Cranberry Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream

Cranberry Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream

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!

Cranberry Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream

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

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!

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Mini Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Pistachio Frosting

Mini Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Pistachio Frosting

Lately it seems as if every other blogger I follow has been baking with, cooking with, or simply just extolling the absolute greatness of the Meyer lemon. And it has been making me feel guilty. Why? Because I have a Meyer lemon tree in my backyard, and I hardly ever use it. I feel so shamed.

I guess when it comes to desserts, we’re generally not big lemon people. And for savory foods? I hate to admit it, but when I’m trying to get dinner on the table with a toddler hanging around my legs I usually just grab the bottled stuff. Horrible, I know. But sometimes easy is more important than perfection. (And I vow that once said toddler is older/in school I will use more fresh lemons rather than bottled lemon juice.)

Mini Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Pistachio Frosting

But I decided that it was time for me to jump on the Meyer bandwagon and use some of them, hence these cupcakes. These are so moist and delicious! I topped them with a frosting that I’ve made before and absolutely love—the pistachio frosting from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook (which, by the way, is one of the most crazy-awesome baking cookbooks ever). The lemon and pistachio combination is fantastic! And since I feel that cupcakes always look best with a garnish, I made some candied Meyer lemon peel to top them off with.Candied Lemon Peel

Mini Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Pistachio Frosting and Candied Lemon Peel

Mini Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons grated Meyer lemon zest

1/2 cup whole milk

1) Place a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line mini muffin tins with paper or foil liners.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest, beating until well incorporated.

4) Add half the flour mixture, and mix on low speed until almost incorporated. Add the milk and blend. Add the rest of the flour mixture, and mix until almost incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and finish incorporating the ingredients by hand with a spatula.

5) Fill the cupcake liners between 2/3 and 3/4 full. Bake for 10-14 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean.

6) Remove from the oven and let rest in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 30 mini cupcakes

Adapted from the Simple Vanilla Cupcakes in the Joy The Baker Cookbook, by Joy Wilson

Pistachio Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick, 115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup (40 g) confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup (230 g) pistachio paste

1/2 teaspoon (2 g) kosher salt

1) Combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow.

2) Add the pistachio paste and salt, and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer up to medium-high, and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. If the mixture is not the same pale green color throughout mix for another minute on high speed, and scrape down again.

Frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Makes 1 3/4 cups

From the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, by Christina Tosi

Candied Lemon Peel

4-6 lemons (I used Meyer lemons)

4 cups water, divided

2 cups granulated sugar

Additional sugar for coating

1) Use a paring knife to strip the outer rind (the yellow portion) from the lemons. It’s okay to have a small amount of pith (the white portion), but not a thick layer. Slice the rinds into fine strips, about 1/4-inch wide.

2) Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the lemon rinds and boil for 5-10 minutes. Drain.

3) Combine the remaining 2 cups of water and the 2 cups of sugar in the saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Ass the lemon peels and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until peels are translucent and very tender, about 20-30 minutes.

4) Remove the peels from the syrup, drain and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Toss the peels in additional sugar to coat, then spread them in a single layer on a piece of parchment or wax paper and allow them to dry completely, 4-6 hours. Store in an airtight container.

From bakingbites.com

Chocolate Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream

I’m not much of a fruit person. Vegetables I eat tons of. But for some reason I’ve never really been into fruit. Even though I actually like most fruits, I rarely eat them. However, lately I’ve really been trying to eat them more. And with all the wonderful fruits in season/coming into season right now, it’s really hasn’t been too hard to eat and enjoy them!

When I decided to make some cupcakes for friends of ours that recently had a baby, I knew I wanted to incorporate some of the lovely berries that I’ve been buying like crazy. I decided on making a blackberry frosting, mostly because I knew the color would be beautiful (and appropriate, since they had a baby girl!). I paired it with a chocolate cupcake, which was perfect – the fruity frosting was a perfect foil for the dark, moist chocolate cake.

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

3/4 cup (90 grams/3 ounces) all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (150 grams/5 ounces) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (30 grams/1 ounce) dark cocoa powder (I used Cacao Barry Extra Brute)

3/4 teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda

3/4 teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking powder

3/4 teaspoon (2.5 grams) cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt

1/3 cup (70 mL) buttermilk (you can substitute plain milk or non-dairy milk, with a bit of vinegar or lemon juice mixed in)

1/4 cup (60 mL) hot brewed coffee or espresso

3 tablespoons (45 mL) vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)

1 egg, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F, and line a muffin/cupcake pan with liners.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift all the dry ingredients.

3. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be liquidy.

4. Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full (or just less).

5. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer comes out with just a few crumbs. Be careful not to overbake. Very carefully (they’re HOT!!) remove the cupcakes from the pan immediately, and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 cupcakes (somehow I only ended up with 11)

*Adapted from Sweetapolita

Blackberry Buttercream

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons strained blackberry puree

1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Tiny pinch of salt

1. cream butter in an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy. Slowly add one cup of the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth. Add the blackberry puree and mix until combined. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Add the vanilla bean paste and salt and mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

2. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.

*Adapted from Love & Olive Oil

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha American-Style Buttercream

Last week my husband asked if I could please bake something for a good friend of his. I immediately jumped at the chance to do some baking… and then I remembered that I was out of eggs. Oops. But then I remembered that Rosie over at Sweetapolita  recently made some vegan chocolate cupcakes, based on a recipe from a cookbook that I already own. And if Rosie says they are good, then I know they are good. Perfect! I decided I’d give those a try, and pair it with a mocha American-style buttercream from the same book (no eggs = no Swiss meringue buttercream either).

The cupcakes turned out great – very chocolatey and moist. (I did find them just a little bit crumbly – I ate it on a plate, with a spoon – but I assume that is because there are no eggs to give it structure.) I would not hesitate to make these again.

I did make the frosting with margarine and soy milk, keeping these completely vegan, and it was really yummy. However, I’d imagine that if made with butter they’d be even more delicious!

Vegan Chocolate Cake (or Cupcakes)

2 cups (275 g) all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (100 g) natural cocoa powder (NOT Dutch processed) (I used plain old Hershey’s)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 3/4 cups (450 ml) soy milk

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 2/3 cups (320 g) superfine sugar

1 1/4 cups (320 ml) sunflower oil (I used grape seed oil)

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 315°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line with parchment or line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Sift twice.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla extract. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until well combined.

4. For a 9-inch cake: Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for 40-55 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary. For cupcakes: Divide batter evenly between the muffin liners, filling each cup no more than 2/3 full. Bake for about 20 minutes (start checking at around 18 minutes; mine took about 22 minutes), until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake come out with almost no crumbs attached.

5. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove from the pan (or carefully remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin). Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*Adapted from Tea with Bea: Recipes from Bea’s of Bloomsbury, by Bea Vo

Mocha American-Style Buttercream

3 sticks (350 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks

7 cups (780 g) confectioners’ sugar

2-3 tablespoons (30-50 ml) milk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons espresso powder

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

Using an electric mixer with paddle or beater attachment, beat the butter and sugar until the mixture is lightened in color and fluffy in texture. Beat in the milk, vanilla extract, espresso powder and cocoa powder (I dissolved the espresso powder in the milk before adding to the frosting).

*Adapted from Tea with Bea: Recipes from Bea’s of Bloomsbury, by Bea Vo

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream & Lots of Sprinkles

Last week was 7 years since my husband quit smoking – definitely a good reason to celebrate!! And where there’s a celebration, there’s cake (at least in my world!). Or, in this case, cupcakes. Very, very vanilla cupcakes, topped with a whole lot of sprinkles. Don’t these just scream celebration?

I let the kids choose their own sprinkles.

And my husband got some gold stars on his, for a job well done 🙂

Since extra cupcakes around here can be dangerous (just ask my waistline!), I wanted to just make a small batch. Of course I could have scaled down any cupcake recipe, but with my math skills being what they are, I decided to first see if I could find a recipe for a small batch of cupcakes. After a quick google search (LOVE google!), I found this recipe for 6 vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Perfect!

These were really great, and I would definitely make them again next time I need just a few cupcakes. The only change I made to them was to add about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste to the frosting.

Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes

Cupcakes:

3/4 cup cake flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/3 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the middle two rows of a muffin pan with cupcake liners (six total).

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix for a second or two to thoroughly combine the dry ingredients.

3. Add the butter and half the milk. Mix on medium-high speed for two minutes; the batter will be very fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

4. Add the egg whites and vanilla to the remaining milk and whisk to combine. With the mixer on low, slowly pour the milk mixture into the batter. Raise the speed to medium, and mix until just combined.

5. Divide the batter among the six liners. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

4 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature (but not too soft!)

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Milk

1. With the mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) on medium, beat the butter until it is very soft. Turn the mixer to low, and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Beat until well-blended. Add the vanilla and salt, and beat until incorporated. If the frosting needs to be thinned, add milk in half teaspoon increments until a spreading consistency has been reached. (If desired, you may tint frosting with food coloring.)

2. Frost cupcakes (and add sprinkles, if you wish) and store in the refrigerator.

Makes 6 frosted cupcakes

*Adapted from My Madison Bistro