Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Threadcakes and T-Shirts

Our favorite t-shirt site Threadless has gone above and beyond to create one of the coolest cake competitions. Not only to they make great t-shirts and allow artists the opportunity to be seen, but now you can turn those favorite t-shirts into delicious cakes.

Threadcakes is an online baking contest held by Chris Cardinal and Threadless. It gives bakers and non-bakers the opportunity to create amazing cakes from fabulous t-shirts. To find out everything about the competition and how to enter go here:

Here are some random selections of the t-shirts and their cake counterparts.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Iron Cupcake: Peach and Fennel Cupcake with Peach Marscapone Frosting

So I'm new to this competition baking scene. I didn't realize the options that were out there for home-made, self-taught bakers. I recently stumbled upon the Iron Cupcake Challenge. I had read of other, far more skilled bakers enter this illusive competition. Since I found myself with a little bit of time I decided to see if I could get something put together. I was cutting it a little close, submissions are due by Friday and it's Monday. So I put my brain to work and came up with a quick recipe worth submitting. Actually, it tastes pretty amazing, if I do say so myself. I feel a bit overwhelmed by some of the awesome submissions in this months IC challenge. I'm not sure I stand a chance.

If you like my cupcake, or you just like me, please make sure to vote starting July 28th, 8PM at NO ONE PUTS CUPCAKE IN A CORNER,

Also, if you are interested in getting in on the Iron Cupcake business, check out all the details at Iron Cupcake: Earth and join the fun.

Now here's my cupcake submission with the recipe below. It's nice and moist and the fresh peaches give it a nice summery flavor with the fennel combination.

Peach & Fennel Cupcakes

1-1/2 c. AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated orange zest
3/4 c. whole milk
2 peaches pitted, sliced and cut into thirds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, crushed fennel and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until light and fluffly. Add vanilla and orange zest, beating well. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of milk, beating until smooth. Fold in peaches or nectarines. Scoop batter into prepared cupcake liners. Bake in preheated over for 23-28 minutes or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.

Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.

Peach Marscapone Frosting
1 pound marscapone cheese
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
2 peaches peeled, pitted and finely chopped

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the marscapone, cream and confectioners' sugar until medium-soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful no to overbeat. Carefully fold in peaches.

Decorate cooled cupcakes with the frosting and garnish with a sprinkle of fennel seeds.

I am competing to win the following prizes made by wonderful contributors:
And the corporate prize providers:
HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson
Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Friendly Advice on Baking Cupcakes

I'm not a professional. I haven't taken a baking class. I learned my baking skills from my family, trial and error, and lots of books. Plus, I'm not perfect. I learn new things every day and I love to get new baking information from folks. So, I want to impart some of the wisdom I have learned from those far wiser than me. So, I hope these help:

1. Fill your cupcake liners no more than 1/2 to 2/3 full. I have to stick with 1/2 full as I always overfill my cupcakes. You don't want them to overflow and get messy.

2. Don't overmix your batter. Over mixing can cause your cupcakes to end up chewy instead of nice and moist. Follow the directions in the recipe.

3. Bring all ingredients to room temperature before mixing your cupcake batter. By mixing cold items into your batter, you risk having a lumpy batter which might cause you to over mix your batter. If at room temperature the ingredients will mix evenly and the result will be a wonderful cupcake batter. Same goes for icing. Don't put cold milk into room temp. butter!

4. Cook only one pan of cupcakes at a time and rotate the pan. You want your cupcake pan in the center of your oven. If your oven tends to cook items more that are toward the bake, then rotate your cupcake pan halfway through the cooking time. If you are cooking two pans, make sure you switch the pans halfway through. This will ensure that you get evenly cooked cupcakes.

5. Use a small offset spatula for decorating. It has a flat rounded blade designed for even spreading. The crooked handle gives you extra leverage.

Just Cupcakes opens in Virginia Beach

This weekend a took a trip to find a new cupcakery that had opened in the Virginia Beach area. As excited as cupcakes make me, it makes me even more happy to find others who enjoy my affinity for the tiny cakes. Just Cupcakes is located in the West end of the Hilltop Shopping center in Virginia Beach.

The shop is quaint and the people are friendly. I went on the grand opening day and the place seemed very busy in the few minutes I was there to grab the cupcakes. I got a box of half a dozen because I thought I would be sharing with friends later on that evening. Fortunately for me, my evening fell through and I could indulge in the delicious cakes all by myself :)

I have to say that I'm thoroughly pleased with the size, the cake to icing ratio, as well as the moistness of the cakes. Nothing is too sweet. The lemon is amazingly delicious. You can tell by the taste that the ingredients are top notch and they know what they are doing when they bake their cupcakes. The red velvet will knock your socks off. So moist and dense and the icing was perfectly creamy.

Unfortunately my pictures didn't turn out so well so I'm posting a few pictures from the Just Cupcakes website so you can see how great the cupcakes are. If you are in the area I hope you'll stop by and support them as a new local business. You won't be disappointed and I'm sure you'll want to come back for more.
*all cupcake pictures are from Just Cupcakes

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cherry Pie-Oh My

I've been dying to try cupcakes from Carolina Cupcakery in Chesapeake, VA. Since I recently moved to the area I have never ventured to the location even though I often visited the website to oggle to various goodies displayed. I made a trip out there recently with family and was pleasantly surprised at what I found. Not only was the staff cheerful, and extremely helpful, but the cupcakes were delicious!

Listed here from the top, left to right, are: Tipsy Butterfinger, Spicy Hot Pepper, Cookies and Cream, Coffee, Carrot Cake and Cherry Pie-Oh My.

While all the little cakes were tasty treats, the Cherry Pie-Oh My tops the cake! It was combined of delicious layers of cake, with cherry pie filling and home made whipped topping. It was so moise and delcious I scarfed it before I even got to anything else on my plate! I highly reccomend this cake.

The staff made me feel welcome and I certainly will be back to test more tasty cakes and see what new flavors they come up with!