Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes

It's pretty but looks can be deceiving. Back to the drawing board.

I woke on Sunday morning unusually motivated. Not only did I want to take the whole family (including the dog) for a walk by the lake but I got it into my head to make cupcakes. Since Lazy Sunday has been rattling around in my brain, I decided to use the Magnolia Bakery's recipe.

This recipe is excerpted from More From Magnolia: Recipes from the World Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey's Home Kitchen. People rave about these cupcakes and they look so gorgeous, I had to make them.

The final result was tasty and pretty but I think I could have done better. My biggest problem was keeping the butter at room temperature -- or rather, warmer than room temperature. It's been very cold here this week, with temperatures below freezing, and my kitchen is always cold. I left the butter on the counter to soften but after two hours, it remained solid. Even after microwaving, the butter re-hardened once inside my KitchenAid mixer (which lives on the cold counter). I ran the KitchenAid bowl (sans butter) under some hot water, which worked temporarily. Then I pulled out my hairdryer and aimed it at the bowl while I mixed. Fun but overall, probably detrimental .

The recipe says to mix the butter for 3 to 5 minutes, which caused the butter to separate into that odd curdled look that overbeaten butter can get. Not only did that happen with the batter, but with the frosting, as well. I can't help but think that my temperature issues were a large factor in this.

The cupcake flavor is quite good: delicate with vanilla notes. Next time, I'll increase the vanilla or add another essence; almond or orange would work nicely. The texture could have been finer; it's a bit chewy. I thought I overmixed the batter following the addition of the flour but after thinking about it I didn't -- I mixed the ingredients just until they were combined. I wonder if it's the self-rising flour.

As for the frosting, it's definitely edible: buttery and sugary and lovely tinted pink. There's something about it, though, that I'm not crazy about. As they point out in the recipe, it's not really a buttercream but "an old-fashioned confectioners' sugar and butter frosting" (the difference being, I think, that buttercream has more butter in it). Plus, I felt the flavor dominated, not complimented, the cake. I'd like to try another butter cream recipe with this cupcake, either vanilla or a good chocolate (mmm, imagine the combination of chocolate buttercream on top of an almond or orange flavored cupcake).

Grade: B- to B

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