OK, not your basic cupcake recipes. But wow!
This weekend, we had a party attended by about 40 of our closest friends and neighbors. Rather than stick with the typical sugar cookies or pumpkin pie (which is kind of a hassle for everybody to eat easily) I thought I’d try out a new cupcake cookbook that I recently purchased.
As a fair warning, I consider myself to be a member of the cupcake baking club that is more interested in the flavor or the cupcakes than in the decorating. So when you see my photos below, you’ll understand that I’m all about food that tastes good, not about food that necessarily hits the design highs. I just don’t have time for that. In fact, just so you get an idea of what I cooked and baked between the time I got home from work on Friday night and the party, which started at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, here’s a list:
- Cocktail Meatballs (Emiril Lagasse recipe on the Food Network site, to die for.)
- Bacon BonBons (A pain to make, but unbelievably delicious-props to Gitane Restaurant in San Francisco and the 7×7 site.)
- Sourdough batards with olives and Asiago (4 loaves)
- Plain chocolate cupcakes (1 dozen)
- Old Fashioned Cupcakes (1 dozen, from the Butch Bakery Cookbook)
- Sweet Mama Cupcakes (1 dozen, from the Butch Bakery Cookbook)
So, as you can tell, I was busy. But that’s how it is when you’re trying to create a great party, and especially when you’re trying out new cupcake ideas!
I’m not going to include the recipes here, because if you bake cupcakes, this is one book you should add to your bookshelf. The Butch Bakery Cookbook by David Arrick with Janice Kollar, and photography by Jason Wyche, is one of those wonderfully bound, solid cookbooks, written with a sense of humor and accurate directions. These cupcakes are amazing. Many of the cupcakes have some form of alcoholic beverage in them, but I did make a few without the alcohol and they were outstanding in flavor, moistness, and delectability!
The Old Fashioned cupcakes are not old fashioned in the normal sense of the word, but are modeled on the flavors of an Old Fashioned, a tangy and refreshing whiskey highball that was popular in the 50s and 60s, right up there with Manhattans and the old Tom Collins. I made the Old Fashioned cupcakes with orange juice, orange zest (which gave me a chance to try out my new microplane), and a bit of Jack Daniels. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that the frosting recipe (from which I omitted the alcohol and substituted a little heavy cream) was a big hit on plain chocolate cupcakes, as well.
The biggest hit was clearly the Sweet Mama, which was a memorable combination of a cinnamon-flavored cupcake, with a dollop of a maple-syrup and apple compote, covered by a rich buttercream frosting. Both the compote and the frosting featured a bit of Laird’s Applejack Brandy, which I found at a well-stocked liquor store on my way home from work on Friday night. The apple compote lent the cupcakes a special note, turning them from a kid’s dessert into a layered, cobbler type of cake, with a distinct Autumnal flavor. At the end of the night, there were two of those left, but only because I had set them aside so my wife could have them.
The cupcakes in this cookbook require a little bit of study, but they are not difficult. There are several steps to most of them, however, so if you’re not committed to reading closely and following the steps, I suggest you try a more basic cupcake recipe. Fortunately, Mr. Arrick does a great job of breaking the big steps down for you. I started to get ahead of myself at first, but realized that jumping around the recipe was going to end in disaster, or at the very least, was going to cause me some level of confusion and frustration. So, I just backed up, took a deep breath and followed his directions to the T. You should too!
If you’re new to baking, you may not realize what a difference it makes to add ingredients in a particular order, or to sift the dry ingredients together first. I’ll admit, I was once one of those impatient bakers who just wanted to get the thing done. I’d throw all of the ingredients into a bowl together, sort of like how I did my laundry when I was in college (Whites? Colors? Uh, what’s the difference?). After a number of disastrous attempts at baking sweets, I learned to follow those instructions very closely. The result has been positive.
The Butch Bakery Cookbook details over 30 amazing cupcake recipes. Like I mentioned earlier, the book is also a valuable repository of ideas for decoration, and for flavor mixing. The orange zest laced buttercream frosting for the Old Fashioned cupcake was a zingy addition to the plain chocolate cupcakes I made for those who preferred their chocolate vice to a liquor confection. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.