In keeping with my Valentine’s enthusiasm, this post is entirely about things I love. Some things would be considered simple joys. Like these super cute cupcake liners from Crate and Barrel. As if cupcakes aren’t fun enough already! Wouldn’t you love getting a tasty homemade cupcake in one of these babies?
On the subject of great cupcake things, how about my new commercial-size muffin tin? Oh yeah. 24 muffins or cupcakes at once. Sweet. Just one of the advantages of having a mom who works at Williams-Sonoma.
I also love my empire red KitchenAid stand mixer. I’ve named her Rosie. Here she is, hard at work making some buttercream. (And yeah…I’m keeping it real. My kitchen isn’t spic and span while I’m in the middle of baking. Notice the powdered sugar everywhere.)
One more thing I love is Bridget’s blog, The Way the Cookie Crumbles. She’s super sweet, takes great pictures, writes with such personality and voice, and does the most fantastic comparisons. She’s basically a one-woman version of America’s Test Kitchen. Last year around Valentine’s Day, she crowned me queen of red velvet cake. I was beyond flattered that someone with a blog of her caliber would even read my blog, let alone make one of my recipes and like it! This year, to thank Bridget, I’m making two recipes I’ve found on her blog–Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake and an adaptation of Cook’s Ilustrated’s Easy Vanilla Buttercream. Both were wonderful, of course.
Dorie’s Perfect Party Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream cake recipe from The Way the Cookie Crumblesfrosting recipe adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles, originally from Cook’s Illustrated, April 2007 printer-friendly recipe
For cake:1 TBSP baking powder ½ tsp. salt4 large egg whites 1½ c. (10½ oz.) sugar 2 tsp. grated lemon zest 1 stick (8 TBSP or 4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature ½ tsp. pure lemon extract20 TBSP (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softenedFor the cake:1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet. For cupcakes, prepare a muffin tin with liners and spray with baking spray to ensure the tops will release.
2¼ c. (9 oz.) cake flour
1¼ c. whole milk or buttermilk
For the buttercream:
2 ½ c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/8 tsp. salt
1 TBSP raspbery liquer or 1 1/2 tsp. raspberry extract
2 TBSP heavy cream
gel food coloring, if desired
1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
2. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
3. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
4. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
5. If making a layer cake, divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. If making cupcakes, fill each well evenly. (I like to use a standard-sized cookie scoop.) Bake cupcakes from 20-25 minutes, or until tops are lightly gold and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes. After this, remove cupcakes and allow to cool completely. For rounds, run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).
For the buttercream:
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attacment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.
2. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt. Beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until the mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds.
3. Scrape bowl, add liquer or extract, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about ten seconds. If using gel food color (I used Wilton burgundy for this buttercream) add at this time.
4. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about four minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.