A tour of treats

Once I admitted in this blog that I don't bake.

My excuse, at the time, was partially steeped in the fact that I didn't own a KitchenAid mixer. It was something of a small issue I had. I might have talked about it more than once.

BUT ALL THAT HAS CHANGED NOW. People, I have a stand-up mixer and I KNOW HOW TO USE IT.

My mother got sick of my kvetching (no, we're not Jewish but I always wished I was) and got me one for my birthday, and let me tell you, it is a thing of beauty. I mean, I like it so much, it's right up there with boxes of kittens and pictures of men in chaps.

So I have taken an interest in baking. But before I could really embark on the honeymoon with my mixer, I decided I needed to do a little research. I needed to pay attention to some baked goods.

Before, I had gobbled down cupcakes and tarts and breads with abandon, not paying proper heed to their nuances, never considering really what went into making them. I wrongly presumed I'd never find it in me to start trying to replicate them, so I just left the mystery in it and treated like I treat Jon and Kate. I consumed and consumed my guilty pleasure and enjoyed it and didn't want to know the truth lest it ruin the whole thing for me.

It only sweetened the pot (har!) that I had recently given birth, thus curing myself of gestational diabetes. I had a license to eat, and I wielded it at every bakery in town. It is my good fortune that Lawrence has a slew of great bakeries at which I could do my research.

In my mind, they fall into distinct categories of their own, so they do not much overlap. Munchers, for example, is for breakfast pastries. I fully realize they do all manner of other baked goods, but I frequent them mostly for an orange glazed mini-cinnamon roll (they're small, which makes it okay to eat eight or nine) or a big cherry-filled yum yum bomb, the official name of which I do not know.

At Wheatfields, I do bread. I don't mess around with cakes or torts or any of their other beautiful confections, because I am a purist, and if I am in there, it's because I'm after a slice of kalamata olive bread or whatever daily special they've concocted for me to smear butter on or use to clean the gravy off my plate.

I read in the paper some days ago that a new bakery, The Pink Box, was opening downtown, and I wanted to be first in line, pounding on the door when it opened, but the baby wouldn't cooperate so I had to settle for spending a couple of mid-morning hours in there, sampling a smorgasbord of their finest wares. They do a nice variety of baked this-and-that, but for me, it's all about the pie. In my mind, now, it's not the downtown bakery, it's "the pie place."

Anyway, after touring bakeries, I decided that no one was really wowing me with their cupcakes, and determined that Lawrence needs a cupcake joint a la Daddy Cakes in Topeka. NO ONE STEAL MY IDEA. One day, I hope to open such a joint.

In the meantime, I have taken to making cupcakes of various size, shape, and flavor in anticipation of the day when I open my very own storefront with a retro soda fountain and rows and rows of gorgeous cupcakes, smiling down at the residents of Lawrence from their lofty bakery perches.

My favorite of my experimental cupcakes so far (THANK YOU, KITCHENAID MIXER) is the ganache-dipped variety, which ends up looking very much like the Dairy Queen dip cone. Which makes it even more appealing to me because as a kid, my mom never would let me get dip cones because they're too messy. Now, I can have my dip cupcake and eat it too.

Ganache-Dipped Yellow Butter Cake Cupcakes with Buttercream Swirls (say that ten times fast)

For the cake:
6 large egg yolks
1.5 cup milk
3 tsp good vanilla extract
3.5 C sifted cake flour
3 C granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
a healthy dash of salt
2 C unsalted butter, softened
Step 1)
Mix the eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in the bowl that goes to your KitchenAid mixer. Beat them until they're well combined and creamy. Also, now's a good time to preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Also, put the wrappers into your cupcake tin. Step 2)
In another bowl, mix all your dry ingredients. Step 3)
Alternate adding 1/2 C of milk in between cups of dry ingredients, beating on a low speed, until everything is combined. Then turn up the mixer to medium and beat for another 2-3 minutes. This will give some backbone to your mix. Step 4)
Pour into your cupcake wrappers which you have already lovingly placed in your muffin tin. I like the way the silver ones look, but whatever you got will work fine. Step 5)
Pour 2/3 C of batter into each cup. Should make about 2 dozen. Bake for 20 -25 minutes. For the frosting: I'm not going to lie and tell you I have some great secret for buttercream frosting. This is the recipe I use, and it seems just fine. Once the cupcakes are baked and cooled, you're ready to do the fun part. I used a frosting gun like this one, with a round tip, but a regular pastry bag would work, or a ziplock freezer bag with the corner cut out would also do the trick. With the frosting gun, make a small swirl of frosting, about the size of a half-dollar, on top of the cupcake, leaving a curly Q at the top, like the top of an ice cream cone. Once you've done them all, set them aside and start your ganache. For an easy ganache that works perfectly for this application, I recommend this one. It's the one I used, only I added 1/3 C of confectioner's sugar to it, just because I am a glutton. Once you have your lovely melted ganache, put it in a deep bowl. Pick up your cupcakes one by one by the bottoms and quickly dip them into the ganache, getting as close as you can to the cupcake wrapper without going over it. They'll come out perfect if they're completely cooled and the buttercream has had a minute to set up atop them. They look like patent-leather cupcakes, and are total crowd-pleasers, since that dollop of butter cream inside comes as a complete surprise to the unsuspecting eater. Not that I shared mine.


amyglester 12 years, 3 months ago

Brilliant. I'm mad I never thought of it before. But I might have to use a cake mix. Alton gave me permission.

linswri 12 years, 3 months ago

These sound delicious!

Also, congrats on the welcoming of a Kitchen-Aid into your home...I use mine just about everyday. My pants don't fit, but we are rollin' deep in baked good heaven around here. :)

Flyv002 12 years, 3 months ago

Yea for getting a KitchenAid Mixer!!! I love mine too and this is a great excuse to dig it out of the basement and use it again...see how much I love it? No really, I do. :) This recipe sounds fantastic and I can't wait to try it myself!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.