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Entries in Martha Stewart (2)

Monday
Sep232013

Martha Stewart's CAKES : Happy Birthday to me

My birthday was last week and it was sooooo boring. I took my cat to the vet to have his teeth cleaned. I went to Target. We had a quiet dinner at home.

It was exactly what I wanted.

Except for one thing.

For the first time in my entire life, I didn't have a birthday cake.

No cake.

No candles to blow out.

A couple of days later, Martha Stewart's CAKES arrived for review from Random House of Canada and my immediate thought was, 'I'm going to make myself a birthday cake'.

I pored over the pages, reading every sweet little recipe intro, drooling over the beautiful photography, trying to decide which one would be perfect.

It turns out that choosing a cake recipe was much like choosing my wedding dress. The first one that caught my eye turned out to be my favourite.

Maple Cake.

'The incomparable flavour of pure maple syrup is reason enough to make this sweet treat; that it is quick to prepare is an added bonus. Maple syrup is marked and graded by its colour, ranging from light to dark - the darker the colour, the more intense the flavour. If you can find grade B, use it here for both the batter and the icing.' - Martha Stewart's CAKES, p 120

Martha's book instructs the Maple Cake to be baked as a single layer in a 9-inch square pan, but who wants a flat, square birthday cake? I divided the batter between two 8-inch round pans and doubled the icing.

Oh my god. The icing.

Anyone from Canada that's ever gone on a road trip has probably eaten a Maple Dip Donut from Tim Horton's.

Martha's maple frosting has the texture of the top of a Maple Dip but the taste is about a gazillion times better.

The cake itself was light and fluffy on the inside and baked to a perfect light golden brown crust on the outside.

Martha Stewart's CAKES is being heralded as a '...one stop resource for cakes - birthday, chocolate, coffee, Bundt, upside-down, loaf, and more. From pound cake and angel food (with many variations) to genoise and streusel-topped, from comfort classics like red velvet, six-layer coconut, rich chocolate, lemon meringue, and cheesecake to sophisticated grown-up fare including chiffon cakes and tortes with luscious fruits, these 150 recipes and colour photographs cover techniques, decorating, and gifting ideas for every taste and occasion, whether no-fuss or fancy.'

A beautiful cake from a beautiful book.

Happy Birthday to me.

Martha Stewart's CAKES is available for sale on September 24, 2013.

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Saturday
Feb262011

Pink Peppercorn Cupcakes

Yesterday was one of those days when it seemed like it was never going to stop raining, so I knew I wanted to make something that would be the exact opposite of a gloomy grey February day. Now, I don't know if you've noticed, but over the last year or so, I've developed a love for pink - and pink is DEFINITELY the opposite of grey and gloomy.

I searched through my pantry to see what I had on hand that could be turned into something special - and here's what I came up with.

Pink Peppercorn Cupcakes topped with Pink Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I thought Pink Peppercorns would add a really interesting flavour to a basic vanilla cupcake recipe. You see, Pink Peppercorns aren't peppercorns at all - they're actually the dried berries of a bush called Baies Rose. They have a light peppery taste that borders on sweet with a hint of rose (sometimes, Sean will roll the edges of beef tenderloins in crushed Pink Peppercorns before grilling - this is a fantastic addition of flavour to a steak that you should try if you haven't). I thought, 'Why not try them with something sweet?'.

I've never actually baked cupcakes before (which a few of my friends found surprising) so of course I turned to the Queen of Baking, Ms. Martha Stewart for a basic Vanilla Cupcake Recipe:

  • Whisk 3 Cups Flour, 1.5 tsp Baking Powder and 3/4 tsp Salt together in a large bowl
  • Cream 12 Tbsp (1.5 sticks) room temp Butter with 1.5 Cups Sugar 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy
  • Add 4 eggs - one at a time until well mixed
  • Add 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Need 1.25 Cup Milk
  • To Butter, Sugar, Egg mixture - Add flour, milk, flour, milk, slowly until both are gone - beginning and ending with flour
  • Add 2 Tbsp Pink Peppercorns (I smashed mine in a Ziploc Baggie with a rolling pin)
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until tops spring back

The cupcakes were super easy and VERY tasty. I also used Martha's Vanilla Bean Buttercream Recipe - I added 2 drops of red food colouring to give a warm pink glow:

  • Beat 2 Cups room temp Unsalted Butter until creamy
  • Slowly add 3.5 Cups Icing Sugar
  • Add pinch of Salt, 1 Vanilla Bean, scraped and 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Slowly add 0.25 Cups Milk then food colouring - continue on med/low speed until smooth and creamy

Ok so here's the thing. Decorating cupcakes is harder than I thought it would be!! Here's a pic of the rest of the batch so you can see more of my attempts. The Buttercream was light and subtle and tasted like it was fresh from a professional bakery however, I decided next time I bake cupcakes, I'm going to make Frosting a la Ms. Betty Crocker instead. I LOVE frosting!!

If you love cupcakes then DEFINITELY use the recipe I've posted - you could swap out the Pink Peppercorns - lemon, lime or orange zest would be wonderful - or, you could leave the recipe as is, straight-up Vanilla and then go for flavour with your icing.

Thank goodness for pretty pink cupcakes in the middle of February.