Mire Poix, Mixed Spice and beyond

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the spiritual journey of cupcakes

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so I found this lovely-looking cupcake recipe from Little Compton Mornings & my venture started out not unlike the many others before.
What they were meant to look like..
What they were meant to look like..

having the attention span of a fruitfly (& blaming this on my star sign), and living in constant fear of a culinary success being a fluke and having my suspicions confirmed, I flit from recipe to recipe, rarely revisiting to tweak or perfect. The least they have in common, the more quirky the combination of ingredients, the better. My own skill level be damned.

Hot Milk Cupcakes – how novel! Why stick with good ol’ folding-dry-ingredients-into-the-wet-ones when it always works? Why not whisk eggs with sugar, mix in the flour & powders, and incorporate into a steaming pan of milk & butter?

If I sound like I’m recipe-bashing (& I can’t deny it..), it’s only because I’m suffering from a case of sour grapes. Or uncooked, soggy grapes even.

My dilemma is that whilst adventurous, I shun repeating recipes. And therein lies the (missed) wealth of golden opportunities to experiment, test, hone, perfect.. But experimenting is expensive! I tell myself. Half a dozen eggs and enough flour for two loaves just because I want to change a step and reduce the amount of sugar are things I cannot justify.

Besides, who wants to eat the same things all the time, even if they do taste fabulous? (Lots of people, but that’s besides the point. I start getting bored if I have the same cereal two days in a row…)

First mistake came with the realisation that ‘incorporating’ does not equal rigorous beating. My guess is somewhere along the line, I stretched the gluten particles to their breaking point and that’s why the batter is looking suitably wobbly, but also sad and holey, like the back of so many British thighs.

Then there was the folding of batter into the warmed milky butter. I must’ve been overcompensating for my speedy mistake and slowed down so much that, well, the mixture started cooking and clumping up. Now they look even worse than the aforementioned thighs.

Reluctantly, they were plopped onto muffin cases alongside empty cases filled with water. Some steaming involved?

Miraculously, the batter settled happily into their moulds and rose. My joy was short-lived however, when the toothpick not only came out unclean, but thoroughly threaded with gooey half-formed dough-crumbs.

 

and the camera *isn't* out of focus. that's just how indistinct the texture was..

Back in they went, but now I was worried the beautiful peaks will overcook. And I wasn’t wrong. This toothpick-disappointment-reoven process was repeated several times (later on with the whole tray foil-wrapped) until I was convinced the ‘cakes’ (if you can call them that) were as cooked as they would ever be.

Even Mr P eyed the squishy moulds dubiously and fell silent where he would’ve usually at least offered words of comfort. (It could just be because I’d already called him in 74 times in the last half hour to detail how I’ve screwed up yet again though? Nah..)

And what of the frosting, the simple/elegant-sounding whisked up egg whites, tartar and warmed syrup frosting? Whites stiff and shiny, trouble started when I spooned the syrup in. The stiffness faded and everything became distinctly watery and un-frosty.

So of course I had this bright idea to add icing sugar and blend the damn thing.. I mean, who wouldn’t? My watery pinkness turned into smoothie-consistency, which while attractive, failed for functionality.

Oh but then this all happened in the space of 1 hour. And Jenn completely neglected the resting period. The wait-and-let-time-work-its-magic period.

You see, I’d already started throwing some out when I realised that not only were the previously uncooked cakes pulling themselves together, but the frosting suddenly started sitting up right too! Mr P was no longer interested by this point, but I dwelled, picked and poked at various specimens to analyse all my naughty departures from the recipe.. what if all those times I thought myself creative actually led to these cakes’ demise?

The dwelling slowed me down. I took photos in anticipation for lamenting how beautiful-looking the cakes turned out, but how awfully they tasted. And yet.. they really were not that bad. I mean, I wouldn’t go any further than that, but they were not an outright disaster. And my last 2.5 hours weren’t completely wasted.

tada!

With the frosting tasting their rightful marshmallow-texture, I proceeded to spread them onto the evened out cakes. And here they are. Lots of the same things together always make it look cool. Obviously photography tip #384.

up close & you can see the bubbles in the frosting!

They’re coming to work with me tomorrow, and will form my bribe for Mr S to get me through to interviews. I’ll update as events unfold.

**Edit – he didn’t think so much of the frosting, but he said he liked it. It’s always hard to gauge the genuineness, and my own doubts get in the way. Oh well, less messing around next time 🙂

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Written by misschoi

July 16, 2009 at 12:22 am

Posted in baked goods, epic fail

Tagged with ,

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