Friday, May 10, 2013

How to Make Striped Cupcake Frosting

Hi! Happy Friday! Thank goodness it's the weekend, right? Have I mentioned how I really don't like going to work and basically live for the evenings at home and the weekend? Because I do. And this should be a pretty good weekend. Joe and I get to stay at home and we should make some pretty good progress on our built-ins. We're also going to do some garage saling (woo-hoo!!!) and just generally relax. Sounds good to me! Unfortunately we won't get to spend Mother's Day with either of our Moms but I hope they both have a wonderful Mother's Day. Same goes to all the other Moms who may be reading this! We love you ladies!

I've done quite a bit of baking in the past few weeks and one of the occasions I baked for was a Birthday Blessings delivery. Birthday Blessings recently added the option of letting the child decide if they'd like a cake or cupcakes, and the most recent one I signed up for was cupcakes. I must say it was way quicker than making and decorating a cake! They still give guidelines for favorite cake and icing flavors, as well as favorite colors. This little girl's favorite colors were pink and purple so I thought it would be fun to try the striped icing like I did on the St. Pat's Pot o' Gold muffins last year. I also picked out some pink, black and white cheetah print cupcake liners because they were cute :) Since I'd done this technique once before, I knew a couple tricks, but I also learned some things this go round. But overall, it's still pretty fool proof. Here's what you'll need:

 - A large pastry bag, probably 14" - 16" (you want it to be big enough to hold the icing for all the cupcakes at once)
- A 1M pastry tip (A large start tip)
- A large cup to old the icing bag
- Gel food coloring
- Toothpicks
- Buttercream Icing - I'd say 3-4 cups for 2 dozen cupcakes

First, place your pastry tip into the pastry bag. Then fold the the bag at the tip and place into your large cup. I fold the end over so that no icing leaks out, but also to let the bag go farther down into the bowl. Fold the edges of the pastry bag over the cup. Try and smooth out the inside so there aren't too many wrinkles.

Dip a toothpick into your first icing color and use it to "draw" a line of color inside the bag. One thing I learned this time is that the closer you can get the line to the bottom of the bag (toward the pastry tip), the less icing you'll waste waiting for the color to make it's way out. Continue drawing your lines of food coloring around the bag until you have all the colors you'd like.

Then pile in the icing! Be careful to not stir it around or anything. You want the stripes to stay in nice lines. What I learned the first time I tried this with the St. Pat's muffins was that you can't just go back and add more icing and expect the same results. The colors get squished together and don't come out very vibrantly. If you do have to refill your icing bag, I would recommend starting with fresh food coloring stripes. That's why you have to use a big bag!

I promise it all fit! I carefully lifted the bag out of the cup then kind of shook the icing down the rest of the way. 

Once your bag is ready to go, start squeezing icing out until you start seeing the color. I had a few extra cupcakes so I iced those first, but still didn't see any color come out. So I squeezed some into my mixing bowl. Once the color started, I moved on to the rest of my cupcakes. You'll be able to tell that the first few were still a little light in color, but I was afraid that if I didn't start icing them, I'd run out before I was done. I had just enough though!

Even after icing 4 cupcakes, there was no color coming out yet. 

There's the color! 

I think they turned out cute and I hope the little girl liked them. These are really fun and easy if you need something in a certain color and you don't want to dye the entire batch of icing. Plus, people will be really impressed and will think they were store bought :) Even if you don't do the striped icing, using a pastry bag and the 1M pastry tip will make the icing look much more "professional" and believe me, it's way easier than trying to use a knife to spread on icing! Let me know if anyone tries this out, I'd love to see what you guys make! Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Orange Amaretto Pound Cake

I sat down about 45 minutes ago to write this post. I uploaded my pictures, then got online and signed into blogger. Next thing I knew, I was on the local animal shelter website looking at all their adoptable pets. No idea how I got there. Must have blacked out :) Right now I honestly can't remember what train of thought led me to look for adoptable pets, but regardless, I found some cute ones. There was a chocolate lab named Chunkamuffin who looked like a sweetie-pie. She reminded me of another "chunky" lab I know :) Joe and I definitely need to make a stop by the shelter soon to play with the animals. We've gone a few times in the past and always have fun just petting and visiting the cats and dogs. I'm always sad to leave without a pet of my own to bring home, but hopefully it brightened the animals day and maybe got them a little more socialized so that they'll get adopted sooner. Eventually I'll wear Joe down and we'll come home with a little kitty or big dog :)

Now that I'm out of my cute animal trance, I can get back to the point of this post. I made this cake a couple weekends ago I guess, but I honestly just haven't felt like blogging since the last post. Spending all day at work just leaves me uninspired when I get home. Oh well, at least I have a job, right? That's what I keep telling myself. But there I go getting off track again! The reason for making this cake was simply to have something to test my baking goop on. The recipe came from the Vintage Cakes cookbook that Gracie gave me for Christmas. The Honey Bee Cake I made back in January was also from this book. However, if you go looking for an "Orange Amaretto Pound Cake" in the cookbook, you won't find it. The recipe I followed was actually for a Harvey Wallbanger Cake. It called for Galliano (a type of Italian liquor) but I didn't feel like buying some just for this cake, so I used Amaretto instead. Since the Galliano is what made it a Harvey Wallbanger Cake (named after a cocktail), I couldn't call what I was making by the same name. Hence the "Orange Amaretto Pound Cake". This cake was wonderful. Not too fancy, perfect for snacking, dense and very flavorful. Needless to say, I ate a lot of it. Here's the recipe:

Orange Amaretto Pound Cake
makes 1 bundt cake

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sifted cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. fine sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil
5 eggs
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup Amaretto (or Galliano for a true Harvey Wallbanger Cake)
1/4 cup vodka

1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
5 T orange juice
*you could swap out some tablespoons of orange juice for amaretto or vodka, but I didn't want the glaze to be too boozy in case I decided to bring it to work.

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Grease and flour (or use baking goop) the inside of a fluted bundt pan.

- Sift together the flours, baking powder and salt into a bowl, then whisk the mixture by hand to ensure that the ingredients are well mixed.

When I bought this sifter for 25 cents at a garage sale, the lady selling it said, "you'll never use that". Ha! I showed her :) 

- Add the butter, sugar and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium high until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

- Reduce the speed to low and drizzle in the oil until incorporated. Return to medium-high speed and beat for another 2 minutes.

- Blend in the eggs one at a time, adding the next one just after the previous one is blended in. Stop the mixer frequently and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.

I've found that if you just put all the eggs in one measuring cup then, when you pour them out, they'll naturally pop out one at a time. 

- In a separate bowl, combine the orange juice, Amaretto and vodka. With the mixer on low speed, stir in the flour mixture into the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the orange juice mixture. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

- Beat until just barely combined after each addition, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions. Stop mixing just shy of complete incorporation and finish mixing by hand with a rubber spatula.

Go ahead, taste a spoonful. I won't judge :)

- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan firmly on the counter to settle the batter. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer poked into the cake comes out just barely clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and finish cooling.

- To make the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar and orange juice together and drizzle over the cake. I placed my cake on a rack over a pan so I could collect the glaze that dripped and reuse it :)

That's it!  I know it sounds like a lot of steps, but it was simple and came together quickly. The hardest part is letting it bake then cool! I have several other posts on backlog that I need to share, so we'll see if I can motivate myself to do that this week. I hope you all have a good night and a great week. Talk to you later!