How to Feign Pastry Chef-dom…

Recently, I decided it would be fun to start baking.  Maaaany years ago (when I was newly married) this was also an interest, albeit brief.  I went so far as to buy all of the supplies I needed, and then they just sat, unloved, in my kitchen.  To be fair, this was a venture in cake making which is a MUCH bigger undertaking.  There also was not nearly as much information as readily available as there is now.

In order to avoid causing my husband a small stroke, I’ve been “investing” a little here and there.  This time, it’s not for financial gain.  Our girls got it in their heads that it would be a fantastic idea to open an online bakery.  I decided to at leas look into it…but Florida decided to throw a wrench in the works.  Under their cottage laws, I’m not allowed to make any more than $15k annually and all sales have to be person to person.  So, idea sufficiently scrubbed.

The next best thing was to entertain it as a hobby.  The girls are more than happy to do this.  They now get to play in icing and decorate cupcakes ’til the cows come home.  Today, I decided to forgo the girls altogether and make my big girl cupcakes since they consistently turn their noses up at the flavor combination.  But, to make a long story short, I really can’t bake.  Enter Lizzy from your cup of cake.

Making the Batter

I don’t know who of you has or hasn’t visited her site, but her recipes are super easy AND fast!  I’ve made numerous recipes from her site and always receive great feedback.  People actually seem to think I can bake.  This is my secret. Now, obviously you can read, and I’m sure you can follow the recipe on your own.  I just do a few things differently.

***This recipe calls for freeze-dried strawberries.  I have had success finding these in Wal-Mart.  If your local Wal-Mart carries them, they’d be with the dried fruits or fruit snacks.  You will also need a zester!

  • Find the recipe: In this case, I’m using one of my favorites.  It’s a strawberry lemonade cupcake.  These cakes are spring/summer epitomized!  They taste fresh and bright.
  • Gather all of your ingredients and preheat your oven.  It will only take a few minutes to mix everything together.  Honestly, it can’t get any easier than doctoring a boxed mix.  With 5 kids at home, I need all of the time-saving anythings I can get.  **If you want to, let your eggs sit for up to 30 minutes at room temperature.  This is supposed to make it easier to incorporate everything.  I’m just not that patient.
  • Line your cupcake pan (I’ve used greaseproof liners) and fill your cups according to Lizzy’s directions.  I found this Cake Boss cookie scoop at Michaels and used a 40% off coupon.  This saved me a little over $6, so a pretty painless purchase.  While not technically a cupcake scoop, it worked out perfectly for me.

Liners

Time to Bake!!

This is where the fun starts 🙂  My girls are always trying to sneak a peek in the oven to see if they’ve started rising.  I always let them cook for 10 minutes undisturbed before I check on them.  After that, I will check in 2-minute intervals to make sure they’re cooked to my liking.  I don’t usually leave them in the full amount of time.

After your cupcakes are in the oven, pull out your butter.  Depending on how cool your house is, you may need to set it out sooner.  I find, for me, this timing allows for the butter to be soft enough to start the icing.  I don’t usually start it so soon, but I know now that I can wrap it in plastic and it will stay soft until I’m ready to use it.  

To Ice or Not to Ice…

Once those babies are done baking, put them STRAIGHT in the freezer!  Forget what you’ve heard about cooling on a rack first.  Let them chill for at least 30 minutes.

Now to start the icing.  Your butter should be soft enough to leave a fingerprint, but not so soft it’s losing its shape.  Once your icing is finished and you’re foaming at the mouth, it’s now time to “wrap” your icing.  Note, if you make the full recipe for icing, it would be wise to split the batch in two so it’s not an overwhelming amount to work with.

Cupcake trio

I found an awesome tutorial on YouTube that shows how to fill your piping bags.  Game changer! Now I can do it alone instead of bribing my girls to hold the pastry bag pen long enough to load it up.  In her video, she doesn’t use a tip.  If you are going to, cut the tip off of your bag and drop your tip directly in.  Proceed as instructed.

You can either spread or pipe your icing on using any number of tips, styles or methods.  Since I’m still pretty new to this, I’ve stuck with the start tip and doing the bakery swirl.  A quick Google search should yield numerous results.  If you don’t already have the know how, choose your favorite instructional and prettify your cupcakes!

Cupcake all

Sorry for the super repetitive pictures.  I couldn’t choose!  Photography is yet another thing I’m a newbie at so it’s a work in progress 🙂

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9 comments on “How to Feign Pastry Chef-dom…

  1. Brandi this is a gorgeous post, and I can assure you that baking gluten free is not anywhere near the task it once was! We’ve been a gluten free family for six years now and we eat just as well as we ever did thanks to clever pre-mixes and ingenuity! I love the look of these cupcakes, and freeze dried strawberries? Well I never! I’m off to find some! Just beautiful…love, Mimi xxx

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