The Journey of Writing a Cupcake Recipe Cookbook
The Idea Comes to Mind
Albert Einstein once said, "If at first the idea is not absurd, then there's no hope for it." There was a glimmer of hope in the absurd idea to write a cookbook of cupcake recipes when it came to me in the wee hours of the morning. I am a writer by trade but one of my hobbies is to design and decorate cakes. I've created wedding cakes, toilet cakes and the like, but these were all from cake mixes. To write a cupcake recipe book...I knew I had to begin by coming up with cupcake recipes that were original, unlike any other. But I'm a writer, right? Baking and decorating wedding cakes and other cakes was simple enough. This is where the absurdity of my idea began.
My mind tends to wander in the early hours of the morning. I come up with all sorts of "brilliant" ideas and they sure look good to me at the time. Bringing the idea to fruition is an entirely different ballgame. As I stood in the kitchen, staring at the Kitchen Aide mixer, I realized I didn't have Betty Crocker to help me. I had no idea where to begin.Thus began the adventure.
Everyone knows that cake has flour, sugar, eggs and leavening products in the list of ingredients needed. Other than that, who knows? This idea wasn't going to go as well as I thought. The search was on to find what made cakes rise, stay moist and taste good. Cupcakes are smaller than cakes, making this an easier task, right? Or so I believed. As a writer, I knew research was inevitable.
Every good plan has to have failures, right? If I had a dime for every failure I have had over the past several months, I would be a very wealthy woman right now. I've had cupcakes so moist they couldn't stand up on their own. I've had some turn out so dense I could bring shame to those who manufacture hockey pucks for a living. Some have been so horrid that I simply threw them out the moment they were retrieved from the oven. My dog has since stayed away from the garbage can, a place where he would typically visit to see if last night's dinner was any good.
I began to wonder if watching cooking shows would help. Months of watching "Cupcake Wars" and "Chopped" led me to believe that I was embarking on a journey that would be more difficult than anticipated. As I studied the show for ideas on creating recipes, I found myself watching the reactions of the participants rather than the cooking of entrees or desserts. There were tears shed. Sobbing. Lots of sobbing. Cakes that were three feet high would fall over, spilling onto the floor the contestant's hopes and dreams of receiving that $25,000 grand prize to help excel their personal businesses. I found myself full of empathy for them. I also thought about dumping this idea immediately. What was I thinking? I didn't want to cry into my mixing bowl. If the professionals were having such a horrible time, what made me think I could do this? From this experience, I concluded it was time to return to the basics.
Mixing up Recipes
Wilton's Muffin Pans Make the Perfect Sized Cupcakes
Inventing the Recipe
I knew I had to return to the simplest form of cupcake creation. A good foundation is always the beginning of any working idea. It was back to the basic recipe to craft a good cupcake. My kitchen became a laboratory as I observed the interaction between baking powder and buttermilk. It began to foam. Should I run? Would this interaction inject bubbles into the cake mix? Would it make it light and fluffy or create an explosion in my kitchen? Did I need to invest in some goggles and gloves?
The attempts were futile. Cupcake after cupcake ended up in the trash. Just as I was ready to admit failure, the research led me to the actual science of a basic cake recipe. I began the process by Googling what makes a cake rise, what makes it moist, which ingredients create a good foundation for fruits, nuts, flavorings and spices? The search was on.
After eight months of this process, I had a successful run in the beginning of February. I changed the mindset of using other recipes to blend together a unique cupcake. I feel rather silly admitting that I studied eggs and their duty in the cupcake batter. Flour, baking soda, baking powder and other ingredients were given days of in-depth research. I wanted to know what each and every ingredient did, when to add them and what the end result would be when each element was incorporated into the mix. A cupcake recipe finally came into the picture, giving me hope that maybe this wasn't such a bad idea.
Research led to the knowledge that each ingredient had a purpose and a time to be incorporated. Creaming fat and sugar together was a vital key to keeping things on an even keel when it came to the balance of light, fluffy and moist. Over mixing during the creaming process could also lead to disaster. If the professors I had in college could see me watching video after video of when to tell if butter and sugar were mixed properly, they would probably cringe.
It paid off when I finally achieved the goal. My cupcakes came out light, fluffy and had moisture. Enough moisture to make them tasty, but not too much to become a replica of the creature of the black lagoon. As the cupcakes rose to perfection, my confidence level returned. I had accomplished what I set out to do. There's not a better feeling in the world.
Success in Cake Form
The Foundation is Ready
At last. I had invested enough time and now the recipe had to have flavor. I held my breath while adding each and every ingredient. Mixing was done with the utmost care. Flavors were kept to a minimum to ensure I could create a sound recipe for the cake batter first. I chose a root beer flavoring that would be topped with a frosting I had worked with for quite some time. The frosting would be a whipped cream frosting and when used in combination with the root beer flavoring would be reminiscent of a root beer float.
I mixed. As much love as I could muster went into each and every stir. The ingredients were added carefully and now it was time to fill the liners. After filling each liner halfway, I placed the cupcake pan into the oven.
Minutes ticked by. The cupcakes were rising. They looked good. The aroma of root beer filled my house. All was going well.
Finally! The timer went off. I pulled the cupcakes from the oven and placed them on a cooling rack. When the cooling period was complete, I whipped up some whipped cream frosting and piped it onto the cupcakes. At this point, I wasn't interested in decoration, but in the texture and flavor of the cupcake.
I tore one open. It was light, fluffy and moist. I felt like I had discovered the cure for cancer! My science project was complete. Now the foundation or base of the cupcake recipe book was finalized. Adding unique flavors and decorations would come next. But for now, I will enjoy the fact that I didn't rely on any other recipe. I created my own.
As with any recipe, there will be ingredients that will be added to assist the cakes in maintaining their texture as other elements are incorporated into the mix. Fruits, nuts and spices bring a new design to the table. Once the foundation is set, it can be built upon with little alterations here and there.
Below is the recipe for a simple chocolate cupcake with a chocolate pudding filling. I topped it all off with a chocolate whipped cream frosting. It's a fairly easy recipe to follow and the frosting has garnered rave reviews from my taste testers.
The recipe can be used as a simple white cake recipe by omitting the cocoa powder. The creativity after that, is up to you.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Pudding Filling and Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
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Prep and Cook Time
Ingredients for Chocolate Cupcakes and Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 1/2 sticks butter, salted or unsalted
- 1 egg
- 3 eggs yolks
- 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
- 1 package chocolate pudding, or your favorite homemade pudding
- 3 cups whipping cream, for frosting
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder, for frosting
- 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, for frosting
Instructions for Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
- Allow butter to drop to room temperature if kept in the refrigerator.
- In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and creamy. When the creaming process is complete, the sugar should be almost melded completely into the butter.
- Add in the whole egg. Mix well.
- Separate the other three eggs. Mix in the egg yolks and dispose of the whites.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cocoa powder and baking powder.
- Pour the buttermilk or milk into a small bowl. Alternating the flour and milk mixtures, add each slowly into the wet ingredient mixture. Be sure to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl periodically to ensure a uniform blend.
- Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and fill each halfway full with the cake batter.
- Bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until done or until they spring back when pressed with fingertip.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting or adding filling.
- Mix pudding according to package instructions or make homemade chocolate pudding.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, insert knife or cake decorating tip into each cupcake to form a hole in the center. Pipe or spoon pudding into each cupcake.
- Pour heavy whipping cream into mixing bowl. Sift in powdered sugar and cocoa powder and mix as you would if you were making regular whipping cream. Add powdered sugar to taste.
- Mix whipping cream until light and fluffy. The mixture will form peaks easily that will remain when left alone. Pipe the frosting onto each cupcake.
When mixing cupcake batter, it is essential that the creaming process is done correctly. The video included in this article takes you through this process.
Work with the recipe as needed. Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda when adding any type of fruit or ingredient that is acidic. The baking soda will balance the pH level to keep the cupcake light and moist.
The temperature of the butter is important when baking. Remove the butter from the refrigerator a couple of hours prior to baking. Butter should be at room temperature before creaming.
Why one egg and three egg yolks? Egg yolks are known to dry out the cake batter. Egg yolks add moisture. The addition of the egg yolks are to keep the cake batter as moist as possible. The size of the egg can make a difference too. Use large to extra large eggs when baking.
Basic White Cake Recipe
|Serving size: 62 grams|
|Calories from Fat||99|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 11 g||17%|
|Saturated fat 7 g||35%|
|Unsaturated fat 4 g|
|Carbohydrates 26 g||9%|
|Sugar 17 g|
|Fiber 1 g||4%|
|Protein 3 g||6%|
|Cholesterol 39 mg||13%|
|Sodium 110 mg||5%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Piping Bags and Tips are the Key to Success in Cupcake Baking
The Importance of the Creaming Process
© 2016 Vicki Perry