Sunday, October 18, 2009

7th Birthday Cupcakes

When I was a kid, one of my favorite people in the whole world was my cousin Laura. She and my Aunt Jeanne Marie (whose wedding cake I just did last month) always let me hang out with them, even though I was 13 years younger than them.

A few weeks ago, Laura contacted me to see if I could make cupcakes for her daughter's 7th birthday. I can't believe she has a 7 year old already!!! I feel like I was just 7, hanging out with her and my aunt.

For her birthday, she wanted chocolate cake with frosting and "girly" decorations in her favorite colors - purple, green and blue. When I went to get started on the fondant decorations, I realized that all of my flower cutters were at my parent's house. Fortunately, I had just bought a set of butterfly cutters that I had at my apartment. I cut out butterflies from the purple fondant I rolled and also hand cut 7's. To add a little extra shine, I painted them with a purple luster dust paint (luster dust mixed with
lemon extract).

I dyed the vanilla buttercream green and blue and piped it into a swirl on the cupcakes. I sprinkled on
some tiny silver dragees and placed the butterflies and 7's on them. Considering I had almost no tools to work with, I was really pleased with the way these turned out.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cupcake Travels: Philadelphia

I love eating cupcakes that were not baked by me. Don't get me wrong; I think my cupcakes are absolutely the best, but sometimes it's nice just to go to a counter, order a cupcake, and be able to eat it immediately rather than the time and effort it takes to make my own.

If you read my posts about my trip to Australia, you know that whenever I travel somewhere, I research every bakery in the area I could possibly visit. Now, my friends have grown accustomed to this and preempt my search by sending me any bakery
news they come across. A few days before my trip to Philly in early October, my friend Vica (also my travel partner when in Australia) forwarded me a Daily Candy email about a new bakery that just opened, Flying Monkey Deuce. The bakery's online menu was amazing - there were so many flavors and I couldn't wait to try them all (or at least most of them).

Loved the tiny adornments - look at the flower on the raspberry!

On the Sunday of my visit, Vica and I took the long trek from my brother's apartment to Flying Monkey Deuce. We were a bit disappointed that there was a very limited selection of cupcakes left. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon, so I guess a morning rush had wiped out most of the available cupcakes. There were still a few to choose from and we selected vanilla/vanilla, chocolate/vanilla, chocolate/strawberry, and vanilla/raspberry.

Cupcakes cut up and ready to be sampled

The actual bakery itself was adorable. It was very retro and homey feeling. Not to mention they had this great connecting garden to the bakery where you could enjoy your cupcakes. As for the cupcakes themselves, I was a big fan of the vanilla cake. It was really moist and vanilla-y. I find vanilla cake to be the trickiest for bakeries to get right, and this was one of the best I've had. The strawberry buttercream (all their frostings were either an Italian or Swiss Meringue buttercream) was my favorite. I wasn't a huge fan of the chocolate cake; it was a bit dry. This is a bakery I would definitely recommend to my friends in Philadelphia, and I'm looking forward to visiting again (and hopefully getting to sample more flavors)!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Love Fall (And Apparently Pumpkin)

I know I've been negligent with my blogging lately; things have been very busy for me and hopefully within the next few weeks, I'll have a very exciting announcement to make which will explain partially what I've been up to.

My baking rack is set up for Halloween - I love those cake plates Kate gave me

With that out of the way, last week I made pumpkin spice cupcakes. Having never had pumpkin anything before, I was fairly confidant that I wouldn't like pumpkin, so I decided to make these to bring to work. With such frequent baking, it's hard to avoid gaining weight and I'm trying to do the best I can. Thus, I figured it would be best to make something I wouldn't be tempted to eat 10 of. This plan clearly backfired because pumpkin is apparently delicious. I know I've said this before, but I really think these were the best cupcakes I've ever made.

In the cupcake carrier

The cupcakes were a pumpkin spice cake I adapted from this Martha recipe. I paired it with a simple cream cheese frosting. While these were in the oven, my entire kitchen smelled like fall, which is my favorite season. The cake was incredibly moist, which probably has something to do with the pumpkin. It was a really wet batter, which I was initially concerned about, but it baked beautifully. You can bet these will be on my table for Thanksgiving this year.

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