Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blast from my Past - Buttermilk Cupcakes

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As a kind of homage to my past, I decided to make yellow buttermilk cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. You see the first thing I ever baked, from scratch that is, was a batch of buttermilk cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I can't tell you what made me want to bake them or why I thought they would be good. I remember seeing the recipe for the cupcakes in the back of a magazine, although I am not sure which one.

I remember buying all the ingredients because before then, we really did not have lots of baking goods. We had some old flour, and a small amount of sugar. And when the recipe called for cake flour as well, we kind of had no idea what that was.We didn't even really keep milk in the house (no one really liked to drink it). We had to buy baking powder and soda, and I used years old vanilla extract. Before those cupcakes, we weren't really a baking family. Sure my dad and mom cooked a lot, and very well I might add, but baking was not something either one of them really did, and if we did have some baked goods it probably came from Pillsbury, Betty Crocker or Duncan-Hines.
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I got out our old, old stand mixer from the mid 80s that had a semi-broken beater and kind of sounded like it was dying when it was on. I combined the ingredients, although I had no idea about all the little things like how to measure them out correctly. I didn't even own any dry measuring cups, and instead found an ancient 1/4 cup measure that I used. I had no measuring spoons either and so I just used this old one I found at the back of our junk drawer. I didn't know to bring the eggs to room temperature or how to actually soften butter. I didn't know what 2/3 full meant when filling cupcakes. However, when it came to the timing it was like something just clicked. I got them out when they were exactly perfect, just knowing to check even when the timer said an extra 5 minutes.

Even being an extreme baking novice at the time, they still magically managed to turn out OK. Actually, better than OK, they were delicious. When my family told me how great they were, I felt really proud because it was all my work and it was all from scratch. I wouldn't say that it was like a light bulb moment and I immediately loved baking, but it showed me I could do it.

Over that first year I baked periodically. I had some disasters-like the homemade pumpkin cookies that when I went to cut the batch in half, I cut everything else but the flour and salt so the cookies were kind of salty. Slowly over that year, I started acquiring baking utensils like pans, measuring cups and extracts.
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It wasn't until about a year ago I really got into baking. I started baking more and more often, although I usually stuck to cupcakes and cookies. When school started last year, I brought my goods to school. People really like my stuff, and that encouraged me to bake more. One kid offered to buy my baked goods! Pretty soon I had a hand mixer and could bake more things. I tried my hand at royal icing at Halloween for the first time, which was a big step for me. I started reading baking blogs and that gave me a lot of inspiration. Finally in April, I started one of my own. This blog gave me the excuse to try different things and my passion for baking really exploded.

Now I have come full-circle exploring the very first thing I baked, again. I am not using the same recipe as I have lost the article, but from what I can recollect it is a very similar recipe. I am frosting it in cream-cheese for the same nostalgic flavor.

Speaking on a kind of unrelated note, I was arguing my friend about something concerning cupcakes. Is a cupcake the entire package including the cake and frosting or just simply the cake. Do you say buttermilk cake and cream-cheese frosting cupcakes or do you say buttermilk cupcakes with cream-cheese frosting as two separate entities? I think a cupcake is in theory the entire package including the frosting but in a sentence it usually refers to just the cake. I don't know guys... What do you think? Leave it in a comment, if you like.

I got this recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. This will be the first recipe I try from the book, but I have used Martha Stewarts recipes for cupcakes before. The buttermilk doesn't really do anything different for the flavor that is noticeable but what it does to the texture is amazing. It makes the cake tender, and combined with the cake flour makes for an incredibly light and fluffy cake, while the all purpose flour keeps it from being too tender that it falls apart.
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These cupcakes are a slight twist on the standard yellow cake-vanilla buttercream icing combo, but could work in any situation where you would normally use that, a birthday party, after dinner treat or at a picnic. Then again, some people aren't a fan of cream-cheese frosting (like my dad) but also some people don't like vanilla buttercream either (like me) so you never can please everyone! :)
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Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
Makes 36 standard cupcakes (you could cut this in half for less cupcakes but be warned it calls for 5 eggs)

3 cups cake flour, like Soft-as-Silk. It is usually in a cereal-box sized box, not a bag!
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/8 cups butter (2 and 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees farhenheit.Line standard muffin cups with paper liners.

  2. Sift together all dry ingredients, excluding sugar, into a medium bowl.

  3. With a mixer on med-high speed, cream butter and sugar until more pale in color. Reduce speed and add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Add egg yolks and beat until combined.

  4. Reduce speed to low or off. (Trust me you want to do this very low, it seems like an amateur mistake but not thinking I made it and flour went everywhere!) Add the sifted mixture in three batches, alternating with two batches of butter milk. (Basically like flour-buttermilk-flour-buttermilk-flour, but you probably didn't need me to reiterate that.) Beat until combined after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

  5. Divide between the muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. (These do not rise a whole lot, but they do rise.)

  6. Bake for around 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  7. Once cool spread with frosting (recipe below).

Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
Makes 4 cups (Plenty to generously frost all 36 cupcakes)

2 sticks unsalted butter
12 ounces (1 1/2 8oz packages) cream cheese
1 pound (4 cups) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.With a mixer on med-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until very fluffy, around 3 minutes
2.Reduce speed to low or off and add sugar in eight increments. Scrape down bowl after each increment.
3.Once combined, add vanilla and mix until smooth.

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Hey guys, and gals too! I just wanted to say I have some really great dishes coming up as well as something really special right before my school hiatus! I got my logo up and formatted the colors. I think it looks a little bit more professional and streamlined and elegant and that is really want I am trying to convey. Hopefully it can help take this blog to new levels. Once again, thank you guys for reading. It really means the world to me!


Anonymous said...

I remember one of my first attempts at baking when I was probably nine or ten. I desperately wanted to bake biscuits, and found a recipe in one of the cookbooks lining our shelves. However, no one had ever pointed out to me that there was baking "soda" and baking "powder." So, of course I settled for the first thing with "baking" in the title and ended up with something quite...awful! But, that didn't stop me. (Much to my mother's chagrin, I loved to bake as much as I detested cleaning up.) What a great story and delicious sounding recipe. And I, for one, believe the cupcake is the whole package, because who wants a cupcake with no frosting? (Of course, when I think of a cake, I immediately envision frosting, too, so a "cup" cake would be the same only smaller to me.)

Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


Muneeba said...

Me thinks I need to add Martha Stewart's cupcake book to my wish list of cookbooks .. these looks great, and pretty easy!

flory said...

these look pretty fantastic. your photography's definitely getting better and better :)

on the cupcake debate - i've had the same argument with friends, and i've come up with this conclusion:

a cupcake doesn't lie in the frosting, but in the technique that's been used to make it. if it's your creaming or blending technique, this is a cupcake, because it's a cake miniaturized. a muffin is not a cupcake because that's just wet + dry, stir till just combined. never mind about frosting or not - trust me, it's in the technique!

or at least..that's my opinion. let me know what you think :D

cathy said...

i love how the colors pop! as for cupcake vs. muffin debate... i stay out of it, and instead just focus on eating, yum! :)

Florence said...

Hey, how do you get the cupcakes to be so nicely domed? Mine are always, well, flat.:/

Anonymous said...

hahah, yes I know exactly how you feel.. Thanks for the lovely tip!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not a daring baker (YET!)
I signed up on the 28th of june and I was really hoping to participate in the august challenge. I knew something was amiss when I couldn't enter the "secret fourms". When I reread the instructions part, I realized I was late in registering!
So I thought it over and decided to start participating in challenges only in Nov, after my major examinations. I'm on the blog roll, but I'm not a challenge participant):

The cookies looked really nice, so I thought it would be fun to try them out! :D

Iza said...

Nice dish! I'm getting hungrier as I type this.

Maria said...

Great stuff here. A happy holiday season to you and your readers!