becoming a minimalist baker part 2
What a lovely day it was. Well, minus the suicide inducing public transportation system that is Miami's metro, it was a relaxing day of shopping and learning. First stop was Barnes and Noble, yes, againnnnn. This time with money my friends (no bargain bin today dolls), and boy did I practically run home to cuddle up in bed with my FIRST EVER COOKBOOK! Can you guess which charming girl I whisked away to my abode? Nigella Lawson of course! Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook was staring at me with puppy eyes, but it was $5 more, and I'm on borrowed wealth. Plus, when free money comes along, you don't exactly buy in singles. Nigella needed a companion for the long ride home, so Molly and Sophie hopped in the bag too. Surely that was a tea party for the ages.
Then it was off to Whole Foods where, as promised, I dished a few good bucks on my first bottle of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, Organic Agave Nectar, Premium Sea Salt along with a delightful jumbling of other baking goods. Sure does beat McCormick's and CVS brands! Oh, and did I mention...I finally found this infamous European style butter! I wish I would have tasted the ingredients before my bake test below, which was silly of me, but I promise to taste them next batch to better describe the differences in product, not just results. For one, European style butter seams allot lighter, which I don't know yet is better or worse.
So today's baking test as mentioned here (where I am still looking forward to your comments about which bakery/baker you think has the best recipe!) made use of Amy’s Bread “Pink Cake,” a moist vanilla-flavored butter cake which was actually inspired by a recipe from Carole Walter, in her book Great Cakes (see, every famous baker uses another famous baker's secrets). The delicate flavor and texture of this cake is a perfect match for a heavy, intensely sweet frosting such as a classic confectioner’s sugar buttercream. And let me tell you, having eaten at Amy's (I used to work there!!) and making her recipe, this is indeed insanely sweet. But I love it that way. In the book, Amy mentioned you could save your teeth the cavity pain by trying the cupcakes plain with sliced fresh strawberries or peaches for a sublime summer dessert.
Yellow Cupcakes with Pink Buttercream Frosting
via The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread
- Unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted 3 cups or 420g
- Baking powder 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon or 20g
- Kosher salt 3/4 teaspoon
- Milk 1 1/4 cups + 3 tablespoons or 340g
- Vanilla extract 2 teaspoons
- Unsalted butter, slightly softened 1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons or 320g
- Sugar 2 3/4 cups + 2 teaspoons or 560g
- Eggs 5 large or 260g
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease the cake pans. Line the bottoms with rounds of baking parchment then dust them lightly with fl our. Shake out the excess. Or use Baker’s Joy baking spray that contains both oil and flour, so you don’t have to flour the pan. With Baker’s Joy, put the parchment liner in after you spray the pan.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk them gently for even distribution. In a separate bowl combine the milk and vanilla.
- Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until it is light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs gradually, mixing well after each addition, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl often.
- Lower the mixing speed to medium-low and add the flour mixture to the butter in 3 parts, alternating with 2 parts of the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until it is evenly incorporated. This is a thick, fluffy batter, resembling whipped cream. There should not be any lumps or dry pockets of flour remaining. If the batter has a curdled appearance it has not been mixed enough. Increase the speed to medium and mix for another minute or until it is thick and fluffy.
- Divide the batter equally among baking cups. Place the pans on the center rack in the preheated oven. Bake them for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cake is almost ready to pull away from the side of the baking cups and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Be sure to rotate for even baking.
- Cool the pans on a rack for 10 minutes. I recommend an hour. Frost!
- Confectioner's sugar 7 1/2 cups or 845g
- Butter 1 1/3 cups or 300g
- Poured fondant 1/3 generous cup or 138g
- Milk 1/4 cup or 62g
- Vanilla extract 1 tablespoon+1/4 teaspoon or 13g
- Salt 1/8 teaspoon
- Baker's Rose Food Coloring 1-2 drops
In a bowl, beat 600g or 5 1/2 cups of sugar, as well as the butter, fondant, milk, vanilla and salt until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Start on low speed then increase to medium speed when powdery texture becomes moistened. Gradually add remaining sugar 1 cup at a time. Add color and beat on med-low speed until mixed and still fluffy.
As with my many previous trials, I know that cupcakes taste drastically different the next day for some reason. But let me just say, this is a great cupcake! The crumb is tender and delicate, perfectly moist (not too much so, but not at all dry) and the buttercream, although my consistency still sucks (any tips for this...besides prepping the butter??) was a tad too sweet and tasted nothing like at Amy's, then again I couldn't find poured fondant. I tried melting rolled fondant but that only melted my butter, so don't try that. Its not exactly like Amy's cupcakes and I followed everything correctly, even had gourmet ingredients, though I lacked a kitchen scale and stand mixer...so alas, a baking test semi-complete.