Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Adventures in Baking

I really really should be packing/cleaning/exercising/doing anything but this, but as usual, the creative muse has struck at the least opportune moment. And I must share. I can't help it, it's a force I simply cannot control.

I love to bake. Love it.  If I could do it for a job, I would. But let me be the first to tell you, I am NOT Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, or the Pioneer Woman, by any means.  Some of my best baking efforts began with a Duncan Hines brownie mix. That said, I haven't had too many complaints on the finished product.

As usually happens when I am at home near my mother's fully stocked, well-lit kitchen, I got the urge to make something today. Fortunately, I have a brand new cupcake recipe book I've just been dying to try. The recipe? White Mountain Cupcakes. Have a look:
Chocolate Sour Cream cupcakes with meringue-like white frosting. mmmm.

Everything started out well.  Assembling the ingredients and mixing things together, substituting things like bittersweet chocolate for unsweetened chocolate because I'm far too lazy to go to the store. And stopping every ten minutes to take pictures because I like to pretend I'm a food photographer. Like so:
Every good food photographer takes pictures of partially chopped chocolate bars.

The delicious batter in Mom's trusty KitchenAid.

Hard at work! Bet you weren't expecting an action shot. Well, I aim to surprise.

As taking pictures every step of the way is rather time-consuming, it was a good hour before anything got in the oven. Ever the conscientious kitchen worker, I did the dishes while the lovelies baked. It was when the oven door opened again that I got a sneaking suspicion that this would not turn out like the picture.

Hmm. Are those delicate, fluffy cupcakes or giant exploding mushroom-like brownies?
Turns out you aren't supposed to fill the muffin tin to the tip top with batter.

Then I turned to the icing instructions.  I saw the words "separated egg whites" and "stiff peaks" and balked.  As all mature adults do in time of crisis, I promptly put down the recipe book and went and played Tetris until my mother came home.

Upon her return, I bravely faced the Food Network challenge again under her calm instruction.  After wasting half of a carton of eggs, I finally learned how to separate yolks and whites.  We poured the ingredients into the top half of a double boiler (yet another new age contraption I learned about!) and plugged in the electric mixer.  After a few seconds of whipping things into "stiff peaks", I glanced over at the other half of the double boiler simmering on the stove. This is what I saw:

Ok, I'm exaggerating.  It was more like a few plumes of smoke, gently curling up from the cord of the electric mixer.  Turns out I plugged it in and without thinking, stretched it across the open flame of the stove to the bowl on the other side. As generally happens when it comes in contact with fire, the plastic cord began melting through to the wire beneath. Fortunately I screamed, turned it off and Mom switched off the stove before we had a real electrical fire on our hands.  Some may say it was cutting off the source of the flame that stopped the fire but I know it was the force of my scream that halted nature at work.

Having ruined Mom's hand held mixer and every conceivable way of making meringue frosting, I gave up entirely and went with powdered sugar. Thus the finished product looks nothing like the picture in the book. Compare:

Guess which one is mine.

And so, household fires notwithstanding, I managed to make cupcakes that were passably delicious, though not at all what I had in mind. Plus, I still managed to take many sub-par food shots of the finished product.

All in a day's work!


  1. I've never been so proud to be "Mom" before! Finding humor in the situation will serve you very well. The cupcakes were scrumptious! xoxoxo from Anonymous Mom

  2. Send me the recipe, dear cousin of mine!!! I want to try them here at home... :D

  3. A little tip I've learned: adding 1/4 cup flour to recipe will help the cupcakes "dome" when filled to the top. They come out quite stunning. xoxo

  4. funky cupcakes > no cupcakes for all real scenarios.

    and no one likes martha stewart or others that good at the domesticities. insider trading hussy.
    fo' sho'.

  5. I think your pictures (with the lovely china plate) look better than the picture from the recipe. I've gotten to the age (old vs. new?) where a dusting of snow is more appreciated than copious drifts, if you know what I mean. (I was going to write "if you catch my drift" but it seemed a little overdone.) Anyway, thanks for the cooking/damage control lesson and a few laughs to boot. (Or maybe I should say overshoes, since there weren't any drifts to get through!) You win! Best wishes in the kitchen and beyond! MA (initially, MM)

  6. Saw your mom's f/b blurb and wondered what had happened. Hilarious!

  7. @Hannah: will email it to you soon, darling! Maybe you will have more success than me. :)

    @Christina: thanks for the tip! I definitely used too much batter in each spot but I'm sure that would have helped.

    @Jillian: as always, you give me comfort in that I am not a white collar crook. many thanks.

    @MA: haha this must be Maureen. thanks for the compliments (and the wordplay) :)

    @Anita: yeah, glad Mom can laugh about it, even though I ruined her mixer!


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