Sunday, 9 September 2012

Rustic Weekend - Custard Cupcakes by teh cupcake noob

First: Look at these amazing cupcakes baked by yours truly!
I take a mean picture of a cupcake, if I say so myself. 
Pinterest is festooned with sexy gorgeous photos of tasty-looking delights such as these, and I like to wonder what went into them. I do love a good story of a cake pop fail. So, like a VH1 special, let me tell you the story behind the cupcakes.

Husband and I have 'rustic weekends' because for so long, husband and I did not get to spend time together.  We couldn't shop, cook, bake or watch movies together as we had at Grad school.  We celebrated our first anniversary in separate countries. Now we're living together like newlyweds, so weekends are full of simple shared rustic activities. And I am determined to bake. Correction: I am determined to bake successfully.

I am not a natural baker. I just feel so constrained by the rules. I get frustrated that baking doesn't work like making a stir-fry, where I can just throw stuff in a pan and hope for the best. My favorite cookbook on my shelf is The Flavor Thesaurus. No recipes, just tasty flavor combinations that I can throw together. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Believe me and my family, you're taking your chances when you visit me for dinner.

Baking doesn't work like that. Baking is sweet, delicious science. My husband is a great baker because he went to military school and he's a stickler for rules. A lot of these Rustic Weekend posts feature his handiwork, not mine.

Some of the baked goods I've previously attempted used the Mary Berry Baking Bible. She's a British Baking stalwart and scary Bake-off judge. You don't want to get on the wrong side of her baking beans, that's for sure. Her recipes are in metric and imperial, which is a huge help for an expat still weighing up the differences between ounces and grams. Or not.

This US household has no scales, so I've had to resort to using US cup measurements. Complex mathematical equations are needed per ingredient. This isn't as precise as Mary Berry would deem acceptable, and results in some heavy sponge. Heavy sponge is not as rocking as heavy metal.

So for these cupcakes, I used the famous Magnolia cupcake recipe. I know these babies taste good, having queued up in Manhattan for them before like a proper sugar-starved hipster. Plus there was a lawsuit over this recipe, so I reckoned it must be water-tight. It also uses cups. Faultless, right?

I still managed to botch the whole thing by trying to halve the recipe. After more mathematical calculations and a spreadsheet full of altered cup quantities, I accidentally used double the milk I needed, so I had to throw in double of everything else. Limited by cake cases, the whole ordeal resulted in giant cupcakes.

Fortunately they worked. In your face, Berry.

Bulldog eyeing up cupcakes, cupcakes with flower, cupcakes with vintage owl trinket
The 'frosting' (aka icing in the UK) was a basic buttercream frosting, with a couple of teaspoons of Bird's Custard Powder thrown in. I was bored of following the rules at that point. 

They tasted fantastic by the way, but Pinterest doesn't care about that does it?

 Confess all your baking sins and disasters here, and we'll have a good ol' laugh about them. Either that, or tell me your favorite cupcake flavor combos. I'm desperate to try bacon chocolate.


  1. Omg, I am actually sitting in the library salivating over your cupcakes! They look amazing.

    Cook and bake, I cannot. I follow recipes precisely and they still look and taste awful most of the time.

  2. Thanks, hope you didn't get the keyboard wet ;)
    I once failed really badly to bake a banana bread - It was black on the outside and raw in the middle - So I was sure something would go wrong with these cupcakes. Maybe it's just a fluke, but I'm going to continue to think I'm now a fully fledged cupcake wizard.

  3. Oh myOh my they look delightfully good - and i'm loving the idea of throwing in some custard flavouring too. We asked a member of staff in a store for custard once, we got an awful crazed stare in return like we were speaking some Martian language. I actually don't mind working in cup form for baking although it's a bugger because I brought over a Mary Berry [speak of the devil] cookbook with me and I don't have the mind or energy to sit and convert the oz's into cup measurements. I needs me some vintage scales.

    1. The custard frosting was good, a variation on boring old vanilla. I think the custard powder was left over from when I brought it over (kind of as a joke) before we got engaged, back in 2009. I have no idea if it's still in date. Oh well, they tasted fine.

      I linked to a website that will convert into cups, but when I tried doing it the cakes end up very dense.