Saturday, March 31, 2012


I was never a fan of icing. Even as a kid, I would take the piece of cake from the middle, because it had the least amount of the sugary goo. And I never liked cupcakes, as they were half frosting. I'd only eat the plain ones, and even then, they had to be plain vanilla, because I hated getting chocolate in my teeth. (have I mentioned here that I was a weird kid?)

And then, suddenly in my 20's, cupcakes were everywhere. Even as I unwittingly toed the waters of Douchey Hipsterism, I sneered at the confections, casting them off as another douchey hipster food trend. Like Indian samosas or anything Ethiopian.

But, now that I'm older, jaded, and way less apologetic, I realize that, yeah, I am a mostly a douchey hipster.

And that I effing love cupcakes.
But this is all thanks to the Absolutely Lovely Back in the Day Bakery Old Fashioned Cupcake. Seriously. You've never had a cupcake with better substance or texture. And you can eat like, a dozen before you get sick to your stomach.

book and plate, both full of Nom's
Mandy recently sent my mom a copy of the cookbook from Savannah's favorite bakery, and I'll admit: it's the first cookbook I've read from cover to cover. Typically, I'm not into cookbooks--I see them as judgement in print form, glaring at me and speaking in a language I don't understand (math), while showing me beautiful pictures of tasty delicious treats that I'll never be able to make--I'd rather learn to cook by actually cooking. Which is something my mom is willing to oblige, and why I'm happy to cook with her, even though I'm much happier just to eat what she cooks.

However. The Back in the Day book is quite approachable, like that awesome teacher in high school who would let you eat in class and take naps as long as you had an A. The recipes seem complex, but are broken down and very easy to follow, teaching you invaluable cooking and baking tips along the way (and the fact that the authors are masters of wit and charm doesn't hurt). So when I came across the recipe for the cupcakes and icing that I fell in love with a few weeks ago, I literally jumped up to make them. 

So, pretending to be a professional baker, and following the wisdom of the Days, I cubed my butter and set out the eggs to get them room temperature.


The mix calls for "cake flour," which I'd never used before, and didn't have, and since I hadn't changed out of my pj's all day and it was raining, and I was nursing a miserable sinus headache, I couldn't motivate myself to sit the 25 minutes of traffic just to get the store 7 miles away (haaaay, NoVa). So I took my mom's advice and checked out her Joy of Cooking book to see if there was an equivalent in flour I could use.

My mom's had this cookbook since she was 17. It's basically become a little a food treasure chest and something of a diary, and I love it.

I find the notation ironic, considering the recipes she learned from this book have stood the test of time, but the marriage lasted 2 years. Cooking lasts, guys.

aw, a baby supplies list.

I love this quote.

apparently the book caught on fire at one point...
I also found this "Diner Menu" that I drew up in the 4th grade tucked in the pages

Yeah, I couldn't spell until the 6th grade.
Anywho, I convinced myself to go the Professional Baker Route, and went out to buy cake flour. Success! I got home and proceeded to make a huge mess. And some cupcakes.

Baking with Audrey the 6 year old

the world's best butter cream frosting
ACTION SHOT. also, that's my childhood apron. aw.
what happens when you over-fill your cupcake cups. #lesson learned

Commander Landmass at the Cupcake Helm

what happens when you try to frost with non-room temperature icing. #morelessonslearned

Area Man Enjoys Cupcakes

woooo, Back in the Day sprinkles (#fangirl)

I ate 5 or 6 in 20 minutes, saved some for my friends at FireHaus, and then fought my parents off for the rest. They're really addictive. Like, "it's after midnight and I don't care, I want to run upstairs and make some more" addictive. mmmmm...

Whatever, looming bikini season. It's cupcake season.

Old Fashioned Cupcakes with butter cream frosting
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cake flour (not self rising)
1 1/4 unbleached, all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder (preferably aluminum free)
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (regular salt will work)
1/2 (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 cubes, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 recipe butter cream frosting (following)
sprinkles, if desired.

-position rack in lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat the oven to 350*F

-line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners

-in a large measuring cup or small bowl, mix together milk and vanilla, and set aside

-in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer) combine both flours, the sugar, baking powder and salt and mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly combined

-with the mixer on low speed, at the cubed butter a few pieces at a time, mixing for about 2 minutes until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

-with the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

-turn the speed to low and gradually add the milk and vanilla, then mix 1-2 minutes

-remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, incorporate any ingredients hiding at the bottom of the bowl, making sure the batter is completely mixed

-with a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into prepared cupcake cups, filling each cup 2/3 full (editor's note: can't stress this enough)

-bake for 20-25 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean

-let cool for at least 20 minutes

Butter Cream Frosting
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
6-7 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
liquid gel food coloring (optional)

-in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a hand held mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes)

-add 4 cups of the confectioner's sugar, the milk, and vanilla and mix on low speed until smooth and creamy (2-3 minutes)

-gradually add up to 3 cups more sugar, mixing on low speed until the frosting reaches the desired light and fluffy consistency (3-5 minutes)

-if desired, to tint the frosting, add a drop or two of food coloring to the frosting, mixing well; add more coloring as necessary until you reach the desired shade. If you want multiple colors, scoop the frosting into several bowls, then add the food coloring

-the frosting can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 2 days.

*editor's note: if you leave butter out for an hour before you start baking, it will reach room temperature. When it's ready, you will be able to leave a finger print on it, but it should still be on the firm side. For eggs, but them in a bowl, add hot water, and carefully swirl them around for 1-2 minutes. It's really important for your ingredients to be at room temperature, otherwise your ingredients won't bind together correctly, and you get dry, crumbly cupcakes.



Mandy said...

I love your mom's old cookbook! And those cupcakes! Great post!

Kim said...


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post... and I want to make these cupcakes now!

I also love how 4th grade Audrey spelled bottled water with a "Bawdamore" accent. ^_^


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