one baker's humble attempt to change the world one cupcake at a time

Archive for July, 2011

MOVING MADNESS!

So from here on out, I will be posting with another blogging site at my very own DOT COM website: heyyyy www.youngidealisticbaker.com!!!

Please check it out! I’ve just posted a new (AWESOME) brownie recipe and have another post in the making to be up before the end of the week. You don’t want to miss them!

Thanks for reading, following, commenting, and in general for all of your interest. The baking continues at www.youngidealisticbaker.com and will only get more fun from here.

I can’t wait, and I hope you enjoy reading and maybe even duplicating recipes as much as I have been.

Love,

the Young Idealistic Baker (dot com)

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Update

So, I haven’t baked anything new yet. I’m grocery shopping in an hour and baking ASAP.

A few updates though, so you’re not left wondering.

The website address will change — permanently — to youngidealisticbaker.com. I’m also going to be using a different hosting site so I doubt that typing in youngidealisticbaker.wordpress.com will automatically forward, but I will keep this site up with a link to the new site.

As far as new baking posts go, never fear! I have an idea for a slew of farmer’s market inspired dishes…Guess where I was this morning?

So, thanks for your patience and I will post a LINK to the blog site here as soon as I post my next recipe. The other site is already updated with all of the previous ones and can currently be found at yougidealisticbaker.blogspot.com and I will set it up to stand on its own (youngidealisticbaker.com) as soon as the next post is published.

In the meantime, please check it out and let me know what you think. (content, look, etc) This new blog is desperate for some comments and  loving from readers!

Home Photography with a side of Baking

In addition to a better-equipped kitchen, baking at home offers another advantage to baking at school: the use of my dad’s digital SLR camera. While I love my pocket-sized camera, the SLR just does better with food. Using it, I get consistently clearer close-ups and better depth.

Before I went home last weekend, I asked my sister to make her recipe requests since we agreed to bake together. All she wanted was to replicate the Banana Oreo Muffins I posted a couple of weeks ago. Even though I wanted to try a new recipe using ingredients or baking ware that I don’t have easy (or free) access to at school, I decided to comply with my sister’s wish and asked my mom to buy bananas in advance so we’d have some nice mushy ones to work with. (For the full recipe, click the link.)

In between wedding festivities, my sister and I baked up a batch of muffins using the extremely ripe but never frozen bananas. As she obligingly mixed up the batter, I sliced up an extra banana to top the muffins. We also played with Oreo location again, splitting half of six Oreos into two pieces (one with cream and one without) and placing the cream topped half on the bottom and the other in the middle.

For the other six muffins, we placed full Oreos smack dab in the middle — I think these ones looked the best overall!

After the wedding festivities came to an end with brunch, I had time to play with dad’s camera and all of the props I could find in the house from my mom’s funky place settings to flowers brought home from the wedding Sunday night.

After a good 20 minutes of taking pictures of the muffins, I snapped a few of the cookie and M&M wedding party favors alongside the Florida Gators paraphernalia that my house has filled up with since my sister officially enrolled.

I always do my best to ensure my alma mater is well represented though — the introduction of Florida just adds a new element to the otherwise Big Ten dominated family rivalry (Michigan, Pennstate, and Wisconsin) that has been in effect since my first day as a Michigan Wolverine!

Back to the point. The bride and groom were both Gators and met while in school. Their school pride was well represented at the Rehearsal dinner in the form of party favors and again at the wedding in the form of a football helmet shaped cake.

Red Velvet!

The happy couple at their wedding

P.S. My blog moved! go to www.youngidealisticbaker.com to see my new yummy recipes!

Bon Appetite Dude!

This post is totally family inspired. Here it is broken down:

For a Fourth of July party, my dad made a watermelon salad (watermelon, red onion, mint, and lime juice) and I helped by preparing the watermelon and stashing a cup full aside for personal use. I also reserved a cup of the juice.

While my cupcakes were cooling, I searched the house for some kind of watermelon décor to use for a photograph. All I found was a hand-painted t-shirt in my sister’s closet.

My mom came home and found a watermelon plate that my sister had decorated when she was young. This plate became a prop and the basis for this post’s title. My mom also helped by holding the t-shirt up as I interrupted her dinner to take pictures.

So everyone in my family had a hand in this post, and with this particular post, I needed all the help I could get. Who would have guessed that making naturally watermelon flavored cupcakes would be so difficult? I guessed it actually, but not until after hours of research online.

A simple search for “watermelon cupcakes” provided dozens of beautiful cakes and cupcakes decorated to look like watermelons, but most of the recipes on these sites was for basic white or yellow cupcakes colored with food coloring. So, I turned to my favorite cupcake blogger who never fails to combine the craziest flavors to make deliciously weird sounding cupcakes. The peach tea cupcakes were her creation, but so are these avocado lime cupcakes and olive oil cupcakes with balsamic vinegar frosting. Both of these are on my to-do list!

But lo and behold, even Steph of cupcakeproject.com hadn’t come up with a successful watermelon cupcake. She has two posts that are titled attempt 1 and attempt 2, with a promise of a third attempt to come. A little disappointed, but not altogether discouraged, I studied her recipes and notes carefully, read through all the suggestions from her readers, and continued planning my cupcakes.

I started with a very simple white cake recipe (named accordingly) from allrecipes.com and began adapting.

Homemade watermelon plate - before we found my sister's

I ended with this strawberry watermelon cupcake recipe. The strawberries were a last minute addition because I was afraid that if the watermelon flavor didn’t show up, plain white cupcakes would be too boring and I wanted something to fall back on. A second motivating factor for adding the strawberries was the fact that they were beginning to get really old and I can’t even begin to express how frustrated I have been getting with prematurely molding fruit.

As my cupcakes baked, I pondered topping possibilities. I thought that watermelon buttercream frosting might have overpowered the cupcakes whereas a simple dusting of powdered sugar might not have been enough. I looked up glazes and simple syrups (because I wasn’t confident that I knew the difference between the two) and decided to start with a watermelon simple syrup and turn it into a glaze.

In case you were wondering, a simple syrup has a sugar to water ratio of about 1 to 1, while a glaze has a sugar to water ratio of about 1 cup to 1 tablespoon.

I made the simple syrup over the stove, let it cool, and then brushed the cupcakes with it before I made the glaze. I figured it couldn’t hurt to add more watermelon flavor and moisture to the cupcakes.

Despite my best efforts to infuse cupcakes with watermelon, flavor-wise the cupcakes were still lacking. The texture was great and overall, the cupcakes were moist and delicious, but they just weren’t watermelon-y enough.

The cupcake batter had plenty of watermelon pieces in it and the syrup was strongly flavored, so I’m not exactly sure how the flavor disappears in the cupcakes. I think the sugar eats it. Still, these cupcakes are delicious and refreshing, so they’ve earned their 10 seconds of fame amongst my small, but wonderful audience. I also wanted to share the pictures!

Strawberry Watermelon Cupcakes: (makes 12)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup finely sliced strawberries
  • ¾ cups finely sliced watermelon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with liners
  • Cream butter and sugars
  • Add eggs, one at a time
  • Add vanilla
  • Sift dry ingredients together
  • Add dry ingredients and milk to batter and blend well
  • Mix in sliced watermelon and strawberries
  • Evenly distribute batter and bake for 20-22 minutes, until the center no longer looks juicy (these cupcakes will continue to feel juicy after cooled — a testament to their moisture-packed innards)

Mint-infused Watermelon Syrup Recipe: (Adapted from marthastewart.com)

  • ¾ cup watermelon juice (or a cup if you have it — I didn’t)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 bunch of mint

Directions:

  • Heat 5 minutes on low-heat
  • Let sit 5 more minutes
  • Pour through a strainer to remove mint leaves
  • Bring to room temperature or refrigerate for further use
  • The directions say that this can be refrigerated indefinitely. Hello, Mojito!

I actually did make mojitos with this syrup. Use it to substitute mint and sugar and you’re in business!

Watermelon Mint Glaze

Mix about 1 ½ cups powdered sugar with about 5 tablespoons of your mint-infused watermelon syrup. Start with about a cup of powered sugar and 3 tablespoons of syrup, adding the rest slowly and stopping when you’re happy with the consistency. It should be pretty thick but also runny enough to drip over cupcakes. Be aware, this process will be messy and sticky unless you’re more coordinated than I am.

Watermelon Mojito Recipe (makes one)

  • 1 oz or less watermelon mint syrup (any more and it will be too sweet)
  • 1 -2 oz clear rum (depending on how strong you like you’re drinks)
  • 3 oz soda water
  • 1 squeeze of lime (as much as you like)
  • serve over ice and garnish with fresh mint leaves if you’d like

Drink responsibly!

P.S. My blog moved! For more yummy recipes go to www.youngidealisticbaker.com!

Fourth of July Fireworks Cake

Groovy Tie-Dyed Fireworks Cake

I have to be honest here. I did not make this cake for the Fourth of July. I didn’t make anything in fact, despite high hopes (and drooling at the thought) of red velvet AND lemon ricotta pancakes alternating in a stack, topped with blueberries and whipped cream. Oh well, maybe next year.

The reason I was never able to make these fantasy pancakes was not due to laziness, but do a far more important post-wedding brunch I attended this morning. The wedding festivities actually kept me busy for most of the weekend, but I was able to bake and photograph one batch of treats — more on that later.

The cake featured here was made for my sisters’ and my graduation party way back when, to accompany those delicious peanut butter button cookies that disappeared all too soon. I found the original “groovy cake” on cuteeverything.com, and did my best to replicate the look.

Almost every component of this cake came from a box, can, or tube, making it incredibly easy.

Step One: Make a batch of white cake batter (I used a box)

Step Two: Separate about half of the batter into four small bowls and add food coloring until you have vibrantly colored batter

Step Three: Spoon batter into a greased cake pan, alternating colors and using the white batter as a base until all of the batter is transferred to the pan and you have a fun and splotchy mess of a cake

Step Four: Bake cake according to your recipe’s directions

Step Five: Allow cake to cool COMPLETELY

Step Six: Frost the cake with white frosting (I used frosting from a can)

Step Seven: Using gel coloring pens (or something similar), draw hexagons in groups of three or four (to create a spider web effect) in alternating colors randomly across the cake

Step Eight: Draw a toothpick through the colors to create the firework effect

Step Nine: Add skittles around the base of the cake, to the centers of each firework and randomly around the cake however you see fit

Step 10: Serve, and smile politely as people “ooh” and “ah” over the surprise tie-dyed interior

Before I could even snap a picture, my sneaky friend crept up behind me and stole a bite. Some people!

Happy Independence Day!!

P.S. My blog has moved! For more yummy recipes, go to www.youngidealisticbaker.com!