… seemed over-ripe, almost to the point of “Should these be tossed out or are they still okay?” and I decided they looked too scary for the shot.

Ingredients:

  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅓ C brown sugar, packed
  • ⅓ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 bananas, ripe
  • ½ TSP vanilla
  • 1½ C flour
  • 2½ TSP baking powder
  • ¼ TSP salt

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 176°C / 350°F. Line pan with tinfoil and grease.

2. Cream butter and sugars in mixer until light and fluffy.

3. Add eggs one at a time, then add bananas and vanilla. You’re supposed to mash the bananas first, but uh… mine had reached the point of cellular degeneration where mashing was no longer required.

4. In a bowl sift flour, baking powder, and salt.

5. Add gradually to wet mix and mix until just combined.

6. Spoon batter in pan and bake 50 min.

7. Remove from pan and set on wire rack, cool in pan for 1 hour. Toothpick test indicated doneness.

8. Remove foil and slice.

Hmm. Is this normal?

Verdict:

“Do you think it’s done?”

“I don’t know. Let’s eat some.”

“Why is it so light? It’s supposed to be dark brown… ”

“It tastes good, that’s all I care about.”

Playlist: The Servant – Cells

Apple pie

Last night the stars aligned, and Boyfriend and I both had the same day off. It’s a provincial holiday, so  we stayed indoors, playing video games and cooking. He made dinner and I made dessert. This is my first pie where dreaded Frankencrust did not appear. Tah-dah!

It looks much better than all my previous pies. Am so happy!

I love pie. I don’t post pie recipes, because mine are very often disappointing. It seems like I’m not the best person to give advice on how to make a pie, if my own are not up to the exacting standards I want (basically, to make a pie like my older sister makes).

This ends now. As I told Boyfriend, while we enjoyed our pie:

“Prepare to be fattened. This is the year I master pie. I’m going to do it. You’re going to eat it.”

“Okay then!”

Whoa, that is a lot of liquid. Not sure what happened there. C’est la vie. I haven’t been baking very much this month. Too busy immersed in Skyrim and the glorious side quests. Overall I’m having a very lazy extended weekend and if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to read!

Blueberry poppy seed cake

Initially I planned to make a tea bread with a light lemon frosting, but Boyfriend persuaded me to skip the frosting and try blueberry cake as-is. Hmm. Will it be good?

This recipe also comes from KitchenAid 3 cookbooks in 1: pies & tarts, cakes & cupcakes; breads, which is available on Amazon.com which has turned out to a good find so far.

Time required: 1 hour

Yields: 10-12 pieces

Cost per portion: $4.25

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $51.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the KitchenAid
  • pastry blender
  • round 9″ pan
  • tin foil

Ingredients:

  • 1½ C flour
  • ½ C granulated white sugar
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • ½ TSP baking soda
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • ¼ C butter, cold (half a stick)
  • 1 TBSP poppy seeds
  • ¾ C buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TSP vanilla
  • 1 TSP lemon juice
  • 1 C blueberries, washed and dried

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 176.6°C / 350°F. Line baking pan with foil, and grease.

2. In a large bowl, combine: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. Use pastry blender to cut in butter until coarse crumbs form.

4. Mix in poppy seeds.

5. In mixer, whisk eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, and lemon juice.

6. Add wet mixture to dry, until just combined.

7. Place half of the batter into prepared pan, then sprinkle berries into batter.

8. Drop remaining batter onto the berries, and attempt to spread evenly. Leave some berries uncovered.

9. Bake 33 min.  Cool in pan for 2 min after baking, then use tinfoil to lift from pan.

10. Use mad ninja skills to remove tinfoil, and cool at least 15 min before slicing.

Verdict:

“That smells really good.”

“Thanks. I’ve never made it before.”

“I don’t think I’m going to share any of this at work.”

“Why not?”

“It’s MINE.”

“Well technically babe, it’s mine. But you can have some.”

Now I have almost a litre of buttermilk in the fridge and no idea what else to do with it, so I predict cupcakes are in the near future.

Playlist: Florence + The Machine

Plum-side down cakes

Nothing is sweeter than a ripe plum. Alas, winter plums are not very juicy, but I have just discovered a recipe which uses under-ripe plums, and it is quite delectable.

Dad always buys plums, and when I visit we go for a drive, eat plums, and talk. Eating a plum while you are driving is harder than you might think, and the passenger is in charge of  the Napkin Brigade, in order for both occupants of the car to enjoy a peaceful, plum-filled scenic trip

This recipe comes from KitchenAid 3 cookbooks in 1: pies & tarts, cakes & cupcakes; breads, which is available on Amazon.com if you’re inclined to check it out.

Time required: 1 hour

Yields: 8 cakes

Cost per portion: $4.37

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $35.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the KitchenAid
  • muffin tin
  • baking pan

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2-3 plums, underripe
  • ½ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 TBSP white shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • ⅓ C milk

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 176.6°C / 350°F.  Set muffin tin on top of a large baking tray (to catch runoff) and grease 8 of the cups.

2. Wash the plums, and slice into narrow pieces.  The recipe said to use 3, but I only had room for one and a half.

3. Melt butter in the microwave and stir in brown sugar.

Spoon into muffin cups, and layer plum slices on top of butter. I placed 2 slices in each cup.

4. Beat white sugar and shortening in mixer until fluffy.

5. Combine in a bowl: flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into shortening mixture.

6. Add milk and beat on medium until smooth.

7. Spoon into muffin cups, and shake to settle. (The book said to fill the cups about two thirds of the way, but my muffin pan is shallow so I just tried to divide the batter evenly and this is what I got. Hope this works out!)

8. Bake for 20 min, until a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly.

See how the brown sugar mixture bubbled up? That’s why we put a tray under the pan.

9. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 min, then run knife around edges to loosen the cakes. Invert onto the rack and…

…is this normal??  Use tongs to pick up the fruit pieces and drop them on top of the cakes.

10. Cool another 5 minutes before eating:

Verdict: Plum cake is delicious. Now I see why it says to use 3 plums,you are not trying to evenly line the bottom, just put several slices in each cup. I know for next time.  I think you have enough batter to make more than 8, they would just be thinner. These were great.

Playlist: Florence + the Machine

Pumpkin roll

“Pumpkiny goodness.”

(That’s what Boyfriend came up with when I said I didn’t know how to introduce this post.)

This recipe comes from Nestlé’s Chocolate 3 Books In 1 which is available from Amazon.com.

Time required: 2.5 hours

Yields: 10 slices

Cost per slice: $4.43

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $44.34

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • baking pan: 15″ x 10″
  • sifter
  • wax paper and plastic wrap

Roll ingredients:

  • ¾ C flour
  • ½ TSP baking powder
  • ½ TSP baking soda
  • ½ TSP ground cinnamon
  • ½ TSP ground cloves
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1 C white sugar
  • ⅔ C pure pumpkin

Frosting ingredients:

  • 8 oz block of cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 C icing sugar, sifted
  • 6 TBSP butter, room temp
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 190.5°C / 375°F.  Prepare baking pan by greasing it, then line with wax paper, then grease and flour the paper. Then place a large piece of wax paper down on a flat surface and dust it with icing sugar for later.

2. Combine: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.

3. In a mixer, beat eggs and sugar until it thickens.  Add pumpkin.

4. Stir flour mixture into wet, adding about one third at a time.

5. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake 13 min, when it’s done if you press lightly on the top with a spoon it should bounce back up.

6. Invert pan onto flat piece of wax paper.  Carefully peel the paper off the back (the bottom) of the cake.

7. Start at the end closest to you, and using the piece of wax paper on the bottom, gently roll the cake up onto itself, and place on wire rack to cool.

8. Meanwhile, make frosting by combining all ingredients in mixer and beat til smooth.

9. Unroll the cake, and remove the wax paper.  Spread frosting across it, and roll back up. Good luck with this part.

10. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

To prevent roll from spreading out, creatively ram it into a pan and put other items in the pan to hold it against the side.

11. Slice and serve!

Verdict:

“I don’t know how to classify this post.”

“How about delicious?”

“You liked it that much eh?”

This turned out really well. I’d recommend less frosting, the amount you get from the recipe is really too much, it was oozing everywhere.  A thin layer of frosting would be fine.

Playlist: enjoying the silence!

Cookies ‘n cream fudge

Creamy and smooth, and one of my personal favourites, I have not tasted cookies ‘n cream fudge in over a year. Imagine! I decided to make my own. But can you make fudge successfully when you can’t find one of the main ingredients?

Oh, I guess you can. I suppose that would be more of a cliff-hanger question if I didn’t follow up with the picture of the finished product. Oh fudge! (Hah!) This recipe comes from Nestlé’s Chocolate 3 Books In 1 which is on Amazon.com. Am really digging this book so far.

Good to know before you start:

The recipe calls for “marshmallow crème” and “Nestlé white morsels”, whatever that is. I couldn’t find it.

After unsuccessfully scoping both the baking aisle and the junk aisle at the store, I called my mother, who consulted her neighbour, and they determined marshmallow crème is marshmallow fluff, and I should find it with the pre-made chocolate sauces for ice cream. (Thanks Mom!)

I couldn’t find a 7 oz jar of fluff, but I did find a 7.5 oz jar, and I emptied the entire jar except for about two spoonfuls. Not sure how to measure ounces.

I used white chocolate baking squares instead of Nestlé morsels.

I used 12 double-stuffed Oreo cookies.

I did not use the jar of Oreo crumbs in the background.

Time required: 2 hrs

Yields: 48 pieces

Cost per piece: $1.60

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $30.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • food processor
  • baking pan 9″ x 9″
  • tinfoil

Ingredients:

  • 3 C granulated white sugar
  • ¾ C butter (1 and a half sticks)
  • ⅔ C evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces white chocolate (12 squares)
  • 7 oz marshmallow fluff
  •  ½ C finely pulsed Oreos (4 cookies)
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 1 C quartered Oreos, chop them loosely (8 cookies)

Instructions:

1. Line baking pan with foil, and set aside the following ingredients for later:

  • pulse four Oreos into fine crumbs using a food processor (use the entire cookie plus filling, not just the wafer)
  • chop eight Oreos into rough quarters using a sharp knife
  • use sharp knife to quarter each square of white chocolate

Double-stuffed cookies are messy to chop, but the pieces are not supposed to look even, so that was fine. Interesting fact: when you pulse Oreos the filling becomes invisible. Why? Who knows!

2. Combine in a large sauce pan on medium heat: sugar, butter, and evaporated milk. Heat to a rolling boil while stirring constantly. Continue to boil and stir for 3 min, then remove from heat.

See those dark flecks? That is burnt sugar from the bottom which happened because I don’t have a heavy-bottomed pan. :/

3. Immediately stir in: white chocolate, marshmallow fluff, vanilla, and crushed Oreos.

I waited until the white chocolate and fluff had been combined before adding the crumbs.

Ooh it’s starting to get exciting! Well, you might not agree, but I was pretty excited.

4. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Are you feeling proud because the surface is so smooth after you fussed endlessly over it? Waste of time, it’s going to become lumpy in the next step.

I actually don’t have a 9″ x 9″ pan, this is 8″ x 8″ so it will be a bit higher than it should be.

5. Sprinkle the chopped Oreos on the top, and use a butter knife to lightly swirl the cookie pieces into the fudge. You are not trying to hide the pieces entirely, just poke them down a bit, parts should stick up.

6. Chill at least 1 hour before slicing.  See how parts stick out? Neat-o.

Sorry about the lighting here, it’s dark out now.

Verdict: Creamy! Stupendous!

After I took the final picture I approached Boyfriend.

“It’s done! Want a piece? I cut them big for the photo shoot, we could split a piece.”

“Geez! How about we have dinner first? That’s huge. I’ve never turned down fudge before but…  that’s huge!!”

Humph.

Won’t try my fudge, will you??

That just won’t do.

I took the pieces back into the kitchen and carved them smaller, then we sampled, and both agreed they were delicious. Making Oreo fudge was a lot easier than I anticipated and it turned out perfectly.

Next time I might skip the double-stuffed and just use regular Oreos.

What is your favourite type of fudge?

Playlist: screaming Brazilian fans (Boyfriend is watching UFC, ugh)

Chocolate caramels

Last night I ventured into bold new territory: the art of candy making.  Chocolate caramels dusted with coarse sea salt are probably not the best breakfast, but this is from the girl who used to eat brown sugar for breakfast so really, what did you expect?

I adapted this recipe from Nestlé’s Chocolate 3 Books In 1 which is on Amazon.com. My last few attempts to make caramel failed miserably, so let’s see how this goes.

Good to know before you start: Caramel can be a dangerous item to make. You must heat sugar to a very high temperature and hot sugar is like napalm, it will burn you terribly.

Before you begin, fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes, and in the event of a burn, immediately submerge the injured arm into the cold water.

Minimize the risk of burns by wearing a heavy long-sleeved shirt, use long oven mitts, and do not put your face near the pot. Be aware that caramel will bubble up like lava once liquid is added, use a deep pot and a long-handled spoon to stir. Stir slowly, avoid splashing.

You need at least 45 minutes in the kitchen uninterrupted.  You cannot walk away from the stove, so pre-measure your ingredients and only start caramel when you have the time to do it, don’t try to rush it or you’ll be sorry.

The original recipe uses two packets (each 1 oz) of Nestlé Toll House CHOCO BAKE pre-melted unsweetened chocolate flavour. I have no idea what that is, and I substituted with cocoa powder and two extra tablespoons of butter.  If using the Choco Bake stuff you only need 1 C of butter.

Time required: 1 hr, plus over night to set

Yields: about 28 pieces

Cost per piece: $1.21

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $34.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • candy thermometer
  • baking pan 8″ x 8″ and one larger one
  • tin foil
  • plastic wrap
  • mini muffin cups
  • ice cubes

Ingredients:

  • 18 TBSP unsalted butter (2 sticks + 2 TBSP), melted
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C corn syrup
  • 414 mL sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 TBSP cocoa
  • 1 TSP pure vanilla extract
  • coarse sea salt

Instructions:

1. Line baking pan with foil and grease.

2. Measure out condensed milk and cocoa, set aside.

3. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add: butter, white and brown sugars, and corn syrup. Cook over Medium heat, stirring constantly.

Mix it all up…

4. Once mixture is boiling, add cocoa powder and condensed milk. Reduce heat to Medium-Low and stir often (almost constantly).

The goal is to obtain a temperature of 118°C / 245°F which should take at least half an hour. Once it’s been bubbling that long, check with a candy thermometer, which is soft ball stage.

Stirring in the cocoa took awhile, it kept floating up and not blending. After 5 min or so it started to look like this:

5. As soon as you reach correct temperature, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

6. Immediately pour into prepared pan, be very careful not to splash yourself.

(In the back is my candy thermometer sitting on the big spoon thing.)

Place dish into cold water bath, this will lower the temperature so the caramel does not keep cooking into the hard ball stage.

7. After the water is no longer cold, remove from water and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it on the counter overnight to set.

It’s easier to handle if you use plastic wrap instead of your bare hands. Cut with a sharp knife.

8. Set into muffin cups, and sprinkle with salt.

Verdict: These were good. Eventually I want to progress to making real caramel without corn syrup but this is a good start. The last few times I’ve attempted real caramel with just sugar and cream and vanilla it was a disaster but this turned out very well.

I tried one without salt, way too sweet though.

Playlist: Jem & the Holograms soundtrack

Milk chocolate Florentine cookies

I have no idea what a Florentine cookie is but I’m going to make them because I’m hardcore like that. Actually one reason I like making recipes I’ve never tried is there is no preconception of how the item should taste. I find that competing with nostalgia is often a quick road to disappointment.

Since I don’t know what to expect I’m going to treat this like a scientific experiment. I will need to:

  • ask a question
  • do background research
  • construct a hypothesis
  • test my hypothesis by running an experiment
  • analyze data and draw a conclusion
  • communicate your results

Notes related to the experiment will be written in red, like so.

Ask a question: what is a Florentine?

Do background research: I used my Google-Fu but was not enlightened. I have deduced that a Florentine is a flat, “Old World favourite”, sometimes made with cheap ingredients and sometimes jazzed up with lots of funky stuff, but mainly a sandwich-style cookie with a layer of something between the cookies. But that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. I remain confused.

Construct a hypothesis: If I follow the recipe in Chocolate 3 books in 1 by Nestlé, which is available on Amazon.com, I will make Florentine cookies, and I will know what they are.

(Mini book review: hard cover, sturdy ring binding, some good recipe ideas, lots of pictures, the majority of the recipes are contained on one page each which is always a plus. It contains contains Holiday ClassicsVery Best Baking, and Family Favorites. Cannot locate on on Amazon.ca)

Time required: 1 hr

Yields: supposedly 42 cookies

Cost per cookie: $1.24

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $34.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • large cookie tray
  • tinfoil

Ingredients:

  •  ⅔ C butter, melted (10.6 TBSP)
  • 2 C quick oats
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • ⅔ C flour
  • ¼ C corn syrup
  • ½ C milk
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • 1¾ C milk chocolate chips, melted

Test my hypothesis by doing an experiment:

1. Pre-heat oven to 190.5°C / 375°F. Line baking tray with tin foil.

2. Measure out and set aside:

  • wet mixture: milk, corn syrup, vanilla
  • dry mixture: combine in a medium bowl: oats, flour, sugar, and salt
  • chocolate chips (in a small microwave-safe bowl)

In retrospect I would have put the milk and corn syrup into one liquid measuring cup.

3. Melt butter in large pan and remove from heat.

(The vanilla was added here. I was not very efficient in making these.)

4. Stir wet mixture and dry mixture into the butter.

5. Drop cookies by using a level teaspoon onto foil, about 3 inches apart, and spread flat with a spatula.

Poor experiment control # 1: accidentally used tablespoon instead of teaspoon. Big cookies.

Hmm. Lots of goop. Not liking this so far.

6. Bake 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. I expected flat cookies since there is no leavening agent but I didn’t expect them to spread out into Mega-Cookie.

Perhaps it would have been smarter using a maximum of 2 cookies per row, teaspoon sized.

7. Cool cookies completely in pan on wire rack. Once cooled, remove from foil and flip upside down.

Poor experiment control # 2: a lot harder said than done, used a butter knife to pry them apart. Much cursing and shouting.

8. Melt chocolate chips by microwaving on High for 1 min or so, stirring until smooth.  Spread melted chocolate over half of the cookies (on the flat sides), then top with the remaining half of the cookies.

Poor experiment control # 3: didn’t want to eat a lot of cookies so returned most of the chocolate chips back in the container, and melted about ¼C. Am unable to comment on how these cookies taste the next day after the chocolate has set. This is bad science!!

Analyze your data and draw conclusions: I didn’t like these at all. They were very greasy, and the taste was nothing special. I used cheap vanilla extract but doubt my premium vanilla would have saved them.

I suspect Boyfriend didn’t like them either. He didn’t say, but normally he’s falling over himself to eat my cookies (naughty!), but not this time.

I made these because I’ve had a bottle of corn syrup for a year and done nothing with it, and I wanted to get rid of some ingredients in the pantry before Boyfriend has an apoplexy every time he opens it. “It’s bursting with stuff Patty, why do you need so much stuff??”

I’m looking forward to trying other recipes from this book though.

Conjecture:

  1. Is this really an “Old World favourite”? I am thinking no, not if it’s made like this.
  2. Suspect this recipe is loosely based off the idea of a traditional Florentine, whatever that is, but Americanized to utilize cheap ingredients and make it easier to produce. Hard to  imagine traditional Florentines contain corn syrup and quick oats.
  3. Suspect cookies from the Old World, like their architecture, is superior to modern ones. Suspect a traditional Florentine is probably delicious and nothing at all like this recipe.

Playlist: Ayashi no Ceres – OST

Communicate your results: and… publish!

Have you ever been disappointed by a new recipe?

White velvet cupcakes

Velvet. Silk. Leather. At what point do textile-inspired recipe names become weird? Oh, who cares. I have never eaten white velvet before, and I’ve been curious about it for some time.

I found an amusing white velvet recipe on cookbookmaniac that appealed to me, and I paired it the cream cheese frosting in my Betty Crocker book.

Good to know before you start: This recipe uses cake flour which is milled from soft wheat flour (as opposed to all-purpose flour which is milled from a blend of soft and hard wheats), which results in a finished product with a very tender crumb.  Cake flour also has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour.

You can find regular cake flour and self-rising cake flour, which already contains salt and baking powder. I used self-rising, so I skipped the salt entirely and lowered the amount of baking powder. The original recipe calls for full cream milk and caster sugar which I don’t have, so I substituted with granulated white sugar and 2% milk.

Cream cheese frosting must be refrigerated. If you are like me, and don’t like cold cupcakes, don’t frost them ahead of time. Store the cupcakes at room temperature and frost them as needed.

Time required: 2 hours

Yields: 36 mini cupcakes

Cost per cupcake: $1.17

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $42.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid

Cake ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites, room temp
  • ⅔ C milk
  • 1½ TSP vanilla extract
  • 2 C self-rising cake flour
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 TSP baking powder (instead of 2½ TSP)
  • NO SALT (instead of ½ TSP)
  • ½ C butter, room temp

Frosting ingredients:

  • one 8 0z block of cream cheese, room temp
  • 4 TBSP butter, room temp
  • 1 TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 4 C icing sugar

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 175°C / 347°F. Use rack that is third from the top.

2. Separate the egg whites into a medium bowl, and save the yolks for something else. Stir in the vanilla and three tablespoons of the milk. Whisk until just combined.

You know, I really wanted to show you a picture of me separating egg whites like a pro, but since nobody was home to be my camera man you’ll just have to use your imagination.

3. In your mixer, with a flat beater attachment, add: cake flour, white sugar, and baking powder. Beat on Low for 30 seconds.

4. Add butter and remaining milk. Beat on Low until combined, and then beat on Medium for 90 seconds.

This is the first time I’ve used the flat beater and it is AWESOME. It is so much easier to beat ingredients with, why did  I use the wire whip for so long??

5. Add half the egg white mixture and continue on Medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add the remaining egg whites, beat another 30 seconds.

6. Spoon into muffin tins.  Bake 14 minutes. Cool in pan for 1 minute, before transferring to cooling rack for at least one hour before frosting.

7. Make your frosting by combining the cream cheese, butter, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat well, and add the icing sugar one cup at a time. Beat until smooth.

(Edit Aug 17, 8:40am) Got up early to take one more picture.

Verdict: Delicious. White velvet cake is really good. My frosting turned out very runny though, next time will use a little less milk, and more icing sugar. These were a big hit, Boyfriend was quite impressed.

It has an unique texture and comes out of the oven so pale, an interesting change from the cupcakes I’m used to. Really enjoyed these.

No idea why I only got 36 minis instead 48, which is what I usually get from converting a cake recipe to minis.

I was discussing this recipe with Best Friend, who (poor girl) has never eaten any type of velvet cake.  Can you imagine? That’s going to be remedied STAT next time I go home.

Next up: blue velvet!

Playlist: A-ha – Take On Me

Devil’s cupcakes

If being damned meant I could eat devil’s food cake every day then send me straight to hell.

What makes a “classic” devil’s food cake recipe is debatable, but one thing is not open for discussion, and that is the simple fact that devil’s food cake is delicious. Alternately known as the the best cake ever, devil’s food is a rich, moist, airy cake.

I was compelled to make these after several late-night Diablo 2 sessions with Boyfriend. After a few dungeon crawls which culminated in fighting various demons and devils, I woke up the other day with three words on my mind: devil’s food cake. It’s divine inspiration.

These were made from the “classic devil’s food cake” recipe in my beloved Chocolate! book by Good Housekeeping, which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. I planned to make chocolate buttercream but when it was time to make the frosting I forgot, so these beauties are frosted with luscious vanilla buttercream.

Good to know before you start: although you can substitute buttermilk by adding white vinegar to regular milk, it is worth using real buttermilk for this. I’ve done the substitution a few times, but I find the flavour and texture of cake batter made with real buttermilk is much, much better. I spent $2.69 on a 1L carton.

I used to avoid buying it because I had no idea what to do with the leftover milk, but I will just MAKE MORE CUPCAKES NOM NOM NOM.

Before you open the buttermilk shake it well.

I was experimenting with camera settings for these shots. My apologies if the lightning is off.

Time required: 1.5 hours

Yields: 48 mini cupcakes, 24 regular cupcakes, or three 8″ round cakes

Cost per mini cupcake: $1.08

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $42-$52 depending on the quality of vanilla extract

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer!
  • 2 mini cupcake trays

Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa
  • 1½ TSP baking soda
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ½ C unsalted butter (one stick), room temp
  • 1 C golden brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1½ TSP vanilla extract
  • 1½ C buttermilk

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 177°C / 350°F. Place cupcake liners in trays. (For round cakes, grease the pans, line with parchment paper, and dust with cocoa.)

2. In a medium bowl combine: flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a mixing bowl at low speed, beat: butter, brown sugar, and white sugar, until blended. Increase speed to high: beat 5 min until it’s light and fluffy.

4. Reduce speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time.

Sometimes when Boyfriend walks into the kitchen, he will find me already in there, staring at my blue mixer.

“What are you doing?”

“Admiring.”

“Er…okay then.” (as he slowly backs away)

5. Beat in vanilla.

6. Add the dry mixture and buttermilk alternating like so: half of the flour, all the buttermilk, and the rest of the flour. After each addition beat until just combined. Scrape the sides a few times and make sure the batter is smooth.

7. Bake times: 14-15 min for mini cupcakes, at least 20 min for full size cupcakes, 30-35 min for 8″ rounds.

If making the round cakes, place two pans on top rack and one on bottom rack, no pan should be completely on top of another to allow air circulation.

A toothpick inserted should come out nearly clean.

Let cupcakes cool in pan one minute before removing from pan and placing on rack.

Let cakes cool 10 minutes before using thin knife to loosen edges and inverting onto rack.

Cool for at least one hour before frosting.

8. Frost! Oops. Forgot about making chocolate buttercream and made my regular vanilla buttercream for this: cream together 5 TBSP of unsalted butter at room temperature with 3 C of icing sugar. One at a time, mix in 1 TBSP milk, 1 TSP pure vanilla, and 1 TBSP lemon juice. If desired add a few drops of food colouring.

Verdict: Delicious. OMG. Delicious. Love love love. Real buttermilk batter is where it’s at.

Although I like mini cupcakes (because I can argue that eating two is only the equivalent of one), making them is aggravating. Manipulating batter into such a small space is so annoying. I have half a carton of buttermilk left though. Ah hah! I’ll just make full size cupcakes!!

I’ve been looking for an excuse to practice making buttercream roses. Perhaps I failed at making a perfect rose (more of an artists’ interpretation of a white carnation) but whatever! I still make heavenly cupcakes. The humidity is part of the problem, normally my frosting is firmer, but it’s been so humid and it came out slightly runny, which made is easy to pipe but it couldn’t hold a shape well.

I’ll make up another batch in a few days and will definitely go for chocolate buttercream.

What is your favourite cupcake and frosting flavour combination?

Playlist: Depeche Mode