Thursday, July 8, 2010

i make a good thing

i have a love-hate relationship with martha (you know which martha i mean). i oscillate between my ambition to emulate her homemade goodness and my desire to throttle her for lowering my self-esteem through impossibly concocted recipes and crafts like constructing a wreath from marshmellows and apple cores. she's like the f-ing macgyver of the domestic world.

i would like to reassure you that this is entirely one-sided. martha does not know me and there are no existing restraining orders.

her recipes are what really get me. complicated and demanding, yet described and executed with the grace of asking someone to sit down for tea. i'm sure she doesn't even break a sweat while constantly whisking egg whites and sugar in a heat-proof mixing bowl nestled on a pot of simmering water. i do, however. i know this because i attempted, for a holiday picnic, to make not one, but two types of martha cupcakes: roasted banana with honey-cinnamon frosting and strawberry with strawberry meringue buttercream. the whole venture required 8(!) sticks of butter and 11 eggs.
the roasted banana were the more difficult of the two cupcakes, but had the easier frosting.
1) preheat oven to 400. place 3 unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast 15 minutes. the peels turn dark brown and they are HOT. they are supposed to cool before peeling and adding them to the batter, but mine were still a little steamy. reduce oven to 350 after roasting bananas.
2) combine 2 cups cake flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 3/4 tsp salt. set aside.
3) cream 1 stick butter and 3/4 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. while creaming (for some reason, this always seems to take forever), separate 3 eggs. add yolks one at a time to butter and sugar.
4) scrape down sides of bowl as needed. add roasted bananas and beat to combine. add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with addition of total 1/2 cup sour cream. beat in 1 tsp vanilla extract.
5) in another mixing bowl with mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites to soft peaks. fold egg whites into batter in three additions.
6) fill lined muffin tins 3/4 full. bake at 350 for about 20min until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. transfer t0 wire racks to cool completely.
7) frosting: beat 2&1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp, 2 tbsp honey, and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon until smooth.
since the strawberry cupcake recipe is available online, i will just include the pain-in-the-ass-yet-delicious strawberry meringue buttercream frosting.
1) puree 8 ounces (1&1/2cups) coarsely chopped strawberries (hulled).
2) combine 4 egg whites and 1&1/4 cups sugar in heatproof bowl of electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water. whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to touch and sugar has dissolved. mixture will feel smooth when rubbed between your finger tips. (this is where the sweating began. my kitchen is freaking hot. and i was starting to get kind of pissed at this point.)
3) attach the bowl to the mixer and whisk at gradually increasing speed until stiff peaks form. continue mixing until mixture is fluffy, glossy, and completely cool (test by touching bottom of bowl). this takes about 10min.
4) with mixer on medium-low speed, add 3 sticks (1&1/2 cups) of butter a few tbsp at a time, mixing well after each addition. once all the butter has been added, scrape down sides of bowl with spatula and switch to paddle attachment. continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 min. add pureed strawberries and beat until combined. the result will be pretty, frothy pink frosting.
now, as a bonus fourth of july ohh-ahh, i actually went to michael's and purchased decorating tips and bags to pipe the icing onto the cupcakes rather than just slathering it on with an old pharmacy spatula like i normally do. i have never piped icing onto a cupcake before. the results were mixed (see below), and of course in no way resembled martha's masterpieces. but whatever.

behold! the mighty cupcake!

it seemed like everyone at the picnic enjoyed the cupcakes. it's important food be visually appealing, but let's face it, taste is what counts, right?


JKNEPFLE said...

The banana ones sound really good. Worth the effort?

I made these a couple weeks ago, and they were awesome:

k said...

the banana ones were very good, and worth it. although i don't know if roasting the bananas is actually important. next time i may just try mashing them.

those chocolate cupcakes with ganache sound heavenly. i'll have to give them a go.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you...I love Martha, yet I hate her at times. She does amazing work, but wow, is she condescending.

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