At last, I have finally made my ‘personal best’ cupcake. I’ve been trying for months to make a decent one; it seems like everyone else in the world can, except for me. So, for the last several months, cupcakes have been on the back burner, so to speak, while I’ve participated in other challenges.
But July was different. Clara and Nikki, the July hostesses for Cupcake Hero, announced a theme of Red, White, and Blue. For some reason, it felt like the right time to try again. I played with ideas for a week or so, then one night everything fell in to place.
First, there was the cupcake itself. I hadn’t found quite the right recipe yet, but thanks to Mary, I had inspiration. There, in the Small-Batch Baking cookbook was a recipe for a simple cupcake. It only made four, so if I blew it, I wouldn’t be stuck with dozens, and, of course, my growing waistline doesn’t need extra encouragement. So, step one was complete.
Second, I really wanted to make that gooey meringue-type frosting, and as if the cake recipe was reading my mind, it called for only one egg yolk. That left a lonely egg white. Looking in Dorie’s cookbook, I found the frosting recipe, and by quartering it, I only needed one egg white and I calculated it would be more than enough to frost four cupcakes. Step two was complete.
Now, for the color combination. White cake? Already done. Red cake? Already done. Blue cake? Why not? I just happened to have red chips (cherry flavor), so with a blue cake, red chips, and white gooey frosting, I finalized my plan. Hopefully, the execution would work.
Amazingly, it all came together. When the cupcakes were finished, I couldn’t believe I had actually made a decent-looking and tasting cupcake. My daughter said they actually tasted like the Fourth of July, and I had to agree. That hint of cherry flavor, a successful cake recipe, and the gooey top made the difference.
So, after several months hiatus, I am, once again, submitting a cupcake to Cupcake Hero. I’m looking forward to seeing all the red, white, and blue combinations from all the creative and talented bakers. Thanks to Clara and Nikki for choosing a fun theme, and to Laurie for creating this delicious event.
(adapted from Small-Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
¼ cup buttermilk
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg yolk, at room temperature (large egg)
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 standard muffin pan
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour 4 of the muffin cups, or use paper liners.
Combine the buttermilk and baking soda in a measuring cup; stir to mix. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and gently mix.
Put flour, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Add the butter and half of the buttermilk mixture. Beat with a hand-held mixer on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the remaining buttermilk mixture and beat on medium speed until well blended.
At this point you can add coloring or fold in chips or nuts.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly. Fill any empty cups half-way with water. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one cupcake comes out clean.
Remove from oven and place on wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes from the pan, place them on the wire rack and let them cool completely.
Frost and decorate as desired.
Makes 4 cupcakes.