That’s it. I’m not a baker.
Louise, one of my friends from church, told me on Sunday that if baking the cupcakes was stressing me out and adding too much to my plate right now, I just shouldn’t worry about it. In the back of my head I thought, Did she taste one of my cupcakes? Was it so bad that she’s lovingly trying to discourage me from even bothering?
If you read Our Blessed Easter Weekend, Part 2 (the blunder edition) and then the update in A Video and the Cupcakes, you know that this past Sunday was my fourth attempt at really, realllllllly trying to succeed in making fluffy cupcakes.
At this point, to improve upon the Better Homes and Garden recipe, I’ve added an extra egg, left the eggs and butter out for hours to be most definitely at room temperature, and invested in some cake flour to swap out for one cup of the regular flour. Trying to be scientific about my approach, I’m keeping careful track of all of the changing variables so as to know where to make additions and subtractions.
As I was beating the butter and sugar, I asked Brian to crack four eggs into a bowl for me, making sure that there weren’t any shells. The recipe says to incorporate one egg at a time, so I usually just plop in one yolk and the surrounding white, beat it into the batter a little, then pour in the next one, etc.
Brian returned the bowl to me having effectively whisked the eggs together, scrambling them as if I was making an omelet.
New variable taken into consideration.
Then I noticed, upon rotating the pans halfway through, that the cupcakes towards the outer edges weren’t cooking at the same speed as those in the middle. Granted, this oven is as old as the house (scores and scores old!) and doesn’t even have a window, so it’s no surprise that the thing might finally be putzing out on me.
Additional variable taken into consideration.
And lastly, my timing was sabotaged when Brian cut off my kitchen timer to set his own timer for his pork chops. Even if the cupcakes HAD turned out, I would have had no idea how much time was the perfect amount of time.
So, no, they still weren’t fluffy and I couldn’t feel more obsessed.
Must purchase a new oven.
The problem with needing a new oven isn’t so much the cash that I’ll have to fork out for that one appliance. No, it’s the major project that we’ll need to undergo as I truly – in my heart of hearts – really want a gas range. Presently, we have electric. It will be incredibly ironic if my intentions to save on the church hospitality budget by homemaking cupcakes results in the costly overhaul of my kitchen.
But… that’s probably exactly what’s going to happen.
Well, because it has occurred to me how much I hate not being good at something. Generally, by either A) following directions or B) practicing once or twice, I can master just about anything. Many a client has found out about one or two of my hobbies and exclaimed, “What DON’T you do?!” Cupcakes apparently is the answer to that question.
I can sing, cook, knit & crochet, write, design, make roman shades, photograph, start a fire, birth a baby, make hair bend to my will, teach, craft, coupon like a champ, endure a nine hour tattoo session, blah blah blah… Coming from a girl who made straight A’s in school, I know that theses aren’t even B- quality cupcakes. (And if you’ve ever met a straight A student, if it’s not an A, it might as well be an F! Do you feel me?)
So it’s personal now. My pride is at stake here. And ultimately, I might end up having to swallow it right on down with my dense cupcake.
No, I’m definitely a cook. What I like about cooking (and designing/coloring hair, too), is that it ain’t over until it’s over. If you have a little taste from the stovetop and find that your sauce is lacking, it’s not too late to add a pinch of this, a dash of that and – voila! – perfection. But with baking, once it’s in the oven, you can’t sneak a taste halfway through. Nope. All you can do is shut the oven door and pray it comes out well.
Sorry to bore you with the details of my cupcake mania, but…well… it’s going nowhere until I can bake a fluffy cupcake from scratch.
Ironic indeed. 🙂
I was *just* thinking about you and cupcakes yesterday– I have a thought that might help. When you mix the wet and dry ingredients together, be careful NOT to overmix. When you combine wet and dry ingredients, just barely mix them together. Also, your oven might not be the correct temperature– you can check it with an oven thermometer. Finally, look at this recipe from Joy of Baking (I really like this site for baking recipes, by the way). The recipe details exact steps to make a light, fluffy, and moist cupcake (you can even lean the history of the cupcake too!)
Take note of this: “The batter is mixed using the ‘creaming’ method which produces a cupcake that is light and airy with a soft crumb.”
I’ll check into it. Thanks, Aubrey!
I can relate to this post. I’ve had two attempts at angel food cake that have fallen flat and dense, when the cake should be fluffy! Good for you for continuing to experiment. I decided I can buy angel food cake from now on and focus on trying recipes for other baked goods to add to my repertoire.
And yes, I feel ya on the not getting an A may as well be getting a F. It’s hard to break out of that mentality but I try!
Thank you for relating!
Baker here. I can’t cook. Maybe we should meet.
I’m all ears.
Why is it necessary to bake a cupcake from ‘scratch’. Is it more creative to follow someone else’s recipe to the letter than use Duncan Hines’ or Betty Crocker’s? Until you bake enough to invent your own successful ‘twists’, I would suggest starting with the disreputable (I know it’s not really cooking!) box and putting your talents toward beautifying the resulting soft, moist cake.
Why is it necessary? Well, originally it seemed to overall be less expensive to make cupcakes from scratch than by several boxes of cake mix every week (it’s not always on sale!). That’s where it began. But now it’s just necessary because I want to win.
one of the very few things that i ever agreed with my mother on is that if God had intended us to bake cupcakes from scratch, He wouldn’t have invented Duncan Hines.
of course i doctor the mix (adding spices or coffee or whatever), but i see no point in doing something from scratch if Duncan hines already does it brilliantly.
please note that the above does NOT apply to cheesecake, right, Donna? 🙂
Amen on the cheesecake! 🙂
I suppose that for me the reason to master it is simply because it can be mastered by somebody. And if somebody can do it, why shouldn’t I?
What a great post and discussion! Now I will have to try a cupcake at church 😉
I have to say that, Suzy, your cupcakes are always yummy, even when you “mess em up.” I’ve tried so many times to make cakes and cupcakes from scratch, but they never turn out as light and fluffy as they do when I use a box mix. I find that I can be super creative when I take a basic box mix and then jazz it up with different flavors, fillings, and frostings. I have a few books that have hundreds of cake and cupcake recipes that start with the box mix. AND they taste like those expensive cupcakes that you find in the local cupcake shops. Let me know if you ever want to take a peek at them.
Oh, trust me, I know what you mean. I have the BEST cupcake recipe from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook. It’s scrumptious and doctors up a cake mix. A winner every time. But I’m presently obsessed with the scratch concept. I mean, professionals don’t doctor up box mixes, do they?
The one person in my office who has been chosen to make cakes for all parties and special occasions (we have about one-hundred employees), and get paid for doing so, doctors up a mix. Moist, dense and delicious. We all run when he bakes.
Seriously, we have to talk. Don’t understand difference in using recipe created by ‘unknown’ usually vs. using a box. When I cook, I create my own recipes almost exclusively. I use others for inspiration at times, but never follow their instructions exactly. When I bake, I stick to the text. For instance, brownies from a box…no way. Make from scratch from recipe changed multiple times over generations (all in the family:) Fudge, the same.
Not cupcakes but I have never strived to make the gourmet version. Good luck and God Bless with results.
The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn is excellent. I have one or two of them you can use if you want.
I won’t refuse your help, but I can’t promise that I won’t keep at this mission either.
I posted the recipe for the donut muffins on my FB page; look for it. I used butter, not margarine.
Good. I don’t believe in margarine. I’m intrigued by this recipe!
LOL. I know exactly how you feel. This oven makes me crazy at times. Oh well, I just work with what I got. You win some and you lose some.