I’m on a MAJOR high today – for many reasons including the fact that I’ve eaten about 6 vegan cupcakes and waaaaaaay too much frosting (which I’ll post about tomorrow once there’s a bit more light to take pictures – this also means that I can’t gobble them ALL today, which is good. I need incentives like that) + what I take to be a big big compliment / baking ego boost.. But we’ll get to that soon!
So it’s taken me a few days (I’m rubbish, haven’t quite got the hang of this yet) but getting back to those cupcakes I mentioned in the first post (and umm.. the only the post, prior to this..haha) – I made them for my friend Laura’s birthday and decided try a couple different recipes just to give the ol’ kitchenaid and magimix a good workout. And because I’m always terrified that one or other batch will fail and I’ll be left with 24 sad little yorkshire puds to cart to a party.. this fear is based on a number of traumatic past experiences, so it may take some time to work through… (A few more behaviour experiments maybe, Laura?)
Clockwise from the top: carrot cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting, carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting, lemon cake with raspberry jam filling and lemon cream cheese frosting, another carrot cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting, lemon cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting and in the middle: chocolate sour cream cake with nutella chocolate fudge frosting (sickeningly addictive!).
Since I baked three full cupcake & frosting recipes there was a ton left over even after the party. I had already stuffed the unfrosted cakes in the freezer, but what to do with the frosted ones from the party? Well.. there’s a lovely little cafe around the corner from me and when I went in about a month ago, I found out that their cupcakes were made by local bakers. Since then I’ve been fantasizing about becoming one of these local bakers, so I finally decided to act.. Unfortunately, when I rang up, the sweet waitress told me their policy had just changed and they now use just one supplier – but she did encourage me to drop a few samples by just in case the owner changed her mind.. So I did. Figured I’ve got nothing to lose and only pounds (of the weight rather than money variety) to gain by keeping the leftover cupcakes. The waitress gave me a sad (slightly pitying) smile when she took that samples and assured me she’d pass them on to the owner, so I didn’t hold out much hope.
BUT… today I got this email:
Hello and many thanks for bringing in the samples.Can you let me know how much and how you wold deliver the cupcakes – are you local?Also, a price list of anything else you do… carrot cake? banana loaf? choc cake?Let me know – I do have a supplier right now but always looking for a better deal/service.
So I know this isn’t a full-on plea to sell my wares, or even a tentative ‘yes’… She’s got a supplier and anyway, if I’m being realistic, I couldn’t hope to produce reliably because a) I’m doing a doctorate which involves working 9-5 at placements and going to lectures + study/research overtime, and b) I still have regular baking disasters. So while I might be able to offer a better deal than the current supplier (hell, I’d consider giving them the cakes free or paying her to sell ’em just for kicks), the ‘service’ part might be a problem.. I also realize that there are loads of much more talented bakers out there… who sell, write cookbooks or just bake for fun and friends..
BUT this means that someone would consider selling – selling!- something I’ve made!!! Woohoo!! I actually yelped when I read the email.. how lame, haha..
ANYWAY – in case you want the details..
The carrot cake recipe was Dorie’s (or Big Bill’s actually) and worked out brilliantly in cupcake form. I love this recipe – I’ve baked it about a dozen times and it always gets rave reviews. So I guess it’s become my Go2 then, although I keep meaning to have a bake-off to compare it with my old favourite..
Since it’s been posted before (see all the amazing TWD blogs), I’m assuming it’s ok to re-post, so here you go:
Bill’s Big Carrot Cake
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans – my boyfriend isn’t a fan of nuts so I left this out
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) – I used 2 cups because the extra texture & coconut flavour hit is yum
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries – left this out because I HATE raisins in carrot cake. hate.
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another. I used 2 12-cupcake pans and had a bit of batter left over – but I probably should have done a few more instead of shoving as much batter as I could in each cup, as there were a few overflows..
To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.
This is a picture of my boyfriend eating one of the carrot cakes. Apologies for the quality of the photo, but I had to grab the opportunity to snap this while I could because my boyfriend rarely eats anything sweet I bake- he’s at the extreme end of the savoury lover spectrum. And I rarely bake anything that’s not sweet, so we’ve got a fundamental problem. For that reason, I’d say the picture is a testament to how good these bad boys turned out.
I also used Dorie’s perfect party cake recipe for the lemon cupcakes – you can find it at http://www.tablefare.com/blog/2009/06/29/perfect-party-cake/ (sorry don’t know how to link discretely yet!). I live in the UK so I’ve struggled with recipes that call for cake flour as most shops just seem to stock plain flour (with gluten % equal to all-purpose in the States) and self-raising. The technique of sub’ing 3/4 all-purpose plus cornflour has failed me in the past (I should give it a nother chance, I know..) so I’ve a lot of recipes just because they’ve called for cake flour. BUT I recently made a very exciting discovery – I found a french flour with about a 9% gluten content at a giant Waitrose on Holloway road in Islington so I’ve been stocking up like mad. (Not sure what I’ll do when my placement changes and I’m not cruising Holloway road anymore.. I may have to bite the bullet and see what Wholefoods on High St Ken has to offer…)
Anyway, the lemon cupcakes domed beautifully and although Dorie suggests a buttercream to top, they tasted fantastic with cream cheese frosting, which is always my preference. To be honest, I actually sucked up the courage and finally tried to make buttercream to top the chocolate cupcakes, but things went very very very wrong… (I almost ruined a saucepan and thought I might have ruined my one treasured KA mixer bowl.. horror..thankfully all was well in the end aside from the buttercream, which was speckled with brown chunks of caramelized sugar and tasted terrible – like the hunk of butter and burnt sugar it was..).
The cream cheese frosting recipe was taken from ‘Sky High – Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes’ by Alisa Hutsman and Peter Wynn. One batch was flavoured only with vanilla extract and another with 1tsp vanilla + 1 tsp lemon extract. I also used their sour cream chocolate cake recipe (which I’ve made several times before with the suggested peanut butter frosting & glaze – incredible!). I definitely recommend this book. I haven’t tried that many recipes yet but the ones I have tried turned out brilliantly. Have a look at the Cake Slice bakers’ blogs to see more – they’re baking their way through the whole book, and so far the cakes all look gorgeous!
The nutella chocolate fudge frosting was a bit of an experiment – it was based on a yummy vegan buttercream frosting I found on Baking Bites (gah! how do I insert a link here?) to which I added a whole jar of nutella plus a few extra tablespoons of milk and a quarter cup of water to reach a piping-friendly consistency. Now, I’m not vegan (just vegetarian) and I usually operate on the assumption that desserts should involve full fat everything – real butter, cream, loads of frosting etc etc.. but I’ve been experimenting with soya subs since my boyfriend’s sister went vegan a while back..
And I’ll post more on that next time..