Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blueberry Muffins with Ricotta and Lemon

Not everything I bake is totally unhealthy. Not that I'm saying cupcakes are BAD for you necessarily, but I do bake a lot of healthy items too. I just don't normally add them to my blog since this is mainly a blog about cupcakes. But these were SO good I had to share. I am a huge blueberry muffin fan. In fact I have like 15 different recipes I make and I almost always modify them to make them as healthy as possible. Like all whole wheat flours, less sugar or alternative sweeteners like honey or agave syrup. Sometimes I add in flax or wheat germ, apple sauce instead of oil, etc.
Since I still had my leftover buttermilk I decided to go back to this recipe that I found from  
Week Of Menus blog and I made these yesterday with a few modifications.

I LOVE fresh blueberries. Not in season just yet but I found some at Trader Joe's and they looked too good to pass up. I am so glad I bought them. Even my daughter ate a TON. She is quite the blueberry fiend
The recipe called for a little bit of butter which I kept in. Sometimes if you modify too much the recipe doesn't come out quite right

I used normal lemons this time instead of Meyers and zested and juiced them. There is a huge difference between freshly squeezed juice than bottled but bottled juice and lemon extract can be substituted for the fresh juice and extract if you don't have any fresh lemons on hand
I love my citrus juicer. Another of my kitchen gadgets I use often

The recipe also calls for ricotta cheese and since I loved the way the ricotta turned out in my lemon ricotta cupcakes I knew that it would work great here. When mixing together I was a little worried about the texture it looked almost curdled but I knew it was just the ricotta and not something gone awry. The scent from the lemon zest and juice in the mixture was awesome. I also subbed agave syrup for the sugar. When using a liquid sweetener like honey or agave you sub 2/3 cup for every 1 cup of granulated sugar, decrease your other liquids by 1/4, decrease oven temp by 25 degrees and increase baking time by 6-8%. The liquid sweeteners tend to burn quicker so you want to keep the temp lower for even baking but bake longer so that they aren't gummy inside. The agave also had a part in the texture of the wet ingredients looking a little grainy. It doesn't cream together with the butter quite as well but it is a low glycemic all natural sugar not refined like normal granulated white sugar.
I also used all whole wheat pastry flour instead of half whole wheat and half all purpose. Sometimes when subbing all whole wheat the texture can be heavier and drier. But with the ricotta and juice and buttermilk I knew that I could get away with all whole wheat. I also like using the whole wheat pastry flour better than regular whole wheat. Its a finer grind and acts more like all purpose. My favorite brand to use is 
Bob's Redmill . I use a lot of products from this brand. And no I am not getting paid to talk about it. Just a product I love to use.
Once the wet ingredients were all mixed I added in the dry ingredients by hand not with my mixer. Its very important to not over mix the batter or else they come out stiff and dense.
Folded in those yummy blueberries and I used a little more than the recipe asked for. I LOVE blueberries. Did it tell you that already? ha ha

You can see the pieces of lemon zest in the batter before they went in the oven
And fresh out of the oven
Nice and golden brown
I don't know why but I never use liner or baking cups with muffins. I always just spray the pan with cooking spray. I always use them with cupcakes but not muffins. I can't tell you why but its just what I have always done!

Blueberry Muffins with Ricotta and Lemon 
Adapted from Week of Menus blog

Makes 18 standard size muffins

3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 large eggs room temp
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp unsalted butter softened
2/3 cup agave syrup
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 cup blueberries fresh or frozen ( if frozen don't thaw before using - they will turn the batter blue!)

Preheat oven to 350 deg, rack in middle of oven. Line pans with 18 muffins liners/baking papers or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray.

In a stand mixer or bowl using a hand mixer cream together the softened butter and agave syrup. It won't get super creamy like butter and granulated sugar. Just make sure the butter is soft enough so it mixes together well. Add the ricotta cheese then the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest.

In another bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Gently fold in the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing just to get it all incorporated and don't over mix. Gently fold in the blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the 18 muffin cups

Bake for 20-30 minutes ( mine took 25 minutes) or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven to cool for 5 min. Then gently remove muffins from tin and cool on wire rack.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes with Meyer Lemon Buttercream

I was going through my fridge the other day to see what kind of ingredients I had leftover from some recent meals I have made ( stuffed shells, whole wheat buttermilk pancakes the doughnut muffins) to see what I could make. I had ricotta cheese, pumpkin ( which ended up being no good) buttermilk and something else can't remember what it was now. Any way. I was thinking pumpkin lasagna but discovered the pumpkin had taken a turn for the worse so that was out. And I didn't have lasagna noodles anyway. I thought I would just research recipes with ricotta and buttermilk. 
First recipe was this one from Week of Menus blog using both the ricotta and buttermilk, the second was from Culinary Adventures of a new wife blog which look good too. My friend Stephanie made them and they are posted on her blog : Sweet Creations and she said they were the BEST blueberry muffin she's ever had. So I was going to make those but since I had just made a "muffin" type recipe, well sort of, the doughnut muffins were way more cupcake like than muffin, I decided to go the cupcake route. Back to the search engine drawing board.
I was thinking I like the sound of lemon and ricotta and I came across a few recipes. The only problem was that they were all measured out in grams and well we here in America like our measurements in CUPS. So luckily for me I have a food scale, which I HIGHLY suggest every home baker own one. I will never measure out flours via the cup method ever again. Always by weight. The only thing missing from my kitchen was lemons. Ran to the store to get a few other items and I saw Meyer lemons on sale. I love lemony goodies I LOVE Meyer lemons. A little smaller and sweeter than normal lemons. I grabbed them up.
They almost look like little tangerines.

I am also a kitchen/baking/cooking gadget JUNKIE. I wanted to get a zester also so I did. I normally use my microplane for zesting but since this is an actual lemon zester I wanted to try it. The Meyer lemons are a lot softer than lemons so I ended up using my microplane or else I would still be zesting and not blogging.
Way more orange looking than a lemon. So good!
Another one of my gadgets - my lime squeezer. Another highly recommended item. Gets ALL the juice out and is perfect size for the Meyer lemons. Photo courtesy of my husband who caught the droplet of juice. Cool.

One gadget that I use almost on a daily basis is my kitchen scale. I have be doing a lot of research lately into the science of baking and what and how and why the type of flours used are best. I'm kinda nerdy that way. And I have learned that doing the spoon and level into a measuring cup method can actually result in too much flour and can make baked goods much more heavy and dense and even gummy. So the best way is to sift into a bowl sitting on the scale to get EXACT weight in grams or ounces or even POUNDS depending on the recipe.

Once I got all my ingredients set out the recipe came together very quickly. At first I thought the ricotta was going to make the batter gooey and heavy but it didn't. It was silky looking
you can see the pieces of zest in the batter before baking

And after baking. These smelled AMAZING

I also made a Meyer lemon buttercream to frost these with. I used my Ateco 172 tip which is similar to Wilton 4D. This frosting tasted sooo good. 

 I sprinkled with yellow jimmies which I think added a nice touch. There is zest in the frosting as well which is kind of hard to see in this pic.

One with a little extra frosting swirled high for the hubby!

Recipe adapted from lemon ricotta cupcakes
The original recipe came from Australia so I am showing it in the original in grams and my conversions with ounces and cups

Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes ( orginal made 12 I doubled the recipe)
400g all purpose flour ( slightly over 4 cups or 14.1 ounces)
300g castor sugar( bakers or superfine sugar 1 1/2 cups or 10.5 ounces)
300g fresh ricotta cheese ( 2 1/2 cups)
240 g butter( slightly over 1 cup or slightly over 2 sticks) melted and slightly cooled
2 large eggs
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
Juice and zest from 2 medium lemons or 4 Meyer lemons ( 4 tbsp juice, 2 tbsp zest)

Preheat the oven to 350 deg and set rack in the middle of the oven. Prepare two cupcake pans with either grease and flour or baking cups/liners
Sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside. ( I measure the flour out into a bowl on my food scale as I sift it)
Using a stand mixer cream eggs and sugar 2 minutes until pale. Add in the melted butter, lemon juice, zest, ricotta and extracts until well mixed on medium. Slowly add in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Mix again on medium for 30 seconds. The batter should be smooth and silky
Spoon the batter into the tins about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20-25 min until golden or the tops bounce back when slightly pressed or a skewer comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 min then remove the cupcakes and cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Meyer Lemon Buttercream recipe
My own recipe

3 sticks of butter, softened or at room temp
4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tbsp meringue powder ( optional - this helps keep the frosting stiff for piping. Not needed if not piping on)
2 teaspoons heavy cream
dash of salt - if not using salted butter

Cream the butter on medium in an electric mixer with either the paddle attachment or whisk. I personally like the whisk for nice fluffy frosting. Add in the sugar one cup at a time until incorportated then mix on high a few seconds to fluff. Repeat with the rest of the sugar a cup at a time. Add in the zest, juice and salt. Beat on high once all is incorporated and fluffy.

I used unsalted butter and added in salt. My only salt I have is sea salt in a grinder so there were some larger flakes which I thought tasted great with the tangy sweet frosting . I would get little zingers of salty with the sweet and sour. Really good in my opinion!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cake Decorating Classes

I have been a baker for as long as I can remember, always helping my mom in the kitchen when I was younger to finding new fun recipes to try. I love baking all kinds of things from cakes, cookies, pastries and of course cupcakes. Over the past few years I have been concentrating more on cupcakes. I had always wanted to take cake decorating classes but never had the time to do it. Finally our schedules made it possible, that and the instructor at our closest Michael's moved her courses to a day I could attend. I took the Wilton Cake Decorating Course 1 and 2 before the instructor moved to California. So no more classes until they hire a new instructor.
Course 1 taught basics and flowers such as the Wilton Rose

Here is my final cake from course 1. Since I took the class in December our instructor allowed us to do a holiday themed cake
I had made a red velvet cake ( from a box mix I don't suggest that the cake itself was nasty tasting) and a cream cheese buttercream frosting. This was more for decorating purposes than for taste.

There are TONS of classes available all over and I highly recommend taking one. So much fun and even someone who has never decorated before can look like a pro in no time at all
To find classes you can look at your local Michaels or JoAnns. Usually the bigger stores offer more classes. You can also look online at
 Cake Decorating Classes where you can find a wide varitey of things all about cake and cupcake decorating from local classes to books to online courses and even find other cake enthusiasts.
So get out there and start decorating cakes its so much fun and so tasty too!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Portland cupcakes meet up at St Cupcake

Today was the Cupcakes Take The Cake meet up at St. Cupcake in Portland Oregon
I had a friend of mine see this upcoming event on their calendar and I wanted to attend and meet Rachel Kramer Bussel, the woman from that blog that had posted about my Valentine's cupcakes earlier in the week. Not only was she super nice but I also met a group of local bakers, cupcake shop owners and other women in the cupcake business. One woman's business is the fancy cupcake wrappers cupcakes are set into after baking.
Here is Rachel and myself posing in the bright sun ( I apologize for my lack of tan - don't stare directly at my arm it might blind you!) with a tiny cupcake. I am also over 5 months pregnant in this pic!
You can see my crazy daughter's reflection in the background
It was really nice to have met her and thanked her in person for posting my cupcakes on her blog. She was super nice and I am really glad I came to the event

And since we were at St. Cupcake we had to sample the goods
We bought a sample of minis or "dots" as the shop called them
We tried peanut butter and ganache frosted, chocolate cupcake with fudge, chocolate cupcake with cream cheese, chocolate with chocolate buttercream, vanilla with chocolate buttercream, carrot cake, coconut cream and chocolate with vanilla buttercream
Hands down our favorites were the coconut cream and the chocolate with vanilla. Soo yummy
And what a gorgeous day to be sitting outside making new friends in the baking world trying new yummy cupcakes!!

Doughnut Muffins

It's a doughnut. No wait its a muffin. But it looks like a cupcake! WHAT IS IT?!?
Why its a doughnut muffin!! A what?? Yes its a muffin that is baked like a cupcake but tastes like a doughnut.
I was having a discussion the other day with my friend Kaysie, who is an excellent cook and she loves my baked goods and I told her one of the things I wanted to try next was homemade doughnuts. She told me she had a doughnut muffin recipe that's killer and they're baked in the oven so none of that scary giant pot of hot oil for deep frying. So I looked up some recipes on Google when I got home  and found tons. I saw this one from Baking Bites
and another from this site: 

And decided to go with the recipe from fine cooking because I wanted to make a TON of them not just ten of them. I will add the recipe in at the end of the post.
The recipe started out with lots of butter, sugar and eggs

Then once creamed the wet and dry ingredients get added in alternately and stirred by hand
This is a stiff and sticky batter/dough so stirring was a good workout!
Once the batter was smooth but not over mixed it was time to fill the tins
I am so used to using cupcake liners so it was odd for me to grease and flour the tins but it is an important step so they pop right out of the tins once baked
I made the HUGEST mess doing this. Flour all over me, the pans, the counter, the floor- well you get the idea. But I got the pans covered evenly and that's what matters most

First batch ready for the oven

I got 30 muffins out of this recipe not 24 like stated so I made 6 of each of my kinds I wanted to make sort of like assorted doughnuts so I made 6 of them jelly filled
filled with strawberry jam and then topped with a little more batter

Hmm I guess I didn't take any pics of them fresh out of the oven. Moving on

I set up my topping station while the butter melted ( I forgot to mention how low fat these are NOT!)

powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, superfine sugar for the jelly ones, vanilla and chocolate glazes

And sprinkles for the glazed ones
Painted on just a touch of melted butter so the toppings would stick

Rolling in cinnamon sugar
superfine sugar for the jelly ones
dunking for the chocolate glazed ones

Here are the cinnamon sugar ones
powdered sugar
Jelly filled with superfine sugar
vanilla glazed with sprinkles aka non pareils
And the chocolate glazed with sprinkles aka jimmies
all packaged up like a box of assorted doughnuts - yet they're a muffin!!

Here is the recipe:
For the muffins:
12 oz. (24 Tbs.) unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 lb. 11 oz. (6 cups) all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1-2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
For dipping:
8 oz. (16 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more as needed
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs. ground cinnamon

To make the muffins Put a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. In a stand mixer or a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just mixed in. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Combine the milk and buttermilk. With a wooden spoon, mix a quarter of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Then mix in a third of the milk mixture. Continue mixing in the remaining dry and wet ingredients alternately, ending with the dry. Mix until well combined and smooth, but don't overmix. Grease and flour a standard-size muffin tin. Scoop enough batter into each tin so that the top of the batter is even with the rim of the cup, about 1/2 cup. (A #16 ice-cream scoop gives you the perfect amount.) Bake the muffins until firm to the touch, 30 to 35 min.

To finish Melt the butter for the dipping mixture. Combine the sugar and cinnamon. When the muffins are just cool enough to handle, remove them from the tin, dip them into or brush them all over with the melted butter, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar or plain sugar

Vanilla glaze recipe
4 tbsp butter softened
2 1/2 - 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-6 tbsp whole milk
mix the butter and sugar together with hand or stand mixer, add the vanilla and the milk a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you want.
For the chocolate variation add in 4 oz of melted chocolate either semi sweet or bittersweet. Can be bar chocolate or chips and add to the vanilla glaze

MY NOTES on the recipe: I baked them for about 25 min in my oven. I am thinking my oven runs a little hotter but my little thermometer I had inside my oven broke so I have to get a new one. I checked them at 25 min and they were done. I didn't want to over bake since these are denser and  drier than cupcakes to begin with.  I also made my vanilla glaze a touch too runny and I think clear vanilla extract would be better so it stays a whiter color. I dipped the vanillas first then added the rest to the melted chocolate. The chocolate got pretty stiff it was more like a frosting than glaze. I found a recipe that mentioned keeping the glaze over a pan of hot water ( sort of like a double boiler) to keep it more glaze like and easier to dip. The taste is awesome though!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I've been FEATURED!!

I was scrolling through my blogs list and looking at ideas for future cupcakes and I came across MY cupcakes on Cupcakes Take The Cake. Holy S#&T!!!  I wanted to scream but my kid was napping in her room next door and we all know how cranky kids can get when they don't get their naps.

Here is the link

I am humbled and honored. This is freaking awesome!!

Recipe : Italian Meringue Buttercream

Here it is by popular request. The recipe for the buttercream I use as my go to frosting for most things I bake. It is from Warren Brown's book Cakelove. There is also a youtube video of Mr. Brown himself demonstrating it. I highly recommend watching it - helped me out since the directions can be a little confusing at first. I can now make this recipe without consulting my book. Its memorized now baby!!

Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting
Yield: 4 to 5 cups (enough for one 9-inch-round three-layer cake or 24 cupcakes)


  • egg whites (large), 5
  • extra-fine granulated sugar, 10 ounces (1¼ cups) separated into 1 cup, 1/4 cup
  • cold water, ¼ cup
  • unsalted butter (at room temperature), 1 pound (4 sticks) ( make sure not too soft but out of fridge for 35-45 min)


1. Set out the ingredients and equipment.
Separate the egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment.
Measure 1 cup sugar and the water into a 1-quart, heavy- bottomed saucepan. Gently stir to combine (I use the candy thermometer for this).
Measure the remaining ¼ cup sugar into a small bowl and set aside.
Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces and set aside in a medium bowl.
2. To make the sugar syrup, place the candy thermometer in the saucepan and heat the mixture over medium-high heat. Partially cover with a lid to capture the evaporating water—this helps to moisten the sides of the saucepan to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
3. With the mixer on high speed, begin whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks. When the peaks are stiff, you have a meringue.
4. Keep the mixer running and pour the ¼ cup of sugar into the meringue, and keep whipping
5. Raise the heat under the sugar syrup to bring the syrup to 245°F, if it is not there already. When the syrup is at 245°F, remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup into the meringue.
6. After 1 to 2 minutes reduce the mixer speed to medium-high for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the meringue is cooled. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the mixer speed to high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the butter is fully incorporated.

Flavor Variations:
The following flavorings can be added to the base recipe for Italian Meringue Buttercream:
Vanilla: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate: 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Rum: 2 to 4 tablespoons (to taste) dark rum
Amaretto: 2 to 4 tablespoons (to taste) amaretto
Raspberry: 1/4 to 1/2 cup raspberry puree ( same with strawberry)
Lemon: 2 tablespoons limoncello
Orange: 1 teaspoon orange oil
Lime: 1 teaspoon lime oil


EQUIPMENT: standing mixer, 1-quart heavy-bottom saucepan, candy thermometer

My notes : if the mixture gets soupy once the butter is added thats NORMAL. Just keep that whip going on HIGH and it will come together. I promise. I have had troubles with Swiss Meringue Buttercream having it never come together but this I promise you it will. You will hear a change in the sound once it comes together

Also leave at room temp IF you are using the same day. Otherwise put in an airtight container and pop in fridge until ready to use. Thaw at room temp for 30-40 min and whip again for 5 min on LOW speed.
This frosting tastes best at room temp. Its creamy, buttery and not overly sweet like some powdered sugar based frostings can be. But straight out of the fridge it tastes well more like butter. Hey some of you might not have the patience to wait the 30 min for frosting taste perfection. I know I haven't been able to before.

Also this makes A LOT of frosting enough to pipe giant 1M swirls on cupcakes with some leftover. I would say its enough for 40 cupcakes not 24. 

Any questions feel free to post! I am more than happy to help out!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Cupcakes

Ahh Valentine's Day. The overrated Hallmark Holiday. Also singles awareness day for my single friends. I am not a sappy need flowers and candy kinda girl. So to me Valentines day is just another day. In fact I told my husband I am glad he didn't get me anything. I just like spending time with my loves, him and my kiddo and my baby on the way. BUT. I still LOVE to bake and any excuse to bake is a good one. So I wanted to come up with my own version of something Valentine's themed, sort of a play on something. You see lots of chocolate dipped strawberries and since those are so good I figured hmmm why not try it in cupcake form. Since ya know I am allllll about the cupcake. So I came up with a chocolate cupcake, strawberry italian meringue buttercream and then dipped them in chocolate like a Hi-Hat cupcake. SO GOOD!

So I started off with making my strawberry puree for the buttercream
Just chopped fresh strawberries and a little caster sugar mashed them up really good

Strained into a bowl to get rid of the seeds

And then chilled so it wouldn't melt the buttercream
I made the EXACT same cupcake as the chocolate cupcake in the chocolate mousse cupcakes so I'm not posting any of those pics because I didn't take any. So lets just get straight to the good part. The frosting

I just LOVE Italian meringue buttercream. The flavor is so smooth and not overly sweet like some frostings made with powdered sugar can be. This is best served at room temp so its not overly buttery tasting since its well mostly butter! This is my usual italan meringue buttercream with 1/2 a cup of the cooled strawberry puree added in and a drop of pink gel color the strawberry puree was so light when added in and I wanted a nice pink color for the Valentine's theme I was going for

I piped on swirls with just a pastry bag and a coupler. I wasn't too worried about perfect swirls since they were going to be covered in chocolate. Just going for more of the hi hat cupcake look. I chilled the cupcakes to set the frosting so it wouldn't melt and or fall off when I dipped in Chocolate

Next I melted some semi sweet bakers chocolate in a double boiler with a few tbsp of canola oil so it would stay melty and thin enough for dipping

Here is a side by side of the dipped and non dipped. It was easier than I thought and luckily NONE of the frosting fell off in the chocolate
The chocolate cooled to a matte look instead of shiny which I thought looked pretty cool. I chilled again to set the chocolate.

Here is one cut in half ( duh).
They taste amazing. 

Here is the recipe I used for the cake part
From Warren Brown's Cake Love:
Yield: two 9-inch round cakes or 24 cupcakes



  • unbleached all-purpose flour, 7 ounces (1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons), or 7¼ ounces (1¼ cups + 3 tablespoons) at high altitude
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 ounces (½ cup), or 21/8 ounces (½ cup + 1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon) at high altitude
  • baking powder, 1½ teaspoons, or 1 teaspoon at high altitude
  • salt, 1 teaspoon


  • half and half, 1 cup, or 1 cup + 2½ tablespoons at high altitude
  • brandy, 2 tablespoons
  • vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon


  • unsalted butter, at room temperature, 6 ounces (1½ sticks)
  • extra-fine granulated sugar, 14 ounces (1¾ cup), or 13 ounces (1½ cups + 2 tablespoons) at high altitude
  • eggs (large), 4, or 5 at high altitude


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (conventional) or 335°F (convection). Set the rack in the middle of the oven. For cupcakes, set racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions.
2. Set out the ingredients and equipment:
Sift the flour directly into a bowl on a scale for accurate measuring.
Measure the other dry ingredients into a separate mixing bowl, add the flour, and whisk for 10 seconds to blend. Set aside.
Measure the liquid ingredients into a separate bowl and set aside.
Measure the butter and sugar into separate bowls and set aside.
Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on the lowest speed for 3 to 5 minutes.
4. With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.
5. Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move swiftly through this step to avoid overworking the batter. Don’t wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next. This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.
6. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl all the way down. Don’t miss the clumps of ingredients hiding on the bottom of the bowl. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batter’s structure.
7. Prepare the pans. For 9-inch-round cakes, line the bottom of each pan with parchment; do not spray the sides. For cupcakes, lightly spray the pan with a nonstick spray to help release any overflowing crowns. Line the pan with paper liners.
8. For 9-inch-round cakes, deposit the batter in three separate areas of each pan and smooth out with the rubber spatula or an offset metal spatula, making sure the pans are two-thirds full. For cupcakes, use a 2-ounce, trigger-release, ice-cream scoop to deposit batter into the lined pans so they’re two-thirds full.
9. Follow the approximate bake times listed below.
ITEM: 9-inch rounds - at Sea Level, bake 28 minutes; at High Altitude, bake 35 minutes.
ITEM: cupcakes - at Sea Level, bake 22 minutes; at High Altitude, bake 20 minutes.
10. Once the top of the cake doesn’t jiggle in the center, test for doneness by inserting a bamboo skewer in the center of the cake. An even dark brown color should extend from the edge to the center, and the cake’s edges may pull away from the pan. When the skewer shows just a touch of crumbs or comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a heat-resistant surface or wire rack.
11. For 9-inch-round cakes, cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes, before removing from the pans. Use a small offset spatula to loosen each cake from the rim of the pan. Carefully invert each pan onto a flat surface and remove the layers. Remove the parchment from the bottom of each cake and wrap the cake tightly in plastic. Refrigerate the layers for up to 5 days before frosting. (See page 200 for more information on layering and assembling.)
12. For cupcakes, cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes, before carefully lifting each cupcake from the pan. Proceed with frosting or store for later use.