You know how some cookbooks are not just full of great recipes, but they are also really great to read? Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple is like that. It’s a baking book written by two American guys who own a bakery in London, and it’s one of my favorite books to just pull off the shelf and look through. It’s also great for when you finish all the books you borrowed from the library, and you have nothing else to read, and you must read something before going to sleep. (I’m not the only one who does that, right?!) Not only is it filled with the most incredible-sounding recipes (most of which I want to make), but the photographs are gorgeous and the writing is actually entertaining and fun to read. I’d to thank my friend Shannon with all my heart for introducing me to this book!
Despite owning the book for quite a while, this is the first thing that I’ve actually made from it. I was flipping through it a while back, and decided that I must make the cranberry cupcakes this fall. After waiting for what seems like forever, fresh cranberries are finally available and I was able to bake them up. I have to say, both the flavor and the texture of these was spot on. Even with a whole bag of cranberries these weren’t too tart, just fruity. And they weren’t dry at all (dry cupcakes are pretty much the worst thing ever).
I know that pies and cookies tend to be the traditional baked goods for this time of year, so if you don’t want to break with tradition, you could make these for somebody who has a birthday during the holidays. Or turn them into mini cupcakes to put onto a dessert buffet for a larger party. Or make them just because.
Cranberry Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream
For the cupcakes:
2 cups (340 g) fresh or frozen cranberries (1 12-ounce package)
2 1/2 cups (380 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 /2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
4 large eggs
2 cups (450 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (240 ml) grapeseed oil (or other flavorless oil)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 cup (225 g) sour cream
1. preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups with paper liners.
2. Place the cranberries in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, and pulse about 6 or 7 times, until finely chopped. Set aside.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
4. Put the eggs and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 2 to 4 minutes, until the mixture thickens and lightens. Stop sometime in the middle to scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure there are no eggs hanging out at the bottom of the bowl not being mixed in. Turn the mixer to low, add the oil, vanilla, and orange zest, and mix until combined. Keep the mixer on low speed, and alternate the flour mixture and the sour cream in 3 to 4 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until only just combined; you should still see some streaks of flour throughout.
5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the cranberries into the batter with your rubber spatula. This will also finish mixing the batter, without over-mixing it.
6. Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop, fill each liner with batter until about 2/3 full.
7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through to ensure even baking. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean and the tops are golden brown.
8. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the orange buttercream:
3 cups (525 g) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup (175 g) unsalted butter, softened
1. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until almost combined. Add the softened butter, a little at a time, and then increase the speed to medium-high. Beat for 5 to 6 minutes, until light and fluffy.
2. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.
Makes somewhere between 26 and 28 regular-sized cupcakes.
From Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple, by David Muniz and David Lesniak
Only one recipe in and I’m so happy I added this book to my baking/desserts cookbook collection, because it’s pretty darn awesome!