Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Cupcake Pans and cupcake baking tips

I have been doing some cupcake baking research lately since I had a recent batch of cupcakes ( to be blogged soon!) that didn't puff up with the nice dome that I normally strive for. So I tried to figure out why this happened. Was it because I didn't fill with enough batter? Did I over mix? Were they under baked and shrank when cooling?  So I decided to look around online and see what people had to say about how to achieve the perfect dome on scratch baked cupcakes.

One of the first items I found was ingredient order. Some sites said to not do the typical creaming of the butter and sugar at first, if you are using a butter sugar method. One of my favorite sites, Cake Journal has an excellent tutorial HERE about this method. I have recipes which do the creaming butter and sugar first method, some add melted butter later and some are with oil and no butter at all. The recipe that instigated this research was a butter and sugar creaming first recipe.

Another method is oven temperature. How long the oven is preheated. Not just get it to 350 Deg F and pop in the pans but really heat the oven for a while. Is there an oven thermometer inside the oven to ensure that the oven is indeed at that temp? Are there hot or cold spots in your oven?  Some people rotate pans halfway through baking to make sure the cupcakes bake evenly but opening the oven door can cause cupcakes to fall flat. At least doing so before 15 min of baking and a lot of my cupcake recipes are done at about 15 minutes. 

One the subject of oven temperature I found on Cake Central message boards that many bakers start out with a higher oven temp for preheating and then lower once the cupcakes are in either immediately or after 5 minutes of baking. Some bakers start at 400 deg F and drop to 350 deg F, other bakers start at 375 deg F and drop to 325 deg F. And it depends on the oven too. Electric tend to take longer to drop down in temp than gas do - but it depends on the oven

Another factor could be your leavening agent's age. How old is that baking powder/soda? Older powders might not be effective anymore. Try to keep as fresh as possible. And when a recipe says to have ingredients at room temp have everything out of the fridge and measured out and on the counter for a while. Maybe a couple hours ( unless in the middle of a 100 deg summer!)  And when the batter is ready have it sit 15-20 min to let that baking powder start its magic. Once that time is up bake the cupcakes and see if that helps.

And another factor I found out about is pan color. I read that lighter colored pans don't produce cupcakes with the nice dome as well as darker pans do. The darker pans heat quicker and keep the heat more even. So you know what I did today??  That's right. I bought NEW cupcake pans. I have two sets of cupcake pans. One pair is a darker metal that is from Baker's Secret that I have had FOREVER, and the other is a lighter aluminum from Wilton. The Wilton pan's cups are smaller than the Baker's Secret pans so I have more issues with my cupcake paper liners buckling. The Baker's pans are larger cups and take more batter. So for a recipe yielding a dozen cupcakes I would get 9 maybe 10 out of that pan.

Baker's Secret pan on the left, Wilton on the right

I have been discussing this with my friend Stephanie over at Sweet Creations by Stephanie and she sent me a pic of her pans she had. They are Wilton pans, but darker than the ones I have. She raved about them so I ran to Bed Bath and Beyond today and picked some up. 4 of them to be exact. With coupons of course. And I cannot WAIT to bake with them.

I like how there is more of an edge on each side to grab the pan without sticking a hot mitt right into  a freshly baked cupcake ( or batter if heading in to the oven) and these are heavy too. Heavy is good.  Plus they just look nicer than my old ones. My old pans are being retired and I will use them as flower formers for my gumpaste and fondant flowers. 

The pans can be found HERE . I just so happened to have time to run to Bed Bath and Beyond today to get them and was stoked they had them. But obviously they can be ordered online as well. I will be experimenting with the other techniques I mentioned above and will report back soon with my results. I have lots of fun things I have been making lately and will be blogging a lot more soon.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kakes by Kristy

A friend of mine and co-worker has recently started baking cakes and cupcakes and has been making some amazing creations. She started out wanting to make her kid's super cool birthday cakes that not only look good but taste great too ( she makes everything from scratch including her own marshmallow fondant aka mmf) and has ventured into making cakes for friends, family and other co-workers. So please "add" her to your blog list and check out what she is making. 

She is self taught for the most part and I think for the short time she has been creating cakes she is doing an AMAZING job!!

You can check her out here:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's day!!

Happy St. Patrick's day!!  

I didn't have time to make cupcakes for today so these are the one's I made last year and I loved the way they turned out so I am  sharing again!!  Have a great St. Patrick's day - drink some green beer, eat a green cupcake!!

The original post of these can be found 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Blog Changes

Hi All!!
I am going to be making some changes to my blog. Nothing major, yet. First off I have a new print feature at the end of my posts, thanks to my unofficial blog IT friend, Steph, from Sweet Creations by Stephanie, she is my go-to for all my blog help because she knows more about it than I do! ha ha. And she added that for me. So if you want to print one of the recipes I have posted you can do so now! It will print the whole post and you have the option to include pictures or not, I am trying to work on having just the recipe print instead of the whole blog post. So that should be coming soon.

Also I am going to be changing my format a little, simplifying the background, adding some new features and I also own my domain name of and will be switching to that shortly. Everything will still be going through blogger so you don't have to go and follow my "new" blog, it will automatically redirect.

So thanks for being great blog followers. I love all your comments and I try to answer as quickly as I can. I also have some new fun cupcake recipes I am going to be making soon, and I have been teaching myself how to make gum paste and fondant flowers so stay tuned!!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Coconut Lime Snowball Cupcakes

I am a bona fide coconut-aholic. I seriously love anything and everything that has to do with the coconut. And with the exception of the sugary shredded coconut and the uber sweet coconut cream used in Pina Coladas, coconut is amazingly healthy. The oil alone has numerous health benefits, and even though it has gotten a bad rap in the past for being a saturated fat its a GOOD fat, an essential fat, one that I consume daily. But not in cupcake form although I wish it was a cupcake a day keeps the doctor away. But it could very well be some coconut a day keeps the Dr away. But until that happens for sure lets just concentrate on these little goodies. Coconut lime snowball cupcakes. A few bites of tropical cupcakey goodness during the rainy cold dreary winter almost soon to be spring season.

 I think I might have been a south pacific islander in a former life because of the flavors and foods I love. Coconut and lime is one of my favorite combos and the two ingredients is in many island dishes as well as south east Asian such as Vietnamese and Thai, two cuisines I adore. I recently discovered an Asian superstore here and have found some awesome ingredients that aren't at a normal American grocery.

 Chaokoh is my favotrite brand of canned coconut milk and the super store carries the Chaokoh coconut cream which is awesome for Thai green curry. This is the full fat coconut milk. I don't use the light when baking.

 I love my lime squeezer. Like really. I am a kitchen gadget freak and my drawer is getting very crowded. I might have to renovate my kitchen just for all my gadgets.

 Making the lime curd. Lime zest, freshly squeezed lime juice, sugar, egg yolks and butter

 My curd ended up a little lumpy before straining because I had the pan on my back burner while cooking so my kiddo didn't reach up to a hot burner on the front since she was trying to help me and some of the egg scrambled which I couldn't see until I pulled the pan off the heat to add the butter. So it is very important to be able to SEE inside the entire pot when stirring the curd to make sure none of the egg is sticking to a side you can't see and end up scrambled.

 Straining it out to make sure none of the scrambled egg made it in

 The egg yolks and butter made this look more like lemon curd since the lime is such a light green

 Stirring in the zest. I think I had a wee bit more than what the recipe called for.

 Now it looks more like lime than lemon curd

 The recipe says to chop the shredded coconut even more. I was busy trying to take a cool pic and then I realized I just dumped the coconut it, I didn't chop. Oops

I use organic evaporated cane juice instead of regular white sugar. I like the flavor better and I try to keep my ingredients organic and minimally processed as possible. This type of sugar doesn't yield the nice light fluffy mixture when whipped with butter as regular white sugar does but that never affects the texture or taste as far as I can tell.

 So my toddler wanted to help "bake" and to keep her slightly out of trouble I give her a bowl with flour and water and this time she wanted some oats. She makes a fantastic mess and can seriously stay busy for an hour this way. Also I told her if she wanted to help me she needed to put her apron on like mommy has on and she was all excited to wear it. And make a mess.

I have no idea where my kid learns to make messes from

 I am on the hunt for thicker white cupcake liners. Mine are so flimsy and the always buckle like this when I fill them with batter. Makes me mad. Well not too mad but still. Its annoying

You can see that a few of the paper liners buckled.

 All baked up. The coconut smell was so awesome and you can see the little pieces of coconut.

 I used my trusty apple corer to cut out the middle to fill with the curd

 All filled with the lime curd. The curd is awesome, tangy and not too sweet. Perfect match for the sweet coconut cupcake and frosting

 At first I was going to attempt the nice smooth big BLOB of frosting and after several failed attempts ( I swear I am going to figure it out one of these days) I decided to just smooth it out a little with a spatula because I was going to be covering them in coconut anyway

 Lovely coconut lime cupcakes

Now you know why they are called snowball cupcakes. They look like snowballs ready for a fight. Except I wouldn't throw cupcakes just snowballs

 These aren't the fanciest cupcakes I have made. But they are so tasty that simple is better

You can see the coconut in the cake. I like the texture of the shredded coconut and am totally willing to make these again with chopping it even finer to do a comparison.

I had to snap this picture before all the curd oozed out!!  These were great freshly made and just as good if not better chilled to firm up the curd and then thawed slightly to soften the frosting.


Coconut Lime Cupcakes with lime curd filling and coconut swiss meringue buttercream frosting.

From Shelly Kaldunski's "Cupcakes”

 Coconut Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter ( 1 stick) at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract ( I used coconut extract instead for extra coconut flavor)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup shredded coconut roughly chopped ( can be sweetened or unsweetened)
1  large egg plus one large egg white at room temp


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees line a standard muffin pan with paper or foil cupcake liners. In a bowl whisk your dry ingredients including the coconut.  In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add egg, egg white and extract and beat until smooth.  Add flour mixture in three additions alternating with 2 additions of coconut milk.  Beat on low and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Divide the batter into the cupcake pan filling 3/4 of the way up each liner.  Bake 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then carefully turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely for at least an hour before filling and frosting.

Lime Curd

4 egg yolks
6 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons lime zest
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons of butter cut into 4 pieces

In a saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, lime juice and salt and cook over medium high heat stirring constantly so it doesn’t boil.   When it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon take it off the heat. Whisk in each piece of butter one at a time until it is melted in. Pour into a mesh strainer over a bowl and scrape the curd through leaving and solids behind. Some of the egg yolk does end up cooking so this way you don’t have pieces of scrambled egg in the curd. Stir in the lime zest and place a piece of plastic wrap over the curd to keep a film from forming and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes 2 cups enough to pipe on 12 cupcakes or spatula on 16 cupcakes

3 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
pinch salt
2 sticks of butter at room temp cut into 16 pieces
2 tsp coconut extract

Using the bowl of your stand mixer add the egg whites, sugar and salt and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water on the stove. Make sure the bottom of the mixer bowl isn’t touching the water. Whisk the mixture until it feels slippery to the touch( all the sugar has dissolved) and is 160 deg f on an instant read or candy thermometer. This takes about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl and place on mixer immediately start whisking the mixture using the whisk attachment and slowly go from low to high speed. Whisk until the bowl is cool to the touch( room temp) and the egg white mixture is fluffy and hold stiff peaks. The mixture should not look dry. It will be glossy like meringue. This takes about 6-7 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides. With the mixer on medium add the butter in 1-2 pieces at a time until all the butter is incorporated. Scrape down the sides and get any stuck pieces of butter out of the whisk. Beat on high until the frosting comes together. If it gets soupy looking just keep whisking. Stop to scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl. Optional switch to the paddle attachment for this step and beat on low to get rid of any air bubbles. Add in the extract and beat again until fully mixed in. Keep at room temp if using that day. If not keep in fridge for 3-5 days and thaw about 30 min at room temp and beat slowly for about 5 minutes before using.

This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled whatever. Just depends on the size mixer you have. If you have a commercial Hobart then you can make a TON of frosting. Also you can customize to any flavors you want. Instead of coconut you can add vanilla or any other extract you like, melted and cooled chocolate for a chocolate buttercream using milk, white or dark chocolate, add in caramel and some sea salt for a salted caramel buttercream. Really the possibilities are endless!!