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Adventures in Baking - the desire for cupcakes

currently: have cupcakes on the brain.

I've never been very domesticated in the kitchen.
When I was little, I'd often sit on the kitchen counter top and watch my mum prepare all sorts of delicious dishes. One time while watching my mum I put my hand on a hot stove plate, unaware it was on. I blame this as the reason why I dislike the kitchen and let my mother do all the cooking.

When I am forced to be in the kitchen, the food I make often turns out terribly. In the pass I've messed up instant hollandaise sauce, made horrible ice cream that only a dog was willing to eat, and the last time I made cupcakes was when I was 13 for food technology - and those cupcakes tasted like pink iced chocolate chip play-dough.

So what spurred me to make cupcakes so willingly this time? It all stems back to a love of the SPCA Cupcake Day. I loved those moist chocolatey delicious cupcakes....I'm drooling now just thinking about them.
Anyway, the thought of having to wait an entire year for these cupcakes made me sad. I craved great cupcakes - ones that didn't have come once a year, or cost me $5 in bakeries. I had no choice but to make them myself.

My mum says that's how she got into baking. She loved to eat and needed a way to get the food she wanted. And every time she baked, her skills got better. I personally doubt that, because I think skills were instilled in her from the beginning, as opposed to me - last September I stuffed up a pancake recipe.

Anyway, I knew it would take a long time to find the perfect cupcake recipe. And I'd need a lot of practice. So last weekend, I started with an easy cupcake recipe: vanilla cupcakes. I took the recipe off our kitchen calendar.

It sounded simple enough, because we all know vanilla is like the food captain of simplicity. All the recipe basically needed was for me to mix the ingredients one at a time. But remember - the last cupcakes I made smelt and tasted like play-dough, so I went slowly, carefully and thoroughly through the recipe.

Apparently though, you can be too thorough. Somewhere along mixing the butter, sugar and eggs together, the mixture started looking clumpy and not smooth batter like I had seen in all those cooking shows. According to my mum, I had curdled the butter. I wasn't even aware that one could even curdle butter, but I did. Inside I thought all hope was lost for me and my journey for cupcakes.

But I persevered, only because my mum said you could still bake the mixture. And I did, all the way to the stove, or at least the muffin trays. According to people who know how to bake, cupcakes are meant to fill two thirds of a cupcake liner. Mine were almost overfilled (call me generous.) Twenty minutes in the oven later though, and these glorious things emerged, fully cooked and not smelling of play-dough.

Hooray! Successfully cooked cupcakes.

Then of course when it came to icing, that was something else. I mixed some premade/leftover vanilla buttercream icing my mum already had in the fridge with melted chocolate, then attempted to make my own icing bag out of greaseproof paper.
Noticed how I said "attempted"? Making your own piping bag is messy. If not done correctly, icing can go everywhere and the piping will not be consistent and well-shaped. But I did my best to cover up my mistakes. Thank goodness for icing :)

And that was it. 10 cupcakes all happy and iced. And when I took one for work the next day, they tasted pretty decent too. A light but dense cake at the same time - not moist but not dry. A good first time. And one step closer to making the best cupcakes ever.

(btw - there were only 10 cupcakes iced cause I left two un-iced for my sister who is allergic to buttercream icing. They still tasted great.)

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