Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla (crusting) buttercream

It took exactly 3 weeks 1 month to bring these beauties out into the light. Not that anything was really wrong. This is that adapted recipe which is ridiculously good, needed no fumblethroughs or corrections. The icing I paired it with created harmonious results, logistics worked out in first try . Big beaming rays of sunshine made for those luminous pictures. Again perfect. And my cake artistry skills, well, almost *cough*. So why so late? And here goes, the truth that stems only from experience. I never bypass a chance to photo-op the reason we're here, whether it debuts onto BFMK archives, or never makes it past my kitchen table. See, neglecting That Great Scene (if I'm good could be a week prior to actual editing/publishing and maybe not) is just plain wrong, a detrimental-that- stems- from-the-lazies and can set you back in the annals of good post coverage. Compares sort of to a life- giving- lemons concept...the lemonade may be substantial one day, all glorious-fresh, made on the whim, when thirst does call. Though future yield holds no same bet, while you may be "prepared", those once-bright yellows have now turned patchy- bitter, and are not as lemonade-intentioned as you may set out to be.

  I know, I digress. You see, almost everything and anything we eat, gets packed into an already overspilling photo library, much memory and frozen visuals (occasionally when first doesn't do, second, third or even fourth take over) that will only later shove me into creating a delicious tune for words to waltz in, chronicles to chaperone what your good eyes will behold. And it takes time to break forward,  nodding to that pesky mindfunk, and total inability to process language, often results of casual chinwags and homeschoolmomrants. Since, 'stop that' "not now", "do your math" do not make for  great prose, stuff that needs to be brought forward and sold. Even though recipesharing and gawksequences make for an honorable assurance, the accompanying tête-à-tête seals the deal, enhancing the belief that all's-gonna-be-alright. What happens in my ovens well over a month ago should be your here and now, hopefully after those few rehearsals, and many tastetests later. Then you'll thank me for the trial and wait, settling all doubts as to why you need vanilla cupcakes with a crusting buttercream as much as I did.

K, so what do I need to say about them? That these are the exemplar of any bakery riff you will ever in your life try. That they aren't just passable, but possess enough drama, an emboldened flavor that latches from good quality vanilla endowed in its superb body. The handful of citrus rind arranged in brightened the largely adapted recipe and was really the only alteration.

You won't fail to notice the moist crumb, and nice even builds, characteristic of All Great Cakes. These are those tantamount to perfection, splendid pillowy- dense forms providing an ample foundation for what's to come.

Which brings us to the frosting, because in the end isn't that what it's all about? A heavier gilding this one is, though of course it's not a burden too heavy to bear. Overall gushworthy flavor and lighter- than- air defining give vanilla cupcakes enough leverage for a best- yet cupcake review.

Which is why we went through the whole dozen in less than the amount of time it took to watch a movie and opening credits to Downton Abbey's second season.
Yes we are, motivated like that.
The use of shortening and the pound of sugar is icingessential, deeming nowilt petal precision for these "hydrangeas"And my fringy flowers may or may not be your theme of the day. So go on, do whatever compels your confection- creating orbit.

Vanilla cupcakes~
(Adapted from Natasha's kitchen)
  • 1 ¼ c cake flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ c canola oil (can be subbed with vegetable/extra light olive oil)
  • ½ c buttermilk 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 count muffin pan with cupcake liners
  •  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest and salt. Set aside.
  • On medium speed, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs until light and frothy.
  • Beat in the sugar.
  • Add vanilla, oil and beat on medium speed until its pale, well combined.
  • Reduce mixer to med/low speed, and alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending in flour, scraping down sides of bowl, and beat till just combined. Do not overbeat. Batter should be thin.
  • Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter, about ⅔ full.
  • Bake for 14-17  minutes at 350 degrees F. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Frost when cooled.
This is a recipe for a crusting buttercream, one that can hold the many shapes it's piped into. It's sweeter and usually dries to the touch, perfect for elaborate decorating and these hydrangea flowers. To do the same, take a look at Rosie's spot on tutorial.
Vanilla buttercream frosting~
  • ½ c unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1 ¼c vegetable shortening
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 bag (2 lbs) of confectioners sugar
  • 2-6 tbsp milk, or as much needed for desired consistency 
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, shortening, salt and vanilla extract until pale and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes on medium speed.
  • On the lowest speed, start by adding  ½ of the confectioners’ sugar. (use a bowl shield if you have one) Pause, scrape down bowl and continue adding half cupfuls of sugar, until it's all been used.
  • Once sugar is incorporated, raise speed to medium and continue beating, while adding milk, tablespoon by tablespoon. Stop at each addition to test consistency. It should be smooth, a bit stiff and well combined.
  • Pipe, spread or dollop onto cooled cupcakes.
Any extra buttercream will keep in the refrigerator for unto 5 days, in the freezer, covered airtight, 2 months. I'm almost certain you'll find a way to use it all up.

*In case you missed* See how I created the frosting flowers right here.
If regular buttercream is more your thing, try this creamy vanilla.
Woe is me! My iphotolibrary experienced a recent crash, to which I'm now educated on the benefits of backup(!), backup(!), backup(!).

Last year, around this time~ palappam

Oh yes, we're serious about our editing~

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Corn in seasoned coconut milk

The story I will tell in the next few sentences is not really to inspire, or draw example from. Nor should it allow those haplessly wanton desires to control every decision, your outcome and utter your final destiny. A few weeks ago, my roadfaring ways almost led to disastrous results, unacceptable driving mishap, where my wideside van curved almost to kiss several front fenders, a conclusion derived from misjudgment of time and mismanagement of sense. In a not- too- swift move, I did my left turn in the most unfriendliest- of-traffic-lane settings, where the green signal takes over the task of having you turn as and when you deem fit, maybe, and not always aware of oncoming traffic, instead of the much desired, uncompromising green arrow. The move, requires an executive decision be made in less than 1/10 of a second, most times a barely-miss-aha-escape moment, which turns you into the shamefacedfoolmotorist taking in the furious glances of the Oncoming(traffic, I mean). So there goes I, after rudest-horn-awakening-ever, rushing to take control of the gas pedal, only to propel (almost in slingshot form) to the other side. My weaksmiled face turned against the meanness and the accompanying finger salutes( and there were many). It was that still-of-life that I wanted erased from memory. Cringeworthy and totally  Offkey.

Why, what reason? If there was one, worth it or not (?), you may ask (no worries if you don't, I plan to answer, anyway) The nascar driving moment was brought only and through a picture I was taking in, a could-not-get out-of- my-sight-my-head visual from Mridula Baljekars "Vegetarian Cooking Of India" (FYI, recipe perusal does not  figure in any driving safety manual).

An insanely bold, yet qualitative piece, this here, "Bhutte Masala"of hers. Ms. Baljekar takes us on a visit to India's hillstation vendors, those charmarking experts seasoning corn over hot coals in most rudimentary settings. She then transports this further, to a much refined conclusion, one I had previously never set my eyes on. Even though grilled/pepper smeared corn is as delicious as it limits itself to be, this unbridled way to cook it takes to a suddenlyricher playing field, invoking the deepest ambition in me, all the while disregarding my motor surroundings, and the fact that I was still driving a car. 'I just need the corn, all other materials were cupboard staples, the stuff of everyday mealmaking', thought I. Which is keenly right at the second I was brought to road's attention, a triple honk cue, launching my car into all the above mentioned.

Though I have to admit, it does benefit greatly, this find, probably as I look in hindsight, could've been done at a later, more convenient time and venue. But it happened when it did. Sometimes you just have no excuses, even second chances to answer on inspiration's call.

So what's it all about? Corn cobs cut into smallish wedges, allowing  a more efficient way to steep -extract all the flavor that's put in, much that permeates even to the core. This dunk brings the golden corn chunks a more even essence, released finally through a snugandnestle of seasoning on each 1 1/2 inch form. 

Tempered elements in chili flecked coconut milk is your liquid foundation, a magnanimous flow of seasonings that hinge onto every golden kernel. Suffice to say each one promises bursts of curried "juice". 

It's a ridiculously glorious spoon, hand and bowl event, one that I really couldn't forgo. Even if it was just short of hearing angels sing

(Inspiration, adapted from Mridula Baljekar's Vegetarian Cooking Of India)
  • 4 corn on the cob, fresh or refrigerated
  • 1 c unsweetened canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to flavor
  • 2 tbsp nonfat plain yogurt.
  • 2 tbsp pure or virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3- 4 red chilies, broken in pieces
  • 1 seeded serrano pepper, sliced into thin cuts
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves (about 6-8 leaves)
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro

I bought packs of refrigerated corn. It was good, but farmfresh trumps all.
Hacked in my adjustments. More coconut milk, seasonings and couple spoon's worth of yogurt made for a reliably fine ending. 
This intense venture gets even spectacular as it sits longer in the seasoned "milk" .   
  • With a sharp knife, slice the corn into 1/2- 3/4 inch cuts. Place the slices in a deep pan with coconut milk and water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cover. Let simmer for 15 minutes or until pieces are soft, or if you prefer, until moisture evaporates. Add salt.
  • Turn off heat. Mix in yogurt until well blended.
  • In a separate skillet, heat oil. Add mustard seeds and temper. 
  • Add chilies, serranos. Stir until cooked, about 1 minute. 
  • Stir in curry leaves and coriander powder. Turn off heat.
  • Add the fried ingredients to the corn/coconut milk mixture. 
  • Top with cilantro and serve in bowls.
~You can wait(cook) till the corn soaks up all liquid, but the "masala soup"was thoroughly enjoyed, especially by my very picky junior 1 and 2.

Why not? Revisit the past. Aval vilayichathu made a debut around this time. Check it out, right here.
He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
"The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land He is giving you." Deuteronomy 28:8 (NLT)