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Category: baking

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

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I made these cupcakes last year for a company thanksgiving pot-luck at work, and it’s a great single-serving ode to the classic sweet potato casserole.  While a bit denser than my typical cupcake, they were a big hit among my coworkers.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Sweet Potato Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 60 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Ingredients
For Cupcake
Servings: cupcakes
Instructions
For Cupcake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake pans with liners.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the sweet potato. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, followed by the whole eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Beat in the flour mixture one third at a time, mixing alternately with a third of the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake pans.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick or baking probe comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling racks. Let cool completely before frosting.
For Frosting
  1. Cream butter and shortening in an electric mixer with whipping attachments.
  2. Mix in vanilla, brown sugar and honey.
  3. Stop mixer, add confectioners' sugar, and slowly combine with other ingredients. Increase speed once fully incorporated.
  4. Slowly add heavy whipping cream and incorporate at high speeds. Continue beating until frosting is light and fluffy.
Recipe Notes

To evenly and cleanly fill the cupcake pans, I use a triggered ice cream scoop.  It makes the process much easier.

I also topped these with half a jumbo marshmallow (cut with kitchen shears) to complete the "sweet potato casserole" feel to these cupcakes.

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Baking Roundup

So, this started out as a short post until I realized how behind I was.  I wanted to clean out the bin of baking that has been accumulating on me.  It’s amazing how quick they build up!

Raspberry Citrus Cupcakes

These were cupcakes I had made in the past for my sister’s bridal shower, but while I was on a business trip, I had some friends request that I make them at their house.

Making Frosting By Hand

However, there was a bit of a problem when their mixer broke (aka “fizzled out with the awful stench of motor burnout”).

So, since everything else was ready to go, I got to do it all by hand!

However, everything else at least went smoothly as I made the citrus cupcake base, filled them with a dollop of raspberry preserves and topped them with a buttercream frosting made with fresh raspberries.

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The end result still turned out pretty darn good, and my friends loved them and appreciated the extra effort.

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Spider-man Day Cupcakes

My son’s school had a special Spider-man Day and asked me to make some cupcakes, so I decided to hit up the food coloring on basic yellow cake.

Spiderman Cupcake Bases Spiderman Cupcakes

My Aunt’s 60th Birthday Cake

Over the summer, my aunt had her 60th birthday, and we usually have a family picnic a few weeks beforehand, so we surprised her with a personalized cake:

Bowling Cakes

The bowling ball is a dense chocolate cake with a strawberry preserve filling, and the pins are a lemon cake with lemon curd filling.

For reference, the pins were done using a vintage Donald Duck cake pan:

Donald Duck Cake Pan

Bridal Shower Cupcakes

For one of my wife’s friends, I was asked to make some bridal shower cupcakes.  She requested my buckeye cupcakes (which are becoming quite famous in these parts, consisting of a chocolate cake, peanut butter frosting filling, chocolate ganache, and a dollop of peanut butter frosting), but I made her a deal that I’d make one more type of my choosing as well.

Bridal Shower Cupcakes

 

So on the right is the buckeye cupcake, and on the left is my creation: a cherry cupcake with honey lavender frosting.  Both got positive reviews, but the lavender one was a bit on the strong side and I’d probably tone it back next time.  However, that was my first foray into using it, so it was a trial.

Ninja Turtle Birthday Cake

So, for my son’s third birthday, he asked me for a Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle cake.  Unfortunately, the new iteration of the show has yet to produce any such pans, and all of the older ones are going on eBay for around $50.  So I got creative and decided to freehand a picture on top of a cake made with an old astronaut pan.

Me in the process of frosting Raphael In Cake

 

Not perfect, but I was still very happy with how it turned out and my youngest son nearly leaped with excitement when he saw it.

Christmas Donuts

For Christmas morning, we decided to make donuts from scratch.  I prepared the dough the night before, let it rise in the fridge overnight, and let it warm back up and proof in the morning.

Christmas Donuts

The donuts were great when warm, but a little on the dense side.  Next time, I’ll make sure to give them more time to warm back up before trying to do anything with the dough.

Strawberry Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes

For my oldest son’s birthday, we sent cupcakes into school with him and I let him choose what he wanted.  He settled on a strawberry cupcake with chocolate frosting, and then helped to finish decorating them.

Strawberry Chocolate Cupcakes

Monster Truck Birthday Cake

Lastly, one more birthday cake, again for my oldest son, because he got cupcakes at school and cake with the extended family at home (lucky boy!).

We had gone to Monster Jam a few weeks prior, so the boys are still full-throttle into the monster trucks.  So when I asked him what he wanted, he said an Iron Man Monster Truck.

Again, getting creative with the pans, I came up with the following:

Iron Man Monster Truck CakeIf the frosting looks a little more yellowed, it probably is, as this time I did make the switch from plain Crisco to an organic palm oil shortening.  I though it actually tasted much better despite the different color.

So, that wraps it up.  Unfortunately now, my Kitchen Aid Pro is back on the fritz, so I’ll have to get that fixed up before tackling much more.

 

Chocolate Waffles

So, I tweeted about this idea a few weeks back, and decided the idea needed to come to fruition…

Chocolate Waffles

I topped mine off with french vanilla ice cream, fresh chopped strawberries, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream.  It was a very filling dessert, but very tasty!  It almost ate like a chocolate strawberry shortcake. If you’d like to try it yourself, here’s the recipe I used:

Chocolate Waffles
Print Recipe
Chocolate waffles that go great with fruit, ice cream, whipped cream, and other toppings! And I made them by hand, with no mixer.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Chocolate Waffles
Print Recipe
Chocolate waffles that go great with fruit, ice cream, whipped cream, and other toppings! And I made them by hand, with no mixer.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
  2. Add water, eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  3. Whisk in melted butter.
  4. Add in cocoa powder and chocolate syrup, and stir until fully incorporated.
  5. Pour into waffle iron and bake until crispy.
  6. Serve hot with your desired toppings.
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And if you want a chewier and more chocolaty waffle, just add some extra chocolate syrup.  The batter can definitely handle a bit more if you’d like it!

Building Block Baby Shower Cakes

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by one of my son’s former daycare teachers to make cakes for his current teacher’s baby shower, which was this past weekend.  They wanted me to make a cake similar to this Martha Stewart idea.  Never one to pass up a challenge, I accepted.  In fact, this is why I initially created my son’s first birthday cake using pre-packaged fondant, as I had never worked with fondant before. The only problem with that initial fondant experience is that I hate the taste of standard fondant, which can probably be most closely compared to already-chewed bubble gum.  So, as I was searching for tastier pre-packaged alternatives, my wife found a “recipe” for marshmallow fondant on pinterest, and I decided to give that a shot. Since that recipe page didn’t give exact measurements for the fondant recipe, here is what I used to make a lemon-flavored fondant for my baby shower cakes:

Building Block Baby Shower Cakes
Print Recipe
An adaptation of a recipe found here: http://seddy5.typepad.com/blog/2010/05/how-to-make-marshmallow-fondant.html
Building Block Baby Shower Cakes
Print Recipe
An adaptation of a recipe found here: http://seddy5.typepad.com/blog/2010/05/how-to-make-marshmallow-fondant.html
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Toss marshmallows with lemon extract and water.
  2. Microwave in 10-30 second intervals until marshmallows melt and are easily stirred.
  3. Add food coloring as needed.
  4. Fold in 3/4 of the powdered sugar in with marshmallow mixture.
  5. Knead in remaining powdered sugar until fondant is slightly tacky, but not dry or sticky. Use more powdered sugar if too sticky, or knead in butter if too dry.
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If you need to store the fondant, the Clockwork Lemon blog suggests that they be wrapped in greased plastic wrap and stored in a large ziplock storage bag.  I used the fondant the same evening I made it, so I just used a little plastic wrap to keep if from drying out as I made several batches to make different colors. For the actual cakes, I used my standard yellow cake mix, but doubled and baked in a large cake pan so I could get block-looking shapes.  I then cut them into 2.5″x2.5″ squares as Martha suggested, dirty frosted them with some buttercream frosting, and then placed on the fondant. Lastly, instead of creating royal icing (which I found as an odd choice for a baby shower cake or a first birthday cake, as the site suggested using it for, since as their royal icing recipe points out: Raw eggs should not be used in food prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children, the elderly, or anyone whose health is compromised.), I used the remainder of my buttercream and colored it to decorate the blocks. After much work, these were the results:

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Yes, she’s having a little girl. And yes, I have yet to earn my Master Piping certification, especially when it comes to free-hand drawing, though my wife did have fun asking me what everything was on the way over to drop them off.  Yes, the one started out as a moon, but it didn’t look right and “evolved” into a cloud and snowflakes (which is appropriate because it was snowing for the shower, OK?).  Oh, and lightning bolts are indeed girly.  I thought everyone knew that. Anyway, I’m my own harshest critic, and I know I have some practice to do to make myself a better decorator, but I didn’t think they turned out too badly.  Besides, they tasted amazing…or at least I’ve been told since I neglected to keep a sample for myself.  I’ll just assume that they were right, because I’d hate to think that they weren’t great with all the effort I put into them! So, it was fun, and very challenging.  Definitely something I’ll need to work on to improve my skills for the next time I attempt something similar. But I’ll leave this post with a challenge for you:  Can you name what all of my little drawings are supposed to be???

Football Cake!

For this year’s Super Bowl, I again went all-out homemade, like I normally do:

  • Wings
  • Fries
  • Ice Cream
  • and, of course, CAKE!

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The cake was actually a request for this year by one of my wife’s friends.  I’ve made is several times in the past, but in previous years I had used some shortcuts (i.e. not from scratch) due to time constraints and this year I wanted to stick with making things from scratch.  I used my yellow cake recipe, but this time I split the batch in two, and added pre-melted chocolate to half, and then swirled the two batters together in the pan to make a marble cake. (Sorry, no shot of the middle.)

The frosting was my standard buttercream, with a small portions separated for the white stripes and laces, and then the remainder mixed with cocoa powder and extra whipping cream until it got a nice chocolaty taste and slightly thicker than usual consistency.

One thought I’d like to add about making this cake is that I hate this cake pan, mostly because it cooks very unevenly and can take almost twice as long as a standard 8″ cake in order to make sure it is cooked all the way though.  Yes, I do have an older oven (it’s painted a rust color if that is any indication), but I don’t have these issues with standard cupcake and cake pans.  So, the ends can turn out dry, while the middle finally cooked.  Not ideal, but I keep this pan around for this annual event nonetheless.

The Technicolor Elephant Cake

This past weekend was my 1-year-olds birthday party, and I had picked out a pan for his birthday cake around six months ago.  I had done a monkey cake pan for my first son, and wanted to stick with a similar theme for the second, so I had picked out an elephant cake pan.  Well, when it had come to make the cake, I decided to try two other things as well.

First, I was going to try working with fondant for the first time.  Now, I’ve never been a big fan of fondant, as I think it often doesn’t add much to a cake besides providing a smoother finish.  However, I have another project coming down the pipeline where I’ve been asked to use fondant, so I thought I’d at least try it out first.

Second, I wanted to make a regular yellow cake recipe, just to keep things easy, but I wanted it to be more fun.  So, after I mixed the batter, I decided to split it up into 4 bowls and color it.

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I then added it to the cake pan, one at a time right into the middle, and shaking them even a little bit with each layer.

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After baking, it looks a little funny as a blue cake, but you can see some of the other colors poking through while it was cooking before I got a chance to level out the back.

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After the cake was fully cooled, I went to work on the decorations.

I first made up a batch of my basic buttercream frosting, and applied a thin layer over the cake to help the fondant stick when applied.

I then rolled out my fondant with a fondant rolling pin, and then flopped it over on the cake.  I then smoothed it to the contours of the cake with the back of a spoon, and then trimmed the edges at the bottom of the cake.

Once the cake was covered, it was time to break out the coloring for the remainder of my buttercream and the piping kit to do the decorations.  Here is a shot of my work in progress:

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And finally, the finished product…

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…which was adorable on it’s own, but there was an audible “WOW” when the cake was cut and served.

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All in all, it turned our pretty awesome.  And it was really pretty easy to do (even if it did require a little extra clean-up), and well worth it the extra little effort in the end.  Everyone enjoyed it, and we barely had any left when all was set and done.

The only thing I’d make sure to change next time would be to roll out the fondant a bit thinner.  I used the medium rings on the rolling pin, and it was easy to handle, but it was a tad thick for the cake.  So, either stick to the really thin fondant (maybe trying the Fondarific as suggested by Jen at Cake Wrecks in her twitter feed), or just stick with the buttercream.

Greg’s Yellow Cake

I’ve previously shared my staple buttercream frosting, and I wanted to add on to that another building block of my dessert arsenal, my basic yellow cake recipe.  Now, there are lots of similar recipes out there, and I’ve tried many of them, and I’ve settled somewhere in between.  This recipe creates a tasty and most yellow cake that is the perfect starting point for many cake and cupcake recipes.

Greg's Yellow Cake
Print Recipe
My basic yellow cake recipe, where many of my other recipes start from and turn into other delicious creations. This recipe will make enough to fill two 8-inch round pans, or about two dozen cupcakes.
Servings
24
Servings
24
Greg's Yellow Cake
Print Recipe
My basic yellow cake recipe, where many of my other recipes start from and turn into other delicious creations. This recipe will make enough to fill two 8-inch round pans, or about two dozen cupcakes.
Servings
24
Servings
24
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks and whole eggs one at a time.
  5. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into prepared cupcake/cake pans.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes for cupcakes, 25-30 minutes for cakes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Cool 15 minutes before placing onto cooling racks.
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Lemon Bellies Cupcakes

This past week was my wife’s birthday, and unfortunately, we were not able to find time to celebrate as a family on the day, so we pushed the celebration back to earlier this evening.  Since my wife is a fan of lemon bars, I came up with the idea of turning them into a cupcake.  The result is what I am calling my Lemon Bellies Cupcakes.

lemon_bellies

Lemon Bellies Cupcakes
Print Recipe
First made for my wife's birthday, they are a plain yellow cake mix (slightly influenced by a sugar cookie recipe), injected with lemon curd, and topped with a light-tasting ricotta buttercream frosting.
Servings
24
Servings
24
Lemon Bellies Cupcakes
Print Recipe
First made for my wife's birthday, they are a plain yellow cake mix (slightly influenced by a sugar cookie recipe), injected with lemon curd, and topped with a light-tasting ricotta buttercream frosting.
Servings
24
Servings
24
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks and whole eggs one at a time.
  5. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into prepared cupcake pans.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Cool 15 minutes before placing onto cooling racks.
  8. Once completely cooled, use a piping bag with Bismarck tip to inject cupcakes with lemon curd in the middle.
  9. For frosting, cream butter and shortening in an electric mixer with whipping attachments.
  10. Stop mixer, add confectioners’ sugar, and slowly combine with other ingredients. Increase speed once fully incorporated.
  11. Add ricotta cheese and combine.
  12. Slowly add cream and incorporate at high speeds. Continue beating until frosting is light and fluffy.
  13. Top cupcakes with frosting (I use a piping bag and cake decorating tips), being sure to cover up holes created while injecting lemon curd.
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Thoughts

This turned to be a nice and light tasting cupcake, which really let the lemon curd shine despite there only being a small amount in the cupcake (in comparison to a lemon bar).  The cake and frosting almost took a backseat, while still complimenting the flavors of the lemon.  My wife and I both enjoyed it, though I should probably allow her to speak for herself. I would definitely make these again, maybe for a more summery event, like a picnic or cookout.

My First Gluten-Free Cupcake

Gluten-free has never been much of a concern of mine.  There aren’t any gluten allergies that run in my family, and I just don’t know too many people with them. However, when I wanted to make a cupcake to take to daycare for my son’s first birthday, I thought it would be best to play it safe and avoid as many potential allergens as possible, so that all the kids could enjoy the cupcakes.  That lead to me attempting a gluten-free banana maple cupcake.

gluten-free-cupcake

Thoughts

I topped these with my standard buttercream recipe, just colored “red” (yes, it never got past hot pink…I eventually gave up), sprinkled with some yellow sugar and topped with candy pieces. I have to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of the flavor of the gluten-free flour I used.  It didn’t provide as sweet of a flavor as I had been looking for, but it worked well enough with the bananas.  If I were to do it again, I’d probably go with an arrowroot flour/starch because I’ve seen it more with infants crackers and cookies, and I think it may give a sweeter flavor.  However, for my first venture into gluten-free, I don’t think it was too bad.

My First Gluten-Free Cupcake
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I made these as mini-cupcakes so there were plenty to share with the kids at daycare, and the cook time is for those.
My First Gluten-Free Cupcake
Print Recipe
I made these as mini-cupcakes so there were plenty to share with the kids at daycare, and the cook time is for those.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the bananas until fully combined.
  5. Beat in the egg yolks and whole eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and maple syrup.
  6. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Cool 15 minutes before placing onto cooling racks.
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Greg’s Standard Buttercream Frosting

It seems appropriate to start off the recipe portion of this blog with some of the basics that I work with.  So, since I plan on spending a lot of time on cupcakes, I thought I’d start with the basic frosting I use to top many of them (or tweak to get those great flavors). I used to always use the basic Wilton Buttercream Icing recipe, but I found that too often it wasn’t as firm as I wanted it to be.  Therefore, I made a few tweaks to it to get the kind of frosting I wanted, and ended up with this recipe:

Greg's Standard Buttercream Frosting
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Greg's basic buttercream frosting recipe, that is often the backbone of my other frosting variations.
Greg's Standard Buttercream Frosting
Print Recipe
Greg's basic buttercream frosting recipe, that is often the backbone of my other frosting variations.
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and shortening in an electric mixer with whipping attachments.
  2. Add vanilla and combine.
  3. Stop mixer, add confectioners' sugar, and slowly combine with other ingredients. Increase speed once fully incorporated.
  4. Slowly add cream and incorporate at high speeds. Continue beating until frosting is light and fluffy.
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You may notice that my two biggest changes are to use more shortening and heavy whipping cream instead of milk, and I feel that these make for a more stable frosting, which is great for piping onto cupcakes. Don’t worry…the cupcakes recipes will be coming shortly!