Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pining for Cupcakes

I have a real weakness for cupcakes, especially freshly-baked cupcakes with real buttercream icing. Buttercream doesn't seem to be too popular here, though. It's hard to find in the shops as the trend is more toward that hard fondant icing. I'm not a fan of fondant, so I give often give the cupcake trays at the bakery a miss.

Today I was at Somerfield (grocery store) and saw a lovely tray of twelve cupcakes arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree. They were so cute! And piled high with buttercream frosting. I was so excited I could hardly stand it, and I couldn't wait to get home and gorge on them.

But they were awful. :( I don't know what was in the icing, but it tasted slightly fishy. Yuck! My daughter said it tasted of plastic. And you know cupcakes are bad when a twelve-year-old won't touch them. I hate to be graphic, but these cupcakes were barf-o-riffic.

As with most things, I think cupcakes are probably best when you make them yourself, so my project for the New Year is to learn to make proper cupcakes with proper buttercream icing. I've been perusing my friend Landa's Flickr Album for inspiration. She makes the most beautiful cupcakes I've ever seen.

19 comments:

Teresa R said...

Oh man, sorry that they turned out to be so awful! That would have broken a child's heart. (Cottage cheese did that to me when i was little. I do like it now though, but I've had over 30 years to recover. LOL!)

Please share when you've found the perfect recipe!

gracefruit said...

Oh Teresa, they were rank! Really foul. I was slightly concerned at first that we'd been poisoned. When she said 'plastic' my immediate thought was 'melamine'. Eep!

I am going to find a good white or yellow cake recipe. Start simple!

Heather@Twin Birch said...

That is so sad! You need to come back to the US and get yourself some serious buttercream!!

Fishy cupcakes could be the biggest buzz~kill I have ever heard of!!

Wishing you lots of merriness over there!! xoxo Heather

Teresa R said...

Oh my gosh...glad it wasn't melamine!!

gracefruit said...

Heather, fishy cupcakes are a total buzz kill. My expectations were way too high for that sort of letdown! I'm so desperate that I'd happily settle for some of that Crisco/powdered sugar frosting.

Teresa, my husband had a sniff of our toxic cupcake tree and said it smelled of chemicals. I have no idea what's gone in there, but I think it's best kept secret.

Joanna said...

I hope this doesn't hurt. It's meant to help: I had an amazing red velvet cupcake the other day with a cream cheese buttercream icing that was richer than rich and I think I had my eyes closed for the entire feast.

Sorry yours stunk.
fish? yik. Plastic? Nasty. I should send you one of these red velvets but I'm afraid the top with melt or go bad before it gets there

El Sapone said...

Hi elizabeth!
In Germany somtimes cake taste fishy when they gave fishmeal to the chickens food. Maybe this was the problem. You shouldnt have problems like this because you have such beautyful hens. I love them. I´d like to have some but I know nothing about them. How much space they need?
merry christmas Sannyas

gracefruit said...

Joanna, I'm happy one of us had a decent cupcake! Ours were vile. Do you have any recipes? :)

Hi Sannyas! I didn't think about that, but it does make sense.

Hens are very easy to keep and you don't need much room, especially if you only want a couple. I hope you have a lovely holiday!

Amber said...

Buttercream Icing:

1/2 c vegetable shortening
1/2 c butter (softened)
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp milk
sm. glass milk (keep aside)

Cream butter, shortening and vanilla. Blend in sugar one cup at a time, beating well. Beat in 2 tbsp milk and continue mixing until light and fluffy. (If you feel you need more milk as you beat, dribble in small amounts from the extra glass) Keep covered until ready to use.

This recipe is from my friend Greg. Both he and his mother make wedding cakes in their spare time. I've tried this recipe and liked it a lot. I'm sure if you wanted SUPER buttery goodness, you could reduce the shortening amount and add more butter accordingly, but I have not tried that personally with this recipe. I know the shortening is there in the first place to make it lighter and fluffier...

Hope that helps a little!

Anne-Marie said...

I agree with you - fondant frosting isn't that tasty. I've had some cupcakes not worth the calories lately too but did manage to squeeze in a delicious little espresso morsel cupcake and shockingly, a Vanilla on Vanilla cupcake at Barnes & Noble (? would not have guessed that) so if you have a B & N in your area and you're not making that delicious recipe that Amber gave you, head to the book store and see if you can find some cupcake bliss there =)

gracefruit said...

Amber, thank you so much! I have found a lot of recipes on line, but to have one from someone whose taste I trust is wonderful. I might give this a go later today if I can free up my oven. I'm baking cornbread for tomorrow's stuffing. :)

Anne-Marie, I have had that very cupcake! When I was in the US in October, my husband and I were at B&N and ordered two cupcakes -- vanilla on vanilla and chocolate on chocolate. The lady behind the counter cut them in half for us and we both agreed the vanilla was by far the best.

I so agree with you about the calories. If the sweet is not worth the calories, I've been known to spit it in the bin. I felt a bit sad tipping the lot of fishy cupcakes into the bin, but they wouldn't be eaten.

Hippy at Heart said...

Elizabeth, buttercream is so easy to make that's why you don't normally buy it ready made over here. For a quick recipe use real butter say 4oz beat until soft and fluffy and then add 8oz of icing sugar, what you would call confectioner's sugar I believe, slowly incorporate all the sugar, add vanilla flavouring or whatever flavouring you want and/or colouring and hey presto, perfect buttercream icing and no nsty tastes or smells.

If you want a more accurate cupcake recipe and a buttercream recipe them email me and I'll find you one. I have laods. Buttercream is twice as much icing sugar to butter.

Hope that's helped a bit.

gracefruit said...

J - thank you! That's very helpful. I'm not much of a baker (beyond muffins -- aka 'ugly cupcakes'), so any help is gratefully received. I'm hoping Lakeland will have a big after Christmas sale so I can load up on cupcake equipment.

Bella Bubbles said...

Hi Gracefruits!! I really like your work,I started making my soap with your base and I'm absolutely satisfied! <3
Would you like to become affiliates or link each other? I'd be honored! Hugs and Merry Xmas!
Bella

gracefruit said...

Hi Bella, I'm so glad you like the recipe. It's one of the first I tried and I've never found one I like more.

I've added you to my list of soapy blogs and look forward to reading more!

Hope you have a wonderful New Year.

E xx

Bella Bubbles said...

Hi! Thank's for adding me to your list =) I'll add you too!
Hugs,have a nice day!

Royal Icing Sweets said...

Thanks for the linkage, E!

gracefruit said...

You bet! :) Thanks for sharing your lovely photos.

jo said...

Hi
Sorry to hear you had a such a bad experience, but frankly, the lesson here is don't buy anything from somerfield that doesn't come in a brand name packet! There are plenty of budget supermarkets out there but somerfield is pretty dire.
We don't do buttercream here as I've had in the US, but if we make fairy/angel cakes at home we usually use 'butter icing' just cream together hard butter and double the amount icing sugar and a little vanilla essence until fluffy and pale. Wooden spoon is a must, and it may take some time. In the UK it is de riguer to make them fairy/angel cakes with wings though :)