I should be packing. And organizing. And throwing out things I haven’t touched in the past four years since moving to Chicago. I shouldn’t be blogging and baking and coming up with new recipes. I shouldn’t be running to Trader Joe’s to pick up bags of ingredients. Or setting up my white boards in front of the window to wait for the light to turn just right. Read more

Match Day—done! Hallelujah and thank you for all the crossed fingers, prayers, and happy thoughts! Last Thursday night felt like Christmas Eve as a 5 year old. I was up every hour hoping Santa had already come. The fateful email finally came in a little after 7:30 am, only moments to spare before having a heart attack.

I promised you answers in the form of a sweet treat. Here she is. Nutmeg Spice Cupcake. Can you figure out where we’re going? If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know I love Warren Brown and his cake recipes. So when it came time to announce the Match Day results, I flipped open Warren’s book—United Cakes of America. Page 38. Connecticut. The nutmeg state. Read more

I had planned on doing an easter post today. But my idea flopped. Many tireless hours went into, and it flopped. Yes, I do want some cheese with this wine. I wasn’t going to tell you what I was making incase I decided to give it another try. But, I’m not. I’m no good at these things. And by “things” I mean cake balls. I’ve tried a couple times, and they’re just not my forte. I have these conflicting thoughts of “Don’t give up!” and “Just stick with what you’re good at.” Well, I’ve decided to stick with what I’m good at, leaving the cake balls to Bakerella. Don’t get me wrong, I’m up for a good challenge. And, I don’t mind if I fail from time to time. But I’ve learned I’m much better at baking than I am at decorating (case in point—cake ball fail). I’m much better at perfecting the classics (scones, cakes, cookies, macarons) than coming up with something new. I’m much better at sticking to my purist ways, than bending the rules and using the not so pure stuff. My take-away from all of this is—stick with what you’re good at, and get really good at it.

Shawoof (wiping sweat off brow). That was cathartic.

Now on to the good stuff. Red Velvet Cake! Remember the Sailboat Cupcakes from the last post? I told you I’d be back with the recipe. As promised, here it is. But first, I have to do another plug for my favorite baker—Warren Brown from Cake Love. His recipes make the best cakes ever (no lie). He is a purist as well. He believes in baking cakes from scratch. None of that artificial stuff. However, he does make a Red Velvet Cake because of it’overwhelming request at his bakery. It’s the only thing he uses food coloring in. You can leave the food coloring out and call it Brown Velvet. Or you can use the India Tree products (this is what I use), which are made from vegetables pigments.

Red Velvet Cake
recipe from Warren Brown, United Cakes of America
makes 24 cupcakes

DRY INGREDIENTS
2 1/4 c. Cake Flour (I used unbleached AP Flour)
2 tbsp. Cocoa Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking soda

WET INGREDIENTS
1 c. Buttermilk
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

CREAMING INGREDIENTS
2 sticks of Unsalted Butter (room temp)
1 1/2 c. Superfine Sugar (You can pop regular sugar in a food processor to achieve this)
2 large eggs
1 oz. Red Food Dye (Opt out and make it Brown Velvet)

1. Preheat oven to 335° and place the rack in the middle position. Line 2 cupcake pans. (Read the last post for a cupcake liner tip.)
2. Measure the dry ingredients and wet ingredients into 2 separate bowls. Whisk each to combine.
3. Measure the the butter and sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together on low speed for about 5 minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time into the well creamed butter. Beat in the dye.
5. Alternately add the dry and wet ingredients about a quarter at a time. (This should only take a minute.) Scrape sides. Beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute.
6.  Pour the batter into the liners and bake the cupcakes for 20 to 24 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
7. Cool the cupcakes for 5 minutes before inverting them on to a flat surface. Allow them to come to room temperature before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe by yours truly 

2 sticks of Unsalted Butter (room temp)
16 oz. Cream Cheese (room temp)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Dash of Sea Salt
3-4 c. Powdered Sugar

1. Cream together butter and cream cheese.
2. Add vanilla extract and salt. Mix.
3. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time. Mix well between each addition. After 3 cups, taste to see if additional powdered sugar is necessary.
4. Ice your cupcakes. Looking for tips? Check out the last post.

If you missed it, click here for the sailboat decorations. For matching invitations, click here.

P.S.—These lovely little sailboats made their debut on the very talented Shauna Younge’s blog! Thanks Shauna!

My coworkers and I threw a baby shower this week for our dear friend Kim. She and her husband Dan have a little boy on the way. No offense to all the men out there, but boy baby showers are a lot harder to plan than little girl showers where all you need are different shades of pink, some polka dots, cute girly baby outfits, eww’s & aww’s, cupcakes, and you’re set.Mary, my coworker, came up with the theme for the shower— The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and it turned out excellent! Cupcakes still made their appearance at the shower, there were  plenty of cute little boy outfits, and an abundance of eww’s & aww’s!

The idea for the cupcakes came from Coco Cake. It is a lot easier than it looks. In order to create this, make cupcakes (we had 48 total). It has become a staple in my kitchen to use Cake Love‘s recipes for the chocolate cupcakes (LaTonya, another coworker, brought in the vanilla cupcakes). To decorate the cupcakes, I use the Wilton Dessert Decorator Pro—it makes icing cupcakes super easy. Drop different shades of green in the dispenser to add some variation in color as you ice. I made a cream cheese buttercream (cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, a dash of salt, and food coloring). After icing, use brown long sprinkles along the outer edge of the cupcakes for his hair. Now, onto the head. It does get a little trickier here. You can buy fondant and color it. Or, you can make it. Can you guess what I did? I had to try it myself, of course, allowing a little too much room for disaster to occur the night before the shower. Thankfully, it worked. To make the fondant, get a jar of marshmallow fluff (7-8 oz.) and add lots and lots, I mean lots, of powdered sugar. The recipe I used called for 2 cups of powdered sugar, but that had to be a lie. I used at least double. You need to get all the sticky out of the fluff so that you can roll it out smoothly without it sticking to your surface.After you have a good consistency, add in your food coloring. When rolling the fondant out, don’t be afraid to dowse your surface with powdered sugar. You can brush it off afterward, or, if you let it sit overnight, it will soak in. Decorate your head as you please, and voila, you now have a Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake!

Photos taken by Craig Taylor, a coworker of mine.

 
 
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