Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Strawberries n' Cream Scones

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I woke up and decided to make strawberry scones. Usually my sister gives me ideas on what to bake. She saw a picture of animal cupcakes on Facebook which prompted me to make these earlier this week. To make the scones even more special, I added milk crumbs and opted for the all out usage of heavy cream instead of half and half or buttermilk. SO much cream. I do admit the dough was silky smooth because of it though.

These are amazing. They're tender, chock full of strawberries, and that crunchy milky bite from the milk crumbs ties all the flavors together. Sure there were a ton of dishes to clean, a few extra steps for the milk crumbs, but rest assure they are worth every tasty morsel. The scone recipe itself is actually quite simple.
Mmmm... milk crumbs
I promised my older sister I would make her mandu (Korean dumplings) this week, so I will hop right on that later today. That means I can use my nifty dumpling press I got from the Asian supermarket! It's so exciting to whip that contraption out. Perhaps I'll make a post about those dumplings, but they're not necessarily baked goods.
You can find the milk crumb recipe here. You may not need use all of the milk crumbs the recipe yields, but cutting the recipe down may result in some funky measurements.
...? Wart? 
If your strawberries are extra juicy, dice them up and spread them out on paper towel to soak up the moisture. They will be difficult to incorporate into the dough if they're too wet. Enjoy!
Strawberries n' Cream Scones
Yields 8 scones
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup milk crumbs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  1. Dump the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until all the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
  2. Add in the cold butter and pulse for about 30 seconds until combined. 
  3. Dump the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Mix in by hand the strawberries and milk crumbs. Slowly add in the cream until a dough ball forms.
  4. Place dough onto a light floured surface and form into a rectangle so that you can cut out 8 wedges. 
  5. Place onto an ungreased baking sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cute Critter Cupcakes

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Spring is officially here! It's been inexplicably warm lately. Scratch that, sweltering. Both Thursday and Friday emulated the heat of summer. Imagine two straight hours of class at high noon sitting under the beating sun... in jeans! Sweat fest much. Where are the drizzles of rain, the light breezes, the crisp air?
The panda freaks me out a bit... My mom though it was cute though!
On the bright side it is Spring break, which means plenty of time to relax, study a bit, and catch up with old friends. Of course I'm going to bake like a maniac. I'm thinking strawberries and cream scones tomorrow morning. Peaches and cream? We'll just see what flavor I am craving when I wake up.
This is NOT the cupcake recipe below, but the first recipe I tried had an interesting method of crumbling butter into the flour to make a sandy mixture. Unfortunately these cupcakes collapsed:(
I am obsessed with the Draw Something app for the iPod touch/iPhone. It is the new Words with Friends and it has swept the nation it seems. I think what makes it so entertaining is the fact that you can watch the process of the person drawing the word. My sister had to draw the word "pregnant". At first it looked like an alien parasite in someone's belly, and then it looked like a spider hugging a person. That sense of satisfaction when the epiphany strikes you makes the game worth while. It's worth it even if you get stuck staring at the screen, rotating the iPod because you think if you look at it from another angle the amoeba looking doodle will start to resemble something. HAHA. 
These cupcakes took forever. Surprisingly not as long as the cupcakes from my cupcake wars battle earlier this month. I bought gel food coloring and that made the colors very vivid without altering the texture of the buttercream one bit. Using fondant or modeling chocolate probably would have been the easier route to make the facial features, but unfortunately I had neither on hand. I just stood in the kitchen for two hours smoothing out the buttercream. It was well worth it. The little chuckle my dad gives me as he walks by my baking projects is the seal of approval of mission adorable/cute accomplished.
Pretty pink tissue paper flower I made
Try out the recipe below! The little chickadee would be perfect for Easter, the puppy for a birthday party, and well the panda is just random quite honestly. The cupcakes were absolutely delicious. One of the best yellow cake recipes I've made. Use any vanilla buttercream you desire, but I do recommend using one that does NOT crust, unless you are a lightning fast froster/decorator. The ears are simply sliced marshmallow pieces frosted in the buttercream. Enjoy!
Classic Yellow Cake
From The Smitten Kitchen
Yields 12 cupcakes
  • 240 grams cake flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 200 grams sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
  2. On medium speed of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the buttermilk and vanilla. It will look very curdled at this point.
  3. Add in the eggs one at a time. 
  4. Mix in the flour on low speed in three parts. Be careful not to over mix. Spoon into cupcake liners until 3/4 of the way full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Fever Birthday

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The layers in this cake are the best looking ones I have ever made. So crisp!
I have yet to bake anything truly decadent. Something so sweet that it makes you feel guilty just looking at it. Chocolate and vanilla seemed like a fitting combination that would satisfy my craving for pastries. This can also serve as my one year anniversary celebration cake for Rummy Tum-Tum, though I am about one month late on that. How could I have possibly skimmed over such an important landmark!? Next year I'll be prepared to throw some confetti and blow up some balloons on the right day. The epiphany struck me as I was making the batter, so I took the initiative to decorate it. I also have terrible spring fever, so I went bold with the colors! Vibrant red was just calling me. I want to see the flowers bloom and warm weather to bathe in! Winter wasn't at all harsh this year, but I am antsy for the change of the seasons.
I initially wanted to have 8 layers in this cake, but there were so many crumbs after leveling the cakes off that I had enough of it. I despise crumbs. They're so pesky to wipe off the counter, and the world simply ends when they mix into the buttercream!
Surprisingly, this cake had me tied up in the kitchen for less time than the cupcakes last week. Check those out here! Basic cake and buttercream, with a little love and attention, can be transformed and molded into a slightly extravagant dessert. You literally dump all the cake components into a bowl, mix, and bake. Simple as that. 
The school club I'm in is very big on helping the community, so we handed out sandwiches to hobos near the school during this week's meeting. It's amazing how appreciative they were to receive organic, all-natural, whole grain peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It seems as if everyone at school and the city are health nuts. There is a health food store on every block it seems. We not only gave the homeless people food, we gave them a nutritious and heart healthy supplement to their day. I also still can't believe I only have 3 months of school left. This year went by so fast! High school memories will soon be replaced with the experiences of college. Hurray!
I wish I could have blown out the candles on a cake like this when I was younger. So much nicer than those scary barbie cakes from Wal-mart. They're terrifying. Why kind of baker contrived this idea? Why kind of kid begs their mommy for a piece of cake with a plastic doll shoved into it? It's almost as creepy as those people who order custom cakes sculpted in the shape of their dogs. When you eat it, you have to cut into it, so essentially you're carving your dog up and consuming it with a sheepish grin because the cake tastes good. Or cakes that have family pictures printed on them. That's disturbing too. Imagine a little kid saying, "Look mommy, I'm eating Aunt Suzy's eye!" I shall not judge though. Eat whatever shape, size, or type of cake that floats your boat, but please just eat cake that tastes good! Enjoy!

Decorating Tutorial
  • You'll want to fill and dirty ice your cake. Then go back with another layer of buttercream to create a smooth surface.
  • Dye the remaining buttercream any color that your please, and then transfer to a piping bag with a round tip.

  • Starting from the edge, pipe dollops equal in size. Then take an off set spatula or a spoon, and with a sweeping motion, smooth the mounds of frosting. 
  • Continue piping concentric circles of frosting and repeating the process above until you reach the center. 
Rich Chocolate Cake
From Sweetapolita
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong black coffee (can be hot)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  1. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients.
  2. Add all remaning ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and with paddle attachment on mixer, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. It will be liquidy.
  3. Pour batter in pans lined with parchment paper and bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Easy Vanilla Buttercream

From Magnolia Bakery
  • 4.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the flour and milk until smooth. Over medium heat, and whacking constantly, cook until the mixture becomes thick and begins to bubble. Cover surface with wax paper and allow to cool to room temperature. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth and creamy on medium high speed. Gradually add the sugar, and beat until fluffy. Add in the vanilla and beat well.
  3. Add in the milk mixture and continue to beat on medium high speed until smooth and whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Use immediately. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pseudo Cupcake Wars

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As a food fanatic, I love to watch Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. The fear of the cupcakes baking and cooling before that dreaded timer ticks down to zero gets my adrenaline going. Will she swirl on the frosting in time? Will she sprinkle on the garnish before time is out? Will that third cupcake make it onto the plate? There is as much action on that show as there is on a football game. Okay, I am pushing it, but Cupcake Wars is one entertaining creation of cable t.v.
This "episode" of Cupcake Wars entails the following:

The theme: cupcakes mom and dad would like to eat (LOL, that was my sister's genius right there)
The competitor: my sister (Hi buddy!)
The prize: grounds for gloating and tasty cupcakes to consume (You're going to be annihilated.)
I do have one griping complaint about the show. No I lie, two. First off, I despise how they are so concerned about the extremity of elaborate decorations. I would rather have mouth watering, tasty, and scrumptious cupcakes than glammed out pastries that taste mediocre at best. If cupcakes were baked to be admired and not eaten, let's just make cake batters out of sand and dirt. Second, I get enraged when that one French judge criticizes contestants who make red velvet cupcakes because he has a deep-rooted grudge against red velvet. Let's not completely eliminate a contestant because they made a southern classic.
The region I reside in is known for its wacky weather. This is exemplified by this afternoon's walk to my car after school. I only have to walk two blocks. In those two blocks, those 3 minutes, I encountered a plethora of climates. The sunshine was beating down as I exited the school. Crossing the street the sky suddenly darkened. Seconds later I was walking against a sudden gust of wind and snow. By the time I reached my car, the sun emerged again from the... blizzard? Snowstorm? Mother nature's temper tantrum? I am still in dismay. 

I've been catching up on watching the Big Bang Theory, and I simply have died and then been resurrected by the humor that is Sheldon Cooper. My favorite moments are when he is in the ball-pit trying to make carbon molecules by meticulously sorting the "carbon atoms" and then Leonard who catches him in the act, has to jump in to take him out. Sheldon then plays catch me if you can, popping up to the surface sporadically shouting, "Bazinga!" Or when Sheldon thinks his appendix is about to burst, and he wakes Leonard up in the middle of the night panicking and moaning hilariously. Turns out he just needed to fart! 

Now I present to you my cupcakes for the Cupcake Wars. If I were on the show, my decorations, or lack there of, have already rendered me a failure. They taste good and that's all that matters. You can go far with one massive batch of buttercream and two batters. I need to start handing out these cupcakes to my friends and neighbors before I start spiraling into a sugar coma. I only posted the buttercream variations because you can use any chocolate or vanilla cake recipe you want. Enjoy!
A vanilla buttermilk cupcake speckled with blueberries, lemon blueberry swiss meringue buttercream, topped with a fresh blueberry
A vanilla buttermilk cupcake with mango bits, peach swiss meringue buttercream, topped with a sort of random sprig of mint and a sliver of dried mango 
A chocolate buttermilk cupcake, coffee swiss meringue buttercream, drizzled with ganache
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yields 3-4 cups
  • 113 grams egg whites
  • 200 grams sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
  1. In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt. Place over a pot of simmering water to create a double boiler. Whisk continuously until the mixture reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Take of the heat, and using a mixer on medium high speed, beat until stiff peaks have formed and the bowl is cool to the touch. 
  3. Add in the butter several cubes at a time until it is all incorporated. If curdled, just keep beating and a smooth, glossy buttercream will form. Divide the batch into thirds to proceed with the variations below.
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Dissolve the coffee in the water. Beat into the buttercream. 
Lemon Blueberry 
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, cook over medium heat until the berries burst and a syrup has formed. Strain through a sieve and allow to cool.
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Beat in all the ingredients plus the puree into the buttercream. 
  • 3 tablespoons peach jam
  • Beat in the ingredients into the buttercream. 
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