Hummingbird Cupcakes

So I’ve been taking a little break from baking lately because I’ve been very busy trying to finish up my final few months of my Masters program. The end is near!  But, I got some really cute cupcake liners for Easter so I knew I needed to make some cupcakes ASAP.  Cupcakes and cakes, for that matter, seem like such a celebration type treat, so I don’t make them on a regular basis. Recently, I’ve seen Paula Deen make hummingbird cake a couple times, and I’ve seen it in various other places, but since I’ve never baked or eaten it, I thought I would give it a try.

Hummingbird cake seems to be a southern thing.  Based on the ingredients and the final product, I would say it’s in the same family as carrot cake and banana bread. It’s almost like an easier version of carrot cake because you don’t have to grate the carrots.  The other great thing about it is that they typical frosting choice is cream cheese.  Yum.

So I looked around at various recipes, and based on mainly ingredient choices I settled on a recipe from Bake or Break.  This blog has an endless amount of delicious baked goods. They always seem decadent, but refined. They’re not wrapping cookie dough around Oreos.  These people are real deal.

Anywho, the cupcakes turned out great!  They’re definitely a great way to mix up your cake repertoire!

Hummingbird Cupcakes

Yields supposedly 36, I got closer to 30, from Bake or Break

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3 cups  flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups chopped bananas
  • chopped pecans or sanding sugar, for garnish

Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 oz. powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350, and get the cupcake pans ready with the liners.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Add the eggs, oil and stir until mixture is uniform. Then add the vanilla, pineapple, banana, and pecans and mix until everything is relatively well distributed.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to distribute batter into cupcake trays.  Each cupcake should be about 2/3’s full of batter.Batter up
  5. Bake about 25 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before you put the frosting on top!aren't the cupcake liners cute?
  6. To make frosting cream together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer.  Once this mixture is light and fluffy, add the vanilla and the powdered sugar (add the sugar gradually).  Mix until frosting is uniform and fluffy.  Refrigerate for a few minutes before you put it on the cooled cupcakes.Frosted!

Happy Accident

Ok so usually baking is a rewarding venture for me.  I find a recipe, I follow it, make some tweaks here and there, get a yummy result, and get compliments from whoever I share it with.  Lately, though, I’ve had mixed results and mixed feelings.

This story starts out happy.  There was a birthday cake to be made.  In an effort to use up some extra buttermilk, I strayed from the standard family chocolate birthday cake recipe, to a version that trades regular milk for buttermilk.  It’s an Ina Garten recipe, and it turned out great.  So great, in fact, that it’s making my family rethink the traditional family birthday cake recipe.  With these chocolate cake recipes in my arsenal, buying a chocolate cake mix from the store is out of the question these days.

Fabulous cake: check.  Now onto the frosting.  My plan was to make “White Mountain Frosting” or “Seven Minute Frosting.”  Typically a combination of egg whites, sugar and water that yields a light fluffy frosting.  I have tried two different recipes three separate times (following the recipe to letter).  I can not get the frosting to fluff.  It falls flat no matter what I try.

To mitigate my repeated frosting disaster I used the flat frosting (which still tasted quite good) as the frosting between the cake layers, and a “glaze” for the top of the cake.  Then to disguise this monstrosity, I made a quick, easy chocolate frosting to cover the outside of the cake.aftermath

Crisis averted.  The funny thing was that the combination of the two frostings made for a very moist cake.  The flat White Mountain Frosting was almost like having a layer of marshmallow fluff under the chocolate frosting.

I guess some days the frosting fluffs, and some days it doesn’t…

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Yields 2, 9 inch rounds, recipe from Ina Garten

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups AP flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder, more for pans
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare pans by spraying with non-stick spray and coating with cocoa powder.  If you want to be extra cautious, cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of your cake pans.
  2. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet to dry gradually and beat with an electric mixer.  Finally add coffee gradually.
  5. Bake at 350 for 35- 40 minutes until a tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before you remove the cake from the pans.almost done

Flat White Mountain Frosting

From a very old Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar (my mom’s hypothesis is that this recipe is lacking the right about of sugar)
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Method

  1. in a small sauce pan combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup.  Cover and bring to a strong boil.  Take the lid off and bring to 242 degrees (use a candy thermometer).
  2. While the mixture is boiling, whip up the egg whites to stiff peaks.
  3. When the mixture has reached the right temperature, very slowly add it to the egg whites while you continue to beat them.  Add the vanilla and beat for about 7 minutes.  At this point the frosting is supposed to fluff up, but in my case it didn’t.  You win some, you lose some.

Chocolate Frosting

From an old Hershey’s Baking Chocolate wrapper

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash salt

Method

  1. Using a small saucepan over low heat or a microwave melt the butter.  Add the chocolate in small pieces and melt it with the butter.
  2. Put melted butter and chocolate in a bowl and add sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt.  Beat with an electric mixer until it reaches the desire consistency.  To thicken up the frosting place the bowl in an ice bath while you mix it, or refrigerate for a few minutes before frosting.Ready for FrostingSo. Much. Frosting.

Cookie Monster

Here’s an easy way to make a small tot happy. Surprise them with a cookie monster. Simply cut a cookie in two and put a layer of frosting between the two halves. Then pipe two dots of frosting onto the top half and place chocolate chips in the center for the eyes. Insert chocolate chips around the outer edge for a mouth. Now you have a friendly cookie monster for your little one.

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