Art + Science of Cupcakes with Lucie Simone

For Christmas, I got myself a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. After battling a batch of sugar cookie dough with my little hand blender until my fingers cramped, I knew it was time to step up my game. And let me tell you, baking has never been so much fun.

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I haven’t always been a baker. In fact, I didn’t start baking until a little over two years ago. It started out with cookies. Chocolate chip walnut cookies, to be exact. I was on a mission to perfect the cookie after having spent decades burning them to little black discs my cat wouldn’t even eat (and he eats anything!). It took some trying, but I finally figured out how to keep them crisp, yet moist without a hint of charred chocolate.

After mastering the cookie, I moved on to muffins and delighted my co-workers nearly every Monday with blueberry muffins, strawberry muffins, corn muffins, or chocolate chip muffins. And with every mmmm and ahhhh, my confidence grew until I was ready to take on the queen of desserts. The cupcake!

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It wasn’t the cake part of the cupcake that intimidated me. It was the frosting. I’d never made frosting in my life, and I had no idea how incredibly easy it was. A couple sticks of butter, a couple cups of powdered sugar, a little vanilla, a splash of milk, and voila! Frosting! I still need a bit of practice with the pastry bag (I tend to get more frosting on my sleeves than on my cupcakes), but it’s super fun swirling the icing into tall peaks of buttercream bliss. It’s incredibly therapeutic.

And since I started baking cupcakes, I’ve tested a few different recipes, looking for the perfect crumb. And in my opinion, this is it. Light, fluffy, moist, and delicious. Yum!

I got this recipe from cookiesandcups.com – Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients
1 3/4 Cups cake flour
1 1/4 Cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 Cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Cup butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 eggs
1 Cup milk
2 tsp vanilla

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°
Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
In bowl of stand mixer add the first 5 ingredients and stir together using paddle attachment for about a minute. Enough to get them nice and combined.
With mixer on low, drop in butter, a few cubes at a time continuing until all butter is in and mixer resembles coarse sand.
Add eggs one at a time on low speed.
With mixer still on low slowly pour in milk and vanilla. Turn mixer to medium and beat for 2 minutes until batter is smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
Fill liners 2/3 full (about 1/4 cup batter) and bake for 15-20 minutes until centers are set and toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Note: to substitute cake flour, use all purpose cup for cup, minus 2 tablespoons, plus 2 tablespoons corn starch.

And for the frosting, my own concoction:

2 sticks room temp butter
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons milk

Cream the sugar and butter together until smooth, add the vanilla, and milk (one tablespoon at a time) until the frosting is the consistency you like it.

This recipe will frost 12 cupcakes if you like to pile it on high, or 24 if you prefer a light shmear.

Enjoy!

                                                                                   

luciesimone.jpegLucie Simone has a passion for travel, yoga, and writing.She has a degree in Journalism, a  Master of Fine Arts in Television Production, and is a certified yoga teacher. Her love of comedy (and living under the delusion that she might one day be an actress) resulted in a stint studying improvisation, which, ironically enough, taught her to be a better writer.

 www.luciesimone.com

 

FEED YOUR HEART: RECIPE WEEK

This week I’ve decided to give the kitchen table here at EAT~WRITE~LOVE over to a few authors & bakers who know a thing or two about romance  and, er… dessert. Grab a coffee and  join us everyday this week and get inspired as I combine my two loves: baking and Chick Lit.

Enjoy!

MEET HERS BAKERY

I was lucky enough last week to spend an afternoon with a handful of bloggers from MomsLA.com for my very first book club for HEARTBREAK CAKE. I was nervous (terrified) as you can imagine, but also really excited to hear from readers who wanted to chat about my book (awesome!)

I had been coordinating for a few weeks with editor Sarah Auerswald and she had briefly mentioned getting a heart-shaped cake for the event.

Cake? No problem, I thought. When it comes to cake, I know exactly who to call.

Tasha Sanchez and her business partner Melanie Johnstone are the women behind Los Angeles based Hers Bakery, an indie catering company with a focus on sweet desserts.  I gave  Tasha some details on the cake  that was inspired from one in my book and she said “I got this.”

Boy, she wasn’t kidding.

On the day of the book event, no one could stop taking pictures of the cake or saying how amazing it tasted.  Moist, sweet but not overly sweet, just the right amount of crunchy hazelnuts and an undertone of Nutella that made  you heady with happiness. Seconds were a must.

 

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  I had a quick chat with Tasha, who is a busy mom of two, and while she wouldn’t give me the secret to how she makes such a moist cake, seeing as it’s an industry hazard. She did give me a  peek into some of the steps she took to make this baking beauty.

How did you make this glorious cake? Tasha: LOL! I started with our  lovely chocolate cake recipe, baked three layers in a heart-shaped pan.  I made a chocolate and Nutella buttecream and garnished it with crushed hazelnut candies on the edge.

It was epic, thank you! Is this a popular cake for Hers Bakery?  I made it for the first time a few months ago for a wedding and it was delicious! I was hoping I could make it again soon.

So do you think chocolate and hazelnuts are good for heartbreak? Anything with chocolate is good! Add nuts and it is even better, you can’t mess with a good chocolate and hazelnut cake, it can handle anything!

Thanks to Tasha and to everyone at Hers Bakery for making this beautiful cake!  And thanks to MomsLA.com and all the amazing bloggers who came out for lunch for some book talk + cake!

RECREATE THIS CAKE: Recipe from Kitchen Daily.