Every time I bake, it makes me feel differently. Sometimes I bake when I’m angry, and it helps to calm me down. Sometimes I bake when I have a special occasion coming up, and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I’m finished. There are those select times, however, that baking leaves me with a sense of utter frustration and failure – much like what I experienced last week.
This was a cake wreck by all accounts. I carefully read the recipe (or so I thought) before heading to the store to pick up the ingredients I was lacking. I was attempting to make Night and Day Cupcakes from what is quickly becoming my favorite cookbook, “How to Be a Domestic Goddess.” It seemed simple enough: a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese-ish frosting. Well, that’s where I was wrong. Not only did I manage to leave out an ingredient altogether (I’m blaming this on my sous chef, who clearly wasn’t paying attention), but I also didn’t read the recipe carefully enough. It called for SELF-RISING cake flour, and I just had the all-purpose variety on hand. In order to counteract the lack of leavener, I added about a teaspoon of baking powder. There wasn’t even enough batter to pour into a whole cupcake sheet.
When I took them out of the oven, the cupcakes had risen only slightly, and that’s when I also realized that we had left out the vanilla. I tried to cover up my mistake by making some delicious frosting, but it was too late; the cupcakes were already a disaster. I find myself to be a complete failure after this debacle, but I’m going to put that behind me and bake something even better this week (because quite frankly, I can only go up from here)! No pictures this time around - they just weren't worth it.
Night and Day Cupcakes
Courtesy of Nigella Lawson - How to Be a Domestic Goddess
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (scant)0
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (scant)
3/4 cup self-rising cake flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup very soft unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
12-cup muffin pan with paper baking cups
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 ounces cream cheese
Juice of ½ lime or tablespoon of lemon juice
Baking the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the cocoa to a paste with the boiling water and set aside while you make the cupcake mixture.
This couldn’t be easier (that’s a little encouragement from Nigella, not me): Just put the sugars, flour, eggs, butter and vanilla in a food processor and blitz to combine smoothly. Scrape the mixture from the sides and then pulse while you add the cocoa past and milk down the funnel. You should have a batter with a soft dropping consistency. If not, add a little more milk.
Dollop into the paper baking cups in the pan (about 1/2 to 3/4 full) and bake for 20 minutes, until an inserted cake tester comes out clean. Leave in the pan for five minutes, then remove, in the paper baking cups to a wire rack.
Making the frosting:
When the cupcakes are cool, make the frosting by beating together the sifted confectioners’ sugar and cream cheese until soft. Add lime or lemon juice to taste and then spread roughly over the waiting cupcakes. Stud each one with a chocolate-coated coffee bean or shave over some bittersweet chocolate.