Monday, April 6, 2009

Self knowledge

You know, I aspire to being a domestic goddess. I dream of being serene and unflappable, producing one culinary masterpiece after another, always prepared with a fully stocked (not to mention spotlessly clean and precisely organized) kitchen. But I think I’m going to have to accept that it’s just not going to happen.

Take this weekend. I had already planned my first Cookbook Challenge recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess: cupcakes, as requested by Miss B. I had checked the ingredients list. I had taken the butter out of the fridge ahead of time to soften. I had even been in the supermarket on Saturday afternoon to pick up a few staples.

And yet, at five-thirty on Saturday evening, when dinner preparations were already in full swing and it was time to frost the cupcakes, I discovered that I had somehow managed to forget to buy icing (confectioners’) sugar. Which we had probably been out of since January, the last time I remember making frosting.

I will spare you the details of the short-lived but hideously unsuccessful (and potentially dangerous) attempt to make frosting using melted caster (granulated) sugar that followed this discovery. Suffice to say that Miss B and I, who clearly have no self-restraint, ate unfrosted cupcakes for dessert on Saturday night. DP, who has more exacting standards, held out until Sunday lunchtime when he could have his cupcake as it should be—dripping with gooey chocolate frosting.

It is worth noting that, even without frosting, these cupcakes are so good that a four-year-old who normally ignores the cake part altogether was eating bits off the paper liner by the end.

Pepsi-Cola Cupcakes*
* Anyone who is familiar with Ms. Lawson knows that she is, albeit reluctantly, the “Coca-Cola cooking queen of Europe”. Anyone who is familiar with me knows that we don’t keep no stinkin’ Coke in my house.

200g/8oz plain/all-purpose flour
250g/10oz caster/granulated sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
125ml/5oz buttermilk (or 30g/10z yogurt mixed with 100ml/4oz semi-skimmed milk)**
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g/5oz unsalted butter
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
175ml/7oz Pepsi

2 Tbsp butter, softened***
3 Tbsp Pepsi
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
225g/9oz icing/confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Heat the butter, cocoa, and Pepsi on the stove until the butter is melted and stir to combine. Mix the egg, dairy, and vanilla together. Add first the butter mixture, and then the egg mixture, to the dry ingredients and beat to combine. Pour into cupcake pans and bake until a tester comes out clean.****

To make the frosting, mix the Pepsi, cocoa, and vanilla into the butter. Sift or whisk the sugar to get rid of any lumps, then beat into the butter mixture until you have a thick, smooth, but still runny frosting. Spread on the cupcakes. Sprinkle with hundreds and thousands if so inclined.

** I used 30g Greek yogurt and 100ml full milk—worked great.
*** NL specifies melting the butter to make the frosting, but I thought that would make it too runny, so I didn't. As you can see, it's pretty runny as it is.
**** I cooked mine for between 30 and 40 minutes, which seemed like a lot for cupcakes, but they weren't dried out. Quite the opposite, in fact; I still wasn't sure if they were cooked, even after all that time.


Diana P. said... Best Blogger Tips

So funny; I made homemade pasta a few weeks ago for a crowd and new immediately that the dough wasn't right (wrong water to flour ratio), but made the mistake of going forward any way because I didn't have time to fix it. The texture wasn't quite right, but still edible. Part of the thing to realize is that food is fun and while perfect food is terrific, it's not necessary...

Mark Scarbrough said... Best Blogger Tips

I'd be hard pressed to tell you how many cookbooks I have--and in how many of them I have big, black X's right through this recipe and that, all because they didn't work. Nope, that frosting wouldn't work. Couldn't really. Bad chemistry there. Ugh.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Diana - so true. And, after all, what are your friends going to remember? They're going to remember that you made them homemade pasta.

Mark - I also aspire to get to the point where I can tell, just by looking at a recipe, whether it will work or not. Which clearly you can already do. The frosting worked with the softened butter, but just barely--it's been separating ever since.

Aimée said... Best Blogger Tips

Totally sounds like something I would do. I am fastidious about lists, but still manage to occasionally forget something essential.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Aimée - So glad it's not just me! I am also a diehard list-maker, so forgetting things drives me bananas.

Sad Rabbit said... Best Blogger Tips

N....i make this all the time..i am sure you have eaten mine before now! but i make it as a tray bake....have been known to use whatever yoghurt i have to hand too.....quite often a strawberry or raspberry one.....which imparts a nice subtle flavour, if you can detect it under the sledghammer of chocolate! This then, naturally leads to a grown up topping of whipped cream and said fruit......(have even been known to use a cherry variety of evil fizzy stuff...)

If you can be bothered. I like it just as it is.....baked in a tray, slightly underdone so it is all fudgey still...

Try it. you will thank me ;-)


Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Em - Now that you mention it, I'm sure I have had your version wonder it tasted familiar. I will try your version next--and whipped cream and fruit topping sounds divine. xo

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