baking Archives | The Pickled Ginger


Fluffy Moist Lemon Cupcakes with Lavender Buttercream Icing

by ColleenTags: , , , Categories: Recipes

We’ve already established my love of cake and baking, right? Well, I’m coming at you with another great recipe. This one is a bit exotic though, and not for everyone. Are you ready? Here goes: Fluffy, moist, lemony cupcakes with delicate lavender-infused buttercream icing. Can you handle it? If so, read on!

This very simple recipe starts with a delicate white cake flavored with real lemon juice and lemon zest, then topped with a basic American buttercream infused with perfumy lavender. Now admittedly, I am not a huge fan of lavender in food, but my husband and daughter just can’t get enough. What we can agree on, however, is that the contrasts in flavors between the zesty cake and the sweet icing perfectly compliment each another.

Here are the ingredients:

For the cake:

Helpful Hint: For optimal results, please let all of your ingredients come to room temperature. This allows everything to mix well without separating, and really helps your cakes to get a good rise!

• 2 cups of cake flour (the low gluten content of cake flour makes this cake super fluffy, so for best results, cake flour is necessary)
• 1 ½ cups of sugar
• 2 ¼ teaspoons of baking powder
• ½ teaspoon of salt
• 2 large eggs
• ¼ cup whole milk
• ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
• ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
• The juice and zest of one large lemon
• One tablespoon organic dried lavender (I got mine at Whole Foods Market) and/or good quality food-grade lavender essential oil (I get mine at Vitamin Shop or Whole Foods Market or my local co op)
I use a stand mixer, but you could certainly use a hand mixer if that is what you have.

After lining your muffin tins with muffin papers and preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, start by combining flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.

Add in your butter and coconut milk and beat for a good 2 to 3 minutes in your stand mixer (or with your hand mixer). After 3 minutes, your mixture should be smooth and fluffy.

 

mixing bowl

 

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and whole milk together, add in your grated lemon zest and lemon juice. Make sure your lemon is also room temperature to get the most juice. I also like to roll my lemon firmly on the counter a few times just to release the juices and oils to get the most from it.

Add your milk, egg and lemon mixture into the fluffy batter and mix just until well incorporated. The less you mess with eggs, the softer and fluffier your cupcakes will be. Just make sure they are well incorporated into your batter.

Use an ice cream scoop to fill your muffin tins ¾ of the way full. I’ve made the mistake of overfilling my muffin tins before and the mess is a pain to clean up.

 

caketins

 

Once filled, tap muffin tins gently on the counter to release air bubbles, then place in preheated oven and bake.

I managed to get 17 cupcakes from this batter and they took 12 minutes to bake, but I highly suggest relying on your eyes than a timer to tell you when these cakes are done. Their little domed tops should still be fairly white with barely a hint of color around the edges and the top should spring back when you gently press with your fingertip. This batch pictured was a little overcooked, resulting in an almost crunchy top, while the cake underneath was perfectly moist, tender and fluffy. I should have pulled them out at 11 minutes, maybe even 10. A mere minute can make a huge difference, so really keep an eye on your cupcakes.

 

coolingrack

 

After letting them cool completely on a rack, mix up your favorite buttercream frosting. I didn’t include a recipe in this post simply because I’ve experimented with several different icings, they all work, and everyone has a favorite. For the classic American buttercream icing, simply warm your whole milk or cream (whichever you use) gently with the dried lavender. Then pull off of the stove and let the lavender steep for 20 minutes. Strain the milk/cream through a fine sieve to get rid of the lavender bits and incorporate into your buttercream mixture. If you prefer a stronger lavender flavor, put a drop or two of the essential oil into the mixture. A little goes a long way, so always start out with less and incorporate more as you need.  I ended up using the lavender-infused cream and the essential oil.  I would have been fine with one or the other; my family loved the stronger flavor.

I also made a version with a Swiss meringue buttercream and just used the essential oil. Both versions were a hit with my friends and family.

If you desire, you can put a drop of lavender food coloring (or combine a drop each of red and blue) to give your buttercream color.

 

icedcakes

 

Top your cupcakes and enjoy!


Fluffy Homemade Nutella-Vanilla-Striped Marshmallows

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , Categories: Recipes

With all of the bonfires my family has been  attending this fall, it’s been a challenge coming up with something different to bring to each one, so as not to bore our friends.

As the bonfire we had gone to about a month ago had included mostly teenagers, it seemed only fitting to bring something that would cater to their incessant desire to be standing close to the blaze, sticks in hand and continually poking aimlessly into the  alluring flames. What better than roasting marshmallows to give them a sense of purpose whilst fulfilling their innate pyromania?

Now I’ve made marshmallows before (and let me confess, I’m really not a fan of the things), but these marshmallows were such a hit that well before the kindling had ever been lit, the packages of Hershey’s chocolate bars and boxes of graham crackers I had piled on top of the giant plastic container full of these fluffy chocolatey, hazelnut wonders were discarded early on, and children and adults alike were snacking on my marshmallows with their chips and dip.  Can you blame them? I mean who doesn’t like Nutella?

Admittedly, my intention initially had been to make these ‘mallows solid Nutella, but after the first batch were spread in the pan, I was disappointed by how thin and flat they were.  That’s when I got it into my head to make another batch of plain vanilla ‘mallow “batter” to see if spreading it on top of the Nutella batch was feasible.  I didn’t want to risk wasting any precious Nutella on a hypothetical. But as it turns out, adding a layer on top of another works splendidly, and so for the sake of aesthetics I simply made an additional batch of the Nutella batter, layered it over the vanilla, and Voila! My Nutella-vanilla-striped marshmallows were born!

I was not only surprised by how much everyone loved them, but also how nicely they toasted and melted, making the gooey s’mores the highlight of the evening. Best of all, they’re so easy to make!  Let’s get started!

Each recipe makes one layer of the marshmallow. I suggest doing each sequence three times if you are planning on layering as I did.

**For the second layer, the vanilla, Simply omit the Nutella.**

If you’re feeling really confident, I suppose you could simply triple your recipe and stir the Nutella by hand into 2/3 of your batter, but work quickly! The batter begins to dry pretty speedily and may get too rubbery to spread. I found that it was just easier to repeat the recipe for each layer.

You will need (for each layer):

3 packets of plain gelatin

1 cup cold water, divided in half

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or extract. I love the appearance of all the vanilla bean bits in the paste)

4 tablespoons nutella

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup corn starch

Place the gelatin in a clean bowl of your stand mixer and cover with half a cup of cold water. Let it sit.

Place the rest of the water, the granulated sugar, salt, and the corn syrup inside of a medium saucepan with a lid. Place over medium high heat, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

After 4 minutes, uncover the mixture, place your candy thermometer on the side, and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees.

Once mixture reaches 240 degrees, immediately take off of the heat.

Place your whisk attachment on your stand mixer and turn on low.
While mixer is going, slowly pour the sugar mix into the bowl.

Once all of the sugar syrup is added, turn the mixer to high, and let it continue to mix for about 12 minutes until thick and glossy.  While stand mixer is running, mix together the corn starch and powdered sugar.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and dust it with some of the powdered mixture. Make sure all sides are covered. Place the leftover powdered mixture to the side to use for later.

Place the 4 tablespoons of Nutella in the microwave and heat for about 10 seconds to soften.

Pour in the vanilla and let mix for 1 minute, then add the Nutella and and let it swirl into the marshmallow mixture for about 1 minute.

Turn off mixer, and with an oiled rubber spatula, pour the marshmallow mix into the prepared pan. Put in refrigerator while next layer is being mixed.

Repeat the above steps for each layer, simply spreading on top of the previous. (For vanilla layer, simply omit Nutella).

Once the final layer is spread in the pan, lightly dust the top with your corn starch and powdered sugar mixture and place pan in fridge to set. Some recipes day to let set overnight, while my marshmallows took only an hour to set.

Alternatively, you could just triple the recipe, including the Nutella and just make them straight Nutella flavor. Nobody would complain!

After the marshmallows are set, turn them out onto a cutting surface and cut them into your preferred shapes and sizes, and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Be sure to put the remainder of your corn starch-powdered sugar mixture in with the marshmallows to prevent them from sticking to one another.

Bon Appetit!


Cake and Squirrels

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , Categories: Uncategorized

It’s a rainy, chilly fall day here in NC, and while I am fully aware that this will become old really quick, for now I am enjoying it. I’ve been missing the autumns I enjoyed when I lived in the North, but the trees lately in NC have been glorious!

On the weight loss progress front, I have not much to report, so I will hold off numbers and photo until next Tuesday. My no-sugar streak lasted 16 days. I had a party to attend on Saturday that included cake and alcohol and while I never had any cravings or intense desire for any sugar, I did modestly partake. I was handed a couple drinks containing vodka and juice and I drink them. Also, I had a little cake. I was surprised that I stopped myself at a little, because it is commonly known to my friends and family that I LOVE cake.

What was even more surprising to me, however, was the effect that the sugar had on me. I came home and had the most difficult time sleeping. My body was buzzing and my heart was racing until about 7:00 Sunday morning, when I finally managed to fall asleep. I woke up at about 11:00 a.m. Sunday with some crazy heartburn that lasted most of the day. I am happy to say that I am now back on track and off the sugar, ready to aim for a full 21 days at least.

Before I go, I want to share a picture of the little squirrel my husband put on one of the cakes for the party last minute. He modeled it (and the acorns) in minutes out of homemade modeling chocolate and it was a real hit!

squirrely

 

Have a wonderful day!


Transformation Tuesday 5/19, No Change, Whiteboards

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , , , Categories: Weight Loss Journey Progress

Well, it’s Tuesday, that time again. The results are not impressive, let me be honest.

It’s been an insane past week and weekend, as I knew it would be. I had two big cake projects to complete for Saturday and it was stressful. I say this every time I make a cake, but I’m going to say it again. I don’t care if I never see cake again! Of course that will only last a few weeks. We all know I love cake.

Surprisingly, I didn’t eat much cake at all. For the wedding I made a three-tiered cake that included a 12-inch white cake with fresh strawberry butter cream filling and then 9 and 6-inch tiers of dark chocolate cake with hazelnut mocha butter cream filling. The entire thing was covered in vanilla Swiss butter cream. Once we delivered and cut the cake, I tasted a very fine sliver of the vanilla cake.

That same evening, we then delivered a two-tiered white/vanilla cake with the strawberry butter cream filling and then came home and collapsed into bed, but not before I downed an entire bottle of Cab Sav. Ugh. When I woke up the next morning, my legs looked like tree trunks. Also, while I truly didn’t think much about eating all weekend due to the cake mess in my kitchen and stressful deadline, I did grab a veggie pizza one night for convenience and had three slices.

So here it is, Transformation Tuesday and you’re looking for results! So, drum roll please…. No change. None. Not one pound more; not one pound less. I’m relieved. I did manage to get three workouts in last week so the week was not a total loss.

However nonchalant I may seem, I am committed. Yesterday I ate a lot of steamed broccoli and some chicken and finished the evening off with salmon and a nice kale and spinach salad. No wine, and lots of water. I went to the store yesterday and filled my fridge with greens and vegetables and made sure there was no wine in the house to tempt me.

I’m about to go do my workout for the day (obviously the early morning workouts aren’t happening for me) and I have a plate of chicken and steamed veggies waiting for me when I’m finished.

In other news, business for my husband and me has been… busy. We’ve gotten into whiteboard animations through our joint company and I’ve decided to start incorporating the whiteboards into my blog for a more entertaining and engaging feel. I hope you will feel free to give me honest feedback. Until then, my friends, have a wonderful day!


Almost Perfect White Cake

by ColleenTags: , , , , , Categories: Recipes

Recipe time!  I’ve got cake on the brain, can you tell?  In fact, I think it would not be a stretch to say that I am smitten with it – obsessed.  My nearest and dearest know this and hence, I’ve been the go‑to when it comes to making cakes for their events, including a wedding cake for a dear friend next month.
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Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Cinnamon Butter Cream Icing

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , Categories: Recipes

Fall is in the air!  Well not really here in North Carolina, not yet anyway.  We’re into September; it’s not even noon, it’s already 86 degrees and we’re anticipating some really muggy weather in the low 90s but a girl can dream, right?
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