Posts Tagged 'buttercream'

Pipe Dream #111: To Have A Green Thumb – Olive Oil, Almond & Polenta Cupcakes

I’ve never liked gardening very much. Don’t get me wrong–I have tried to like gardening. I mean, it seems like a pretty cool and trendy and hipster thing to like, growing your own heirloom tomatoes and having an herb garden.
My excuses are that I never have time to do it, that I don’t have my own garden, and that I’m too busy, but what it really comes down to is the work of it. I don’t like the idea of standing out in the beating sun, breaking my back picking weeds and getting dirt under my fingernails. It’s supposed to be this extremely satisfying, relaxing thing, and I haven’t got the maturity to get it yet.
I might try it this year. The heirloom tomatoes, I mean. And to try and gear myself up for it, I am posting these flowery cupcakes I made. They are made with polenta and olive oil, which makes them feel even more garden-y. :] They were very light and eggy and almondy, since I substituted the vanilla for almond extract.
If I could do this recipe again, I would bake them in a regular oven, rather than the convection oven. There was a certain amount of crunch from the polenta which may or may not have been normal. I think if they were baked slower and longer, the polenta would have softened up a bit more.
I piped a swirl starting in the center of the cupcake, which made a flat surface upon which to arrange the flowers. Some of them featured a single bloom…
…while others were mini gardens unto themselves.
This is probably the best garden you’ll ever see out of me.
Someday I’ll grow up,
Olive Oil, Almond & Polenta Cupcakes
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Ready For Dessert
For the cakes:
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup polenta
or stone-ground corn meal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

  2. Smear 1 tablespoon butter all over the inside of a 10-cup (2.5-liter) Bundt cake or tube pan, or line 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners.. Sprinkle the 2 teaspoons of rosemary evenly into the pan, then dust with the 2 tablespoons (20 g) of polenta, tilting the pan to coat the sides.

  3. To make the cake, in a small bowl, sift together the flour, 3/4 cup (130 g) polenta, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, eggs, egg yolks, and almond or vanilla extract.

  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand), beat together 1/2 cup (4 ounces/115 g) butter and the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly dribble in the egg mixture, a little at a time, until completely incorporated. Stir in the flour mixture along with the 4 teaspoons of rosemary until just incorporated. Don’t over mix.

  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool for about 30 minutes, then invert the cake onto a serving plate.

For the buttercream:
2 sticks (226 grams) butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Pipe Dream #87: To Befriend People Who Don’t Like Chocolate – Walnut Blondies

This is a true pipe dream of mine. How close can we really be if you don’t like chocolate? Chocolate is a significant part of my life, and if it is not a significant part of yours, well…

Blondies are kind of the perfect dessert because they get people who don’t like chocolate. Although these interesting specimens are few and far between and barely deserve to be called human, I sometimes like to practice mercy and make non-chocolate desserts. With blondies, you get all the consistency of a brownie, and the absence of chocolate opens up the door to any number of interesting flavors. In this case, toasted walnuts.

The thing that attracted me to this recipe was that it didn’t include any baking powder or baking soda. This just speaks dense and rich to me. The opposite of angel food cake!


I added some frosting on the top not because I thought these needed it, but because I figured I might as well do as much as possible while I was in the kitchen. And bonus, frosting stars are cute. I’ll show you this frosting later because it is ultimately awesome.

And by ultimately awesome, I am for serious,



Adapted from How to Cook Everything

8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces or 113 grams) butter melted

1 cup (218 grams or 7 3/4 ounces for light; 238 grams or 8 3/8 ounces for dark) brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

pinch salt

1 cup (4 3/8 ounces or 125 grams) all-purpose flour

Butter an 8×8 pan (or line with parchment).

Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.

Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions, like toasted walnuts, or a 1/2-1 cup of anything that strikes your fancy.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. Underbake them a bit, duh, then let cool before cutting.

I Got It Right: Secret Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

My friend Tara came to visit me once. We had lots of fun, mostly eating burgers and chatting. She happened to visit during a bit of a busy time, so I spent a lot of time dragging her around to different events at which I was obligated to be. I don’t think she minded. She is very personable and happy.

And besides, we made the best chocolate frosting ever. And then no one was complaining. No one did complain. The complaints were non-existent.

Let me just say something about this frosting. It is crazy good. I have had–count ’em–four independent confirmations of its awesomeness. It is unlikely I will ever feel the need to improve upon it. It has some secwet ingwedients.

And we baked an excuse to eat frosting, vanilla cupcakes. I didn’t know it until later, but I actually made these cupcakes before. Here I was, thinking, “Oh, I’ll just try out a new vanilla cupcake recipe. It’ll probably be better than the last ones I made.”

They were better than the last ones I made, probably owing to Tara’s cheerful presence and butter-hwhipping skills. Do you know anyone that puts the h sound in front of their wh words? So weird for real. You can find the recipe for Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes here.

This is a picture of  Tara complaining about how I dragged her along all weekend. :] Isn’t she pa-retty?

To finish up, i sprinkled them with some leftover Heath bits. Although, these babies needed nothing, it was clear that they needed something.

Christ is life. Everything else is this chocolate buttercream,


The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Joy the Baker

makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes or one 8-inch layer cake

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Ovaltine (or hot chocolate mix, like I used)

Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a 1-cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.  You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream.  Spread or pipe onto cupcakes.

How To Layer A Cake

Layering cakes has become a pretty big part of my life. I mean, considering that I had never layered a cake before two years ago, they’ve pretty much taken over. I’ve layered so many cakes I should be re-named. Lauren the Layerer. Sounds sort of medieval, don’t you think? Like Franz the Ferrier or something. Ok. Moving on.

I made a two-tier cake for my friend Amber’s wedding this summer. Each tier had four layers. Please excuse me while I give myself a pat on the back for making a cake with four layers. I’ve never done it before, and splitting cake layers is a particular baking fear of mine.

Here’s how I layered it. Never mind my excessively messy hands. Please try and forget that I am not, in fact, a professional, and focus instead on my gloriously tan arms, courtesy of summer camp. Man, I’m falling more and more in love with myself as this post goes on. I feel a humbling situation coming soon.

Step One: Cut out a piece of cardboard fitted to the bottom layer of your cake. If you are doing the bottom tier of a cake, the cardboard can be a little bigger than the cake, but I tried to cut this one really close because it was a second tier. It will make your cake easier to frost later on.

Step Two: Bake individual layers to stack, or depending on what your recipe calls for, slice your baked layers in halves or thirds. That’s what I did on the cake above and it worked pretty well. There are plenty of tutorials on how to slice cakes if you cared to know.

Step Three: Pipe a big line of buttercream along the very edge of the cake tier. Make the frosting as thick as you want your filling to be else it’ll spill over, and that is no fun for anyone. Except perhaps sweet ants, who seem to have invaded the kitchen counter due to the high volume of weddings this summer. And by high volume, I mean three.

Step 4: Pick your poison. In this case, a luscious raspberry curd. Jist don’t let it spill over your frosting line.

Step 5: Add your cake layer and press down lightly to seal the filling inside. In this instance, I would have preferred a bit more filling (see how low it is?). But I was working with what I had. Improvising.

Step 6: Give your finished tier a good dirty ice and frost as desired.

This is how the final product will look. Pretty ok, eh? Layered cakes add such a delicate touch to any celebration. Go forth! You can do it!

Bye now, sweetums,


Pipe Dream #34: To Be Bismarckian – Lemon Curd Cupcakes

I just made up the word ‘Bismarckian.’ adj. possessing skills enabling the creation of filled donuts, cupcakes and other confections.

I can handle filling baked goods. Savory meals, though? I think it would be really hard to stuff calzones or make chicken kiev. For some reason, now all I can think about is one night a couple of years ago when I tried making basil and goat cheese stuffed chicken breasts. The chicken turned out fine, but the writhing of my internal organs due to excessive internal “vapors” was something to behold. Perhaps it was not the chicken breasts that resulted in what has become my most embarrassing moment, but I haven’t made a stuffed meal since. Telling.

So these are summer in a cupcake. No, really. When I bit into one I thought, “This reminds me of sprinklers and hot tar and sweat.”

Ok, so I exaggerate. They actually reminded me of lemons and vanilla and perfect boiled buttercream.

To fill them, I used the “cone method,” which is ideal for chunkier fillings. In my case, I filled them with lemon curd, which isn’t chunky at all. I didn’t have a piping filler at the time. It was tragic.

I picked some flowers from my mum’s garden to garnish them with. I thought the rustic slather of buttercream showcased them nicely. A regular cupcake bouquet, this is. A profusion of cupcake flowers.

You can find a vanilla cupcake recipe here. I’ve posted a really great lemon curd recipe below (requires no straining!), but you can always use store-bought lemon curd and save yourself the trouble of standing over a pot of boiling butter and lemon zest for a million minutes. I’m just giving you the facts.

Be summery and vapor-less,


Lemon Curd

Adapted from Fine Cooking

Yields 2 cups.

3 oz. (6 tbs.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 min. Slowly add the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 min. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.

In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth. (The curdled appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts.) Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 min. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170°F on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture boil.

Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.

I Got It Right: Bakery Buttercream

Oh, but I am a lucky girl.

I have these massive lists of bookmarks on my web browser marked “To Try.” The “To Try” folder is filled with recipes that look irresistible and/or are impossible for me to recreate due to my lack of skill/time/patience. But I still stick the impossible recipes in there to inspire me and to push myself to be better. I was looking through the folders trying to clear out recipes that I had already tried and links that had expired when I came upon this frosting recipe.

It was such an unassuming web page. The design wasn’t super appealing, and the recipe sounded unusual. And the recipe included shortening. That is actually the main reason I decided to try it–I actually had shortening on hand. “What up, Lauren? You had shortening on hand?” Yes. I did. And I’m not sorry.

This frosting is incredible. It pipes beautifully (my piping adventures to be posted soon), has a smooth, firm consistency, and didn’t crust over forEVER. It is like the fries in the Extras on the DVD “Super Size Me.” I’m sure if I would have left these cupcakes under a glass jar, they never would have gone moldy.

I used my go-to one bowl recipe, and used a piping tip to add some chai-spiced cream cheese frosting in the middle. They were fab.



Really Awesome Buttercream

Adapted from

Makes 3 3/4 cups

1 cup vegetable shortening

4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon clear imitation vanilla extract (or regular extract–it didn’t turn brown or anything)

3 ounces heavy cream

Food coloring as desired

With an electric mixer, beat shortening until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and continue beating until well blended.
Add salt, vanilla, cream of tartar and heavy cream, beating on low speed until moistened, and adding more heavy cream if you feel the frosting is too dry. Add food coloring if desired. Beat at high speed until frosting is fluffy.

Pipe Dream #14: To Be Little Debbie – Oatmeal Cream Pies with Cinnamon Buttercream

Because butter is such a prized commodity in my house, and I use it so often, I try and do a little research before I dive into a new recipe. For example, I could google ‘vanilla cupcakes recipe’ and the first link might be moist and flavorful, or it could be a total bust. No one likes a dry, vanilla-less vanilla cupcake.

Instead of just printing off the first recipe to meet mine eyes, I usually poke around a bit, read comments, compare ingredients, that sort of thing. In the end, I can either find a recipe that is perfect, or I can adjust a decent recipe to be as I think it should be (which as we know, could be not so great, but we’ll just pretend I have brilliant baking ideas all the time).

In the case of these oatmeal cream pies, which were slapped together very quickly on a Monday morning, I did not do the proper research. They were good, but the cookie was not as soft as I would have liked. No one complained about the cinnamon buttercream, though. That was real good. It was a little different, you know? Not your average Little Debbie cream filling. It was very whippED.

Which pleased me and the b stud girlies.

I don’t eat all these by myself. Usually,


Oatmeal Cream Pies with Cinnamon Buttercream

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

For the cookies:
1-¼ cup Flour
1-½ cup Old Fashioned Oats
½ teaspoons Baking Soda
½ teaspoons Salt
½ teaspoons Cinnamon
1 stick Butter, Softened
¾ cups Packed Brown Sugar
1 whole Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

For the buttercream:
3 cups Powdered Sugar
1 stick Butter, Softened
½ teaspoons Cinnamon
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons Milk

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and mix until smooth, then add the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Bake 1 Tablespoon-sized (or a bit smaller; mine were a bit large) balls of dough on a lined baking sheet for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Let cool while preparing the filling.

For the filling, cream together the powdered sugar and butter until smooth. Add the cinnamon, vanilla extract and milk and whip on high speed for five minutes until very light and fluffy.

To prepare cream pies, the original recipe uses a piping bag to dole out the frosting. I used a spoon. Not as pretty, but not the worst, and I’m all for not cleaning out another piping tip.

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