Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cupcakes: Bringing More Joy to Joyous Occasions Since (at least) 1796

I'm starting this blog with entries about what led up to me wanting to keep it. This post is backdated to approximately the date it happened.

(No, I didn't make that date up. I found it here.)

Two of my best friends recently married each other, and the masses rejoiced. The rejoicement was aided and abetted by the sixty cupcakes I baked for the wedding shower. Most of the shower guests were not vegetarians, so I baked thirty vegan cupcakes and thirty dairy.

For the vegan cupcakes, I used the Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes with Old-Fashioned Velvet Icing from VCTOTW and I made the Lemon Cheesecake recipe from The Cupcake Book because the engaged couple and their family members all love cheesecake.

The Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes were done with half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour. Again, I baked a test batch to see if I could make them, but instead of just testing them on my family this time, I also gave two to people planning the shower with me. Everyone loved them. They were tasty and pretty, despite my spoon-applied frosting (I wasn't ready for the pastry bag just yet).

The bride doesn't like lemon cakes, so I omitted the lemon juice from the Lemon Cheesecakes. When we tasted them, they were delicious (my brother said it was the best cheesecake he'd ever had), but I thought they were very greasy and one of my friends said they were a bit too dense. Also, they puffed up very high during baking, then fell while cooling, making a bit of a crater in the top of each one.

I clearly had some work to do if I wanted to wow and amaze with my baked goods.

We needed 60 cupcakes, but I ended up making 72 since I wanted equal amounts of vegan and dairy. This was great because I wasn't able to fit all 72 in the pastry boxes I got, so the messed up ones stayed home.

I made the three dozen Crimson Velveteen cupcakes the same way I'd made them the first time...except I ran out of red food coloring. One dozen ended up brown velvet, but almost all of those went to my family because of the box issue. The decorating with the pastry bag went far better than I'd expected. I was able to make simple swirls, lines and dots reasonably neatly. I didn't do any tall icing swirls because most of the people I knew would be there are not huge icing fans; they prefer the cake.

Yes, everything was fine until the damn pastry bag SPLIT right up the seam and started squirting out icing in various shapes and patterns. It actually looked kind of cool. There were thin, angel hair pasta-like bits of frosting coming out of the smaller holes and a wide ribbon of it squirting out of the seam. I tried to harness the power of the split bag and decorate a couple of cupcakes with the ribbons, but it didn't really work. I ended up frosting the remaining cupcakes with a spoon. Bah. I also sprinkled all the cupcakes with a bit of a blue sugar to match the color theme of the party.

For the cheesecakes, I replaced the full fat cream cheese with fat free and butter with margarine in the hopes of making them less greasy. It worked. I also beat the batter longer to make it less dense and maybe even keep the finished cakes from cratering. They definitely came out less dense and were nice and fluffy, but they still rose and fell, leaving craters behind. So I cut some strawberries into heart shapes to cover them up.

I then put all the cupcakes in laser-cut filigree cupcake wrappers to give them an extra fancy touch and arranged them on a tiered cupcake tower one of the other party organizers decorated.

They all went over very well. Most people had more than one and the bride's aunt was shocked when she learned I'd made them. She thought they came from "a fancy bakery in Brooklyn". I think everyone was quite pleased, brown velvet, craters and all.

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