Evil Yumminess in the Land of Giant Cupcakes

November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Baby Shower Cake

Filed under: Cake,Cupcake,Halloween,spice cake,Uncategorized — by queenofevilyumminess @ 11:42 AM
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Thank goodness this thing is done and eaten now! I always get so excited when I am asked to make a larger cake and want to make the most of the opportunity. This instance was no different. I was pretty much told I could do the cake however I wanted as long as it came out elegant and pretty. My friend was very happy with the end result, Yay!!!

The cake was a spice cake, thus all my overly obsessed blog posts regarding generating a good spice cake, with cream cheese frosting. The thing weighed about ten pounds, I swear! The bottom cake was a four-layer 9″ cake decorated like a basket. I added a candy pearl accent around the bottom and a peachy-pink ruffle around the top. On top of that there was a two-layer 6″ round and then the 3D pumpkin. I added mini cupcakes around the bottom for extra flare. I had originally intended to put the mini cupcakes on top of the bottom cake so that it looked like a basket of flower, but there didn’t end up being enough room on top of the cake to do so. I guess I should have measured or something to make sure that they would have fit. It worked out, though. I also used a ton of luster dust to give the cake some shimmer and shine.

Since I needed to fill in the empty space below the pumpkin, I whipped out a big flower-ish tip and plopped a bunch of flowers into that space. I didn’t like the effect really, but decided that if I added the luster dust it would be okay. I added some of the candy pearls, too, and it turned out looking nice.

I put both peach and white icing in a pastry bag and covered the 3D pumpkin with tip #18 drop stars. I started in the indented parts and worked my way out so that the shape would still show. The green on the top for the leaf, stem and vines got a treatment of luster dust, too, so that they would stand out some more. The pumpkin looked really, really sad without the green and pretty dang good with it.

I started icing this thing at around 7:30 pm Friday night. I took a short break (about 30 minutes) to get my daughter into bed and then dove right back into the cake. I finally finished the decorating, not including the mini cupcakes which I did the next day, at around midnight. I don’t plan to ever pipe cream cheese frosting again if I can help it. It is either too stiff or too soft. There is too small a window when the icing is just right to work with and I’m too impatient.

As I mentioned before, I think the cake weighed about ten pounds. Between the cake itself, the mini cupcakes, and the whoopie pies that I filled, there was 4 packages of cream cheese, 4 sticks of butter, and 4 pounds of powdered sugar. Plus, add in the weight from the different elements of cake and we are talking one dang heavy cake. I was so afraid I was going to drop it!

On another note, I really need to make a sign to put in the back of my car so that the poor souls that get stuck behind me when I’m delivering a cake know why I’m only driving about 4 miles per hour. I’m thinking something like, “Cake Delivery in Progress…SORRY!”

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October 29, 2010

Oh Dang…There Went the Flour!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by queenofevilyumminess @ 10:49 AM

My official story is that I was trying to decorate the house for Halloween…yep, that’s what happened. For sure. Did it on purpose.

I thought I would lead with the picture in this post. This is what happens when you are tired and clumsy. I had just filled the container with a bag of flour and was putting it away in the cabinet. It just never quite got to its destination. Instead, it tipped and fell on my head. The lid came off and the flour detonated…POOF!!! I stood stunned for a moment before the expletives began flowing freely from my mouth. You’ll notice that we have carpet in our kitchen, too, which made the whole mess that much worse. No easy clean up here. I had to vacuum for about an hour before that section of carpet resembled its usual color.

I should have known something bad was going to happen since I had just messed up batch of Pumpkin Creme Pies. As I was mixing the wet ingredients, I realized that I had added a stick of butter that didn’t need to be there. Force of habit is a very strong thing! I have already added the $2.00 can of pumpkin so I managed to fix my mistake. I added 1 1/2 cup flour, some extra spices, and an extra egg. Turned out good. There was no noticeable difference in the cakes and it made a zillion of them, which was nice since I was taking them to work the next day.  Anyway, having just had the butter issue I was not terrible surprised when the “flour incident” happened.

My vacuum hates me. My husband was surprisingly quiet on the matter. He must have figured that I’d already experienced enough for the day and took pity on me. I was really disappointed that the battery on my camera was totally dead. I was going to take a bunch of pictures, but since the battery was dead I had to use the camera on my cell phone (which sucks, by the way).

October 27, 2010

Mmm…(Translation: Whoopie Pies)

Yes, it’s true…”Mmm” now means Whoopie Pie. Growing up near an Amish community meant that there were almost always Whoopie Pies close at hand. They are soft, sticky, yummy cake sandwiches. If you’ve never had one, you don’t know what you are missing. Traditionally, Whoopie Pies consist of  marshmallow fluff sandwiched between domed circles of chocolate cake. Recently, I saw a post that Pioneer Woman had made on Facebook regarding some spectacular-looking Pumpkin Creme Pies. Normally, I’m not much of a pumpkin person, however, these looked fabulous and I HAD to try them.

I went to the store, bought the ingredients, waited for my husband to go to work (key step in the process), and got busy. The recipe was easy to follow, but requires that you pipe the batter in concentric circles onto parchment paper. No problem for me, but if you’ve never wielded a pastry bag before it might be a bit of a challenge. The end result was tastier than I could have ever hoped. I was hooked and so was everyone else that came into contact with them.

Once again, I didn’t take pictures of the process, but I didn’t figure it was really needed since the original information was pretty dang complete. I ended up with WAY more finished product than the recipe said it should make, but that’s a good thing, right!

I periodically window shop at Amazon.com for new and interesting cookbooks. Not too long ago, I had come across a book dedicated to the Whoopie Pie. The day after I made the pumpkin creme pies, I bought the book. The next day it arrive and that same day I was baking from it. The book is called “Whoopie Pies: Dozens of Mix ’em, Match ’em and Eat ’em Up Recipes.” So far, I’m in love with this book. It has a ton of recipes for both the pies and for the fillings, as well as lots of pictures.

I really wanted to make the s’mores version of the whoopie, but didn’t have ANY of the ingredients. So I opted for the oatmeal one. I’ve been searching for an oatmeal cookie recipe that yields are really soft, thick cookie. Since the cake part of a whoopie pie is usually very moist and soft, I figured that the oatmeal recipe in the book would get me what I wanted. It did, almost. The cookie was very, very soft and yummy, but it was pretty dang thin. After doing some research, I think it would have been thicker if I had chilled the dough for a little while before baking it. We’ll see. I definitely plan on making them again. I opted for a maple buttercream filling since I had recently purchased a small bottle of pure maple syrup at the Covered Bridge Festival. I also added some vanilla bean paste, about 1 teaspoon worth.

This time, I ended up with fewer of the finished product than the recipe indicated that it would produce. The book said it should make about 48 2-inch cakes, meaning 24 completed whoopie pies. I ended up with 16 completed pies. I used a 1 tablespoon scoop to keep the size uniform. One tablespoon was the amount suggested in the book to get the 48 cakes; however, it just didn’t work out that way. It worked out in the end, though, since the recipe for the maple buttercream out of the book only made just enough to fill the number cookies that I had made.

Once again, Mmm…

October 20, 2010

Spice Cake…The Quest Continues!

Filed under: Cake,spice cake,Uncategorized — by queenofevilyumminess @ 10:48 AM
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Being obsessed with making the old spice cake recipe a success (see Spice Cake…The Quest), I made yet another batch of cupcakes. I also had buttermilk which was going out of date and needed used. I hate going to the local grocery store, the only option in town for buttermilk, and having said milk be out of date in like three days. Very, very annoying, but typical small town life, I guess. Anyway, I decided to add ton more spice into the recipe. Here is the original recipe:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk (aka buttermilk)
1 cup raisins, chopped (which I omitted because I despise raisins)
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (I used allspice since I didn’t have nutmeg)
1 tsp soda in sour milk
2 large cups flour

The second time I made it (after having raided my mom’s spice rack), I used the following recipe:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp soda in sour milk
2 cups flour

I chose to replace half the white sugar with light brown sugar, hoping it would give the cake a richer taste. I added in the ginger, which made the cake taste a bit sweeter. Personally, I think the addition of the ginger made the biggest improvement on the flavor of the cake. This time, the cake was much darker in color, although still not as dark as the box mix cake. I didn’t take any pictures, unfortunately. This recipe was also not quite as intensely spiced as the box mix cake, so if you are wanting a really spiced cake, I would recommend adding larger portions of the spices. I would also recommend using cloves instead of just allspice. The allspice container says that 1 tsp of allspice equals 1 tsp of cloves, but I’m wondering if it would be better to use both 1/2 tsp of allspice and 1/2 tsp of ground cloves. I guess I’ll have to wait and try that the next time I make the cake from scratch.

Something else that occurs to me as I’m typing up this post is that some people may like (or need) the actual instructions for preparing the cake. I sometimes forget that not everyone is experienced enough in baking to NOT need the instructions. So, here are the instructions for how I mixed the cake.

  1. Cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer or stand mixer. Mix until light and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly eat time.*
  3. Add vanilla.
  4. Sift the flour and spices together into a separate bowl.
  5. Measure out the buttermilk and then add the baking soda to the buttermilk. Stir so that the soda is incorporated.
  6. Add 1/3 of the flour and spice mixture to the batter. Mix BY HAND** just until all flour is incorporated into the batter***. Then, add in 1/2 of the buttermilk, mixing again until incorporated. Repeat process, making sure to end with the addition of the remaining flour and spice mixture.
  7. Pour into a greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 degrees.

Please note: This recipe made only about 18 cupcakes instead of the usual amount of 24. So the batch is a little smaller than normal.

* Make sure that each egg is mixed thoroughly, meaning the batter shouldn’t be slimy looking, before adding the next egg. This is a good rule in general for preparing cake and cookie batter.

** I read somewhere that mixing in the flour and buttermilk by hand makes a difference in the texture of the cake. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but I choose to complete the mixing of the batter by hand.

*** I read somewhere, probably in the same place as the previous footnote, that it is really important not to add either buttermilk to a batter when then flour has not been totally mixed into the batter (and vice versa).

October 12, 2010

Spice Cake…The Quest

Filed under: Cake,Cupcake,Halloween,spice cake,Uncategorized — by queenofevilyumminess @ 1:32 PM
Tags: , , ,

My best friend is planning her sister’s baby shower and enlisted my services for the cake. The sister notified her that the baby had been craving spice cake lately. So, naturally, the cake for the baby shower is going to be spice cake. I’ve never made a spice cake before. I don’t like spice cake at all and have no idea what a good spice cake tastes like. Neither the sister nor my friend live near enough to me that I can have them taste test for me. Luckily, I have a long list of friends and co-workers which I can call upon to participate in a taste test of this kind.

I started searching on the internet and found a ton of recipes, but I decided to ask my mom to delve into her recipe book cache to see if you should find a old recipe that might work. When I got home from work, she had about six cookbooks of various origins and age sitting on the table for me. One of these books was a very old, musty, dirty binder with typed recipes. No name, no date, nothing. I asked Mom what the deal was with it and was delighted to find that I was holding my great-grandmother’s recipes. Apparently, her uncle had typed them up a very long time ago so that they would all be in one place. THANK YOU GREAT-UNCLE L!

This cookbook is old and the recipes in it are even older. Many of the recipes do not include instructions. Some of them do not even have measurements. They’ll just say, “add enough flour to get a stiff dough” or “add flour until you get a dough that you are just able to handle.” Temperature settings are more likely than not to be “moderate,” “slightly fast,” etc. Obviously these recipes were from someone who knew how to bake in the first place. Some recipes even instruct you to take the pan out of the fire. Nice, huh!

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to try the Spice Cake recipe and compare it to a cake mix to see which was better. Unfortunately, I did not own all the spices needed.  As I said, I don’t like spice cake, so I didn’t have nutmeg, cloves, ginger, or allspice. I went to the store and had a heart attack over the price of spices (once again). I decided to just buy the allspice and see how it went. Turns out, it wasn’t enough, but that comes later.

Being me, I had forgotten about the family weenie roast last Sunday until my husband came home at 2:30 and reminded me. He wasn’t sure if we were going to go until around 3:15 and at that point I didn’t have anything to take with us. We have to leave at 4:30. Perfect time to make up these spice cupcakes, right? I thought so. Also being me, I decided that I should be able to get two batched, one from scratch and one from a mix, baked and iced in an hour.  Imagine my distress when my hubby declared at 4:15 that it was time to go. I just laughed…he did not. I did get them done, but I was taking the last batch out of the oven when it was time to actually leave at 4:30. Hubby was annoyed; he hates to be late. I got enough of them iced using store bought cream cheese frosting (sad face) to take to the weenie roast. The rest I stuck in a container for later.

Now for the comparison…

On the left is my great-grandma’s recipe and on the right is the box mix. You can tell in the picture that one is much lighter in color than the other. The from from-scratch recipe was a little less moist, was spongier, and not as flavorful. the lack of flavor was expected, though, since all I used was cinnamon and allspice to flavor it. The box mix was moister and denser. It also smelled much better. So far, the reviews have been mixed. Some like one and some like the other.

I robbed my Mom’s spices and came away with cloves, ginger, and nutmeg, so I plan to do another trial on the recipe to see if it is any better. In addition to the extra spices, I plan to use a little brown sugar to see if that will help the flavor and color at all.

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk (aka buttermilk)
1 cup raisins, chopped (which I omitted because I despise raisins)
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp soda in sour milk
2 large cups flour

One can only presume to know exactly what this recipe means by “large cups flour.” I just measured it out like I usually do (Stir flour, spoon into measuring cup, and level with spoon). Just another joy in the quest for an excellent spice cake! This recipe only make 19 cupcakes instead of the usual 24, too.

By the way, I do NOT recommend trying to make two batches of cupcakes in an hour and expect to get them iced, especially if one recipe if from scratch. It was a sketchy business, to be sure!

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