So today I’m going to deviate from craftiness for a bit and it might be a bit longer than usual…I hope that’s ok.
Most of you might know my lovely online friend Jess of Jesstagirl and Her Officer, and if so you know she is hosting a cupcake Bake-N-Blog today. What most of you may not know…is that I really dislike cooking. To the point that while single I mostly lived off of sandwiches, fruits, and cereal (with vanilla soy milk). I can cook, I just get very little enjoyment out of it…especially since that means I have to clean it all up later. Armed with that knowledge it probably makes sense that I’ve never…ever…baked anything from scratch. Then… I met a boy. A boy who L.O.V.E.S baked goods, especially those made fresh from quality ingredients. Thankfully the boy actually enjoys cooking so he typically is the one to whip up fresh muffins or things of that nature. I always have big plans to bake him a nice birthday or anniversary cake but it seems something always comes up that keeps it from happening. So, when Jess posted her plans for the Bake N Blog I decided I would use the long holiday weekend (one when we had guests coming in from out of town) to try my luck at baking from scratch. When I told the hubs of this plan he looked puzzled, and maybe even slightly concerned!
We were to pick a cupcake option from the amazing looking options from Ming Makes Cupcakes, bake ‘em, and post about them. So here we go!
My one warning is I’m not going to post a correct “food blogger” type post, because me baking is a comedy of errors.
and I chose…
On Friday I printed off the recipe, checked over the list and left work just a bit early to pick up all the ingredients. I made it home and took everything out ready to hit the ground running, only to realize I had forgotten butter… and crushed pineapple. We went out for margaritas instead. They were yummy! *random question* Does it seem odd to anyone else there is crushed pineapple in carrot cake?
On Saturday morning we got up, quickly finished preparing the house for guests, and then ran down to the perimeter area really quickly. We needed to meet up with Jess & Kenny (who were in town that weekend) to pick up something we were buying from them and to pass off the Cupcake Flags that one of her lucky participants will win! Guess what? We still forgot to pick up butter but did get the crushed pineapple (and yes I still found it an odd ingredient and asked several people if they agreed…they just thought I was odd).
On Saturday afternoon I finally decided I had put off baking for too long, I mean I’d already talked up the fact I was baking us dessert….from scratch. There was no backing down at this point, so I drove down the road and came back with butter. Smart Balance butter that is. There was some general concern this might not be baked good worthy, but oh well. I pressed on!
To get started I needed to clean and grate 2 cups worth of carrots. We recently purchased a set of new micro-plane graters, and threw out the larger one we hated. This might have been a mistake.
(No clue why I focused in on the patent number of the grater…but in case you were ever curious it’s 5100506)
Maybe this is where my lack of baking comes into play…but I totally under-estimated how many carrots that would take. OMG! I felt like I cleaned and grated a thousand carrots, and apparently I have no idea what I’m doing because there were pieces of carrot all over my kitchen by the time I finished. I even found one on top of the dog’s head an hour or so later. Then I measured out the flour and added it to the bowl with my beloved little carrot shreds
At this point, I was getting a little cocky. I was thinking, this is a piece of cake *pun intended*. This was misguided thinking…because it was at this point I realized we didn’t have a full 1/2 cup of canola oil. So….I made an executive chef decision. I would use a bit of vegetable oil to round out the 1/2 cup necessary for the recipe. This is the point my husband rolled his eyes and headed down into the basement. I often tell people just how smart my hubby is, and while I am typically referring to his ability to process complex equations in his head…this was one of those moments where he decided it was best to say nothing. Good job B! So, I mixed everything together…and thought it looked NASTY!
However my little dollar bin Paula Deen cupcake wrappers were all kinds of cute!
So, I setup my cupcake pan with the liners, and then popped these bad boys in the oven. Honestly, I was fully expecting them to explode while baking!
(See that mess in the bottom of our oven?…I’d like to point out I had nothing to do with creating that!!)
So, they baked in the oven without incident and actually looked like they might be halfway decent. I mean they weren’t “pretty” but they didn’t look deadly either. I set them out to cool on a cooling rack and started on the cream cheese icing.
This is where I was all confident in my abilities… Another bit of random trivia is that my mom decorated wedding cakes throughout my childhood. I’m talking about those HUGE 80’s cakes, with 500 layers and columns. So, while the oven might not be my friend…cake icing and I go way back. You won’t be able to tell in these photos but I can actually do a decent job with the decorative icing when I practice a bit and have the right tools. Sadly, I did not practice and the right tools are still eluding me after my move into the house (2 years ago). I also have no photos of this process because by this point my FIL had arrived and was watching me with great amusement and much heckling (but that’s what makes him my favorite FIL. EVER).
Long story short, I mixed up the icing and it tasted wonderful! Then because all I could find was the tip of the decorating set, I used a large ziplock bag instead. I just snipped the tip from it and added my decorating tip inside and filled it up with icing. The tip started to move around so I had to hold it in place while icing at the same time. Not my decorative crowing moment for sure…but icing ended up on top of the cupcakes so I call that a success!
Then the moment of truth…how would they taste? Remember I had mixed two types of oil, used smart balance 50/50 blend butter, and ended up with some really runny batter.
AMAZING! Even the resident food snob agreed, this recipe was a keeper! He’s even looked over Ming’s options and placed his order for the next cupcake baking attempt.
My Thoughts Looking Back:
- I would actually check what I have on hand before making my list instead of just guessing.
- I would have filled the cups with a little less batter so they ended up more rounded and less flat.
- I would have doubled the icing recipe. I felt like I cheated some of the cupcakes in the icing department because I was running out…although we love cream cheese icing so we might be the only ones who feel more icing is better.
- Once refrigerated they tend to get a bit “sticky”…they are still yummy though. I wonder if this has anything to do with my oil mixture?
- I’m glad I gave baking a try and maybe I’ll do it again later.
The question now might be…did you enjoy it? I wasn’t miserable, and I did get cracked up at myself a few times. However, I still wouldn’t say I had “fun”. I loved the outcome, but you don’t have to worry about this becoming a food blog! Crafting is still 99% more enjoyable to me than baking
Am I the only one out there that doesn’t enjoy cooking? Please tell me I’m not alone? Also tell me which cupcake we should attempt the next time I’m feeling like battling it out with my oven!