Thursday, April 7, 2016

It's a Nice Day for a White Wedding (Cupcake)

Alright people, this is not a drill. I've been called up to the big leagues. That's right: I'm the sole baker for a wedding. Does this fill me with joy and exuberance (and a tiny bit of nausea)? Damn right it does. Thankfully the bride has gone incredibly easy on me and requested cupcakes instead of some massive, five-tiered, stark white colossus of a cake with designs on world domination. This may be the big leagues, but baby steps are always appreciated (quite literally) when transporting any form of dessert from kitchen to vehicle to final destination (no, not my mouth). But since I'll be making three flavors of cupcakes, I felt it only right to do a practice round for each. I realize for normal women the best part of wedding preparations is probably finding THE dress, selecting the perfect venue, or simply that awesome sparkly addition to the ring finger. Me? My favorite part was the cake tasting (I'll give you a moment to digest this shocking information). My husband couldn't make it to the tasting as he was currently embroiled in this lovely land called Clovis while I was still up in Detroit (the lesser of two evils!), so he'll never know the wonderment that is the cake tasting until he trades me in for a younger, blonder model. But I wanted the future bride and groom to experience one of the easiest and most stress-free aspects of wedding planning. Think of me as a wedding therapist. Getting stressed about seating charts? Have this sample cupcake and be whisked away by flavor! I'm the Carl Jung of baking. I decided I wanted to start off the sampling of baked goods with the classic white wedding cake flavor. This was a two-fold decision as today happens to mark the four year anniversary of mine and Derek's fancy church wedding. What's a bride to do when her husband is deployed but bake and eat cupcakes to both soothe the pain and reminisce about one of the best days of her life? The actual Carl Jung might have something to say about this, but he's dead, so he won't be the one having his cake and eating it, too.
Well that got real dark real quick.
I'm seriously not going to eat a dozen cupcakes by myself this close to bikini season. I may be crazy, but I'm definitely not stupid. The great thing about cupcakes is they freeze like a champ. So when my husband eventually gets home, we'll have a belated celebration while these cupcakes thaw out (much like the thawing of my cold dead heart when my husband is around. D'awww.). The recipe I used made 16 cupcakes total, 4 of which I left with the bride for sampling purposes. I may or may not have told her about how I sampled my cake without my husband, but sharing is caring, I suppose.
OK, it's not really cheating.
When the bride and I were discussing flavor options, classic white almond cake was at the top of the list. Naturally, I used Pinterest as my spirit guide like I always do to find a perfect recipe to adjust to my liking. When I searched for a recipe, I was shocked to find the same damn recipe everywhere, and it involved the use of a box cake. Dios mio! Sacrilege! But if 80 bajillion Pinterest users finally agreed on something, I figured I better give it a shot. So I found a recipe to adapt. I cut the original recipe in half to get my 16 cupcakes. You could easily double this for a full batch, but unless you're baking for a small army (of brides?), 16 cupcakes is usually plenty for one household. Gather up:
  • 1 cup plus 2 TBS of white cake mix
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/4 heaping tsp of salt
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 1 TBS of oil
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 egg whites
This is quite a low maintenance recipe which is fantastic. Preheat your oven to 325 and line a muffin tin with cupcake papers. In the bowl of your stand mixer, dump the cake mix, sugar, flour, and salt and give a quick blend on super low. Then add in the water, oil, sour cream, extracts, and whites. Blend on low for 30 seconds, then high for 2 minutes (what am I, the directions on the back of a cake box? ...Wait...).
What's with the really bitchin' ice cream scoop, you ask?
If you're anything like me, you can create a mess in less than a nanosecond when trying to get batter into a cupcake liner. My kitchen goes from zero to "Why is everything so sticky?" at an alarming rate, so I decided to give the old ice cream scoop trick a try. Bakers swear by it, but as usual, I was a skeptic. I will say the ice cream scoop would probably be really helpful with a batter that was thicker, but this cake batter is quite thin, so I still managed to make a total mess of things...there was batter on the back of my bicep. I'm a talented girl. So scoop or spoon enough batter to fill your cups about 3/4 of the way full. These don't expand much, so you're safe. Pop into the oven for 16-20 minutes. My "sweet spot" for timing was 19 minutes.
"Last time you made cupcakes, they were for me. These better be for me, too." -Freyja
Once cooked, let cool in the pan for 5 minutes on a rack before removing and allowing plenty of time to finish cooling before frosting. Speaking of frosting...
You'd be shocked by the amount of butter I possess in my fridge.
A classic white almond wedding cupcake deserves a classic white almond frosting. I may be allergic to actual almonds, but thank God their extract doesn't make me break out into eczema patches like their evil, delicious origins do. Almond flavoring is simply the best thing you could ever add to ANY flavor of cake as far as I'm concerned. So to put the icing on the cake, get:
  • 1 cup of room temp butter
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 4-5 TBS whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
Start by creaming the butter and then adding in two cups of powdered sugar, two tablespoons of heavy cream, and the extracts. Blend until well mixed and add in two more cups of sugar and two more tablespoons of heavy cream. At this point you have enough frosting to frost all 16 cupcakes, but the butter will still give it a yellow tint. I wanted frosting pure as the driven snow...frosting so white, even Hitler would've liked it, essentially. This was both a terrible and accurate example. Don't be a racist jerk, but if you want really white frosting, add in the additional cup of sugar and tablespoon of cream. As far as frosting techniques, I used a bunch of floral designs, so let me help you with those.
These adorable little flowers were created with a #104 tip. To get a really good tutorial, check this link out (starts a 1:07).
Essentially, you hold the tip down with narrow side facing out and pipe little petals.
Then add a second layer.
Finish up with a third and add some white or colored pearls to the middle.
I created a hydrangea bouquet with a 2D open star tip. I piped a small mound and twisted while pulling the tip up and away.

Fill in all over and create a second layer if you like! I also used the 2D tip to create a couple roses. Start in the middle of the cupcake and swirl outward and around for these. Top with white crystal sprinkles for a dewy look.
And for the classic favorite swirl, just use a 1M tip. Top with pearls or sprinkles, either way, your dogs will be waiting underfoot for something to be dropped.

What girl doesn't love a bouquet of flowers?
Al-my-god. Classic white almond wedding cake, you made me second guess my decision to go rogue and have a chocolate wedding cake. I adore almond extract, so this flavor was just divine as far as I'm concerned. It was like eating saccharine manna from heaven. If you don't want a super duper sweet cupcake, I'd recommend nixing the almond extract from either the cupcake OR the frosting, but definitely not from both. The flavoring is classic for a reason, after all. But even with a box cake in the mix, this recipe is a total keeper, and if you take the time to decorate the cupcakes like a pro, you don't have to feel terrible about taking a little shortcut (Pinterest made you do it). I'm going to have one hell of a time trying not to eat all of these before my husband gets home, but anything for love, right? Apparently I do have willpower when it comes to dessert, who knew? I guess I can thank my husband for that, along with the one million other reasons I'm thankful for him. Any man that can put up with my level of Type A crazy deserves a cupcake for sure. That's why he's getting a whole damn bouquet of them. Apparently cupcakes are still good therapy well after the wedding. Never mind happy wife, happy life...feel free to use my trade secret as much as possible: cupcakes in the freezer, you'll make it til you're both geezers. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
I know the husband usually gives the wife flowers for an anniversary (which he totally did), but this time, I'm literally taking the (cup)cake with these.

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