Monday, August 31, 2009

Guest Post: Cupcakes Get Classy

As you may know, I was off gallivanting last week on a little rock climbing excursion down Santa Cruz way. In my absence, my good friend and Fare to Remember cookbook co-author, Carolyn Hindes, took up the slack and agreed to write this guest post about a cupcake class she was attending. (I miss all the good stuff!) At any rate, enjoy - and let's hope I can get her back for seconds!

By Carolyn Hindes

While Morry was off climbing rocks on the California coast, I thought I would regale you with the tale of a cupcake making class I attended at TeaCake Bake Shop in Lafayette, CA. The evening was filled with the smell of warm cake in the air, the sound of blenders whirling, and of course BIG blocks of butter. Heaven. This hands-on class had us making a chocolate sour cream cupcake and a vanilla cupcake recipe. Sarah and Ann, the two delightful TeaCake staff assigned to teach us all things cupcake, were informative, patient and fun.

We discussed technical elements (butter and large eggs should be room temperature) and that patience is a virtue: if you let the butter and sugar cream together for about five minutes, it goes from being a blended blob at the bottom of the mixing bowl to a cloud-like confection hugging the bowl almost up to the rim. Scraping down the bowl was another lesson learned. I tend to do one half-hearted mix at the very end once all the ingredients are combined. Nope. Turns out it should be done several times throughout the process. The result the TeaCake way: vanilla batter that was a beautiful, glossy, ribbon masterpiece.

Filling the cupcake tins is also a science of sorts. TeaCake uses an ice cream scoop (size 30 – green handle if I recall correctly). Volume of batter, air pockets... there is a method to the madness. We did fairly well, but there were definitely some size differences. When Sarah pulled them out of the oven, size be damned, the vanilla cupcakes looked golden and puffy while the chocolate ones were slightly cracked (and therefore calling out to us to forget the frosting and dive right in!).

While our cupcakes were cooking and cooling we made a batch of vanilla butter cream frosting and a batch of cream cheese frosting. Sarah explained the thoughts behind the piping bag, the types of piping tips, and how to fill the bags without getting the contents all over us or the kitchen. Then each of us stepped up to two naked chocolate cupcakes to give it a go with the new information we had been given. Darn if we all didn’t do a good job at it! After playing with some fondant and cut outs we were each presented with 15 naked cupcakes (6 Vanilla, 6 Chocolate, and 3 Pink Velvet) as a canvas for us to be frosting Michelangelos. We also had an assortment of frostings in which to create our masterpieces.

Three hours after the adventure began, we left TeaCake laden down with our works of cupcake art, excited by the experience, relieved we hadn’t ruined the equipment, and proud of our accomplishments. Friends and family beware, there are many cupcakes in your future!

No comments:

Post a Comment