Monday, January 2, 2012


Muffin tins get used often at our house, but if you see a muffin tin with paper liners in it, that probably only means one thing...Someone's having a birthday!!!  Yep, last night I was preparing for a birthday party for our youngest.  Cupcakes were in order, so I'm going to share some baking tips...

First, I found a great recipe over at SmittenKitchen (a fantastic cooking blog I have fallen in love with since my good friend told me about it...) for the best birthday cake - it's just a yellow cake with chocolate icing, and the icing is super easy to make!  I feel like I always get stuck with icings, and not having what I need.  Not enough butter, or no cream cheese...but this recipe is made of chocolate chips and sour cream, corn syrup and vanilla.  No big deal.  It was easy and delicious, and get this.  You know how easy icing from a can spreads?  So does this icing!  Yay!!!  The cupcakes were a big hit.  The recipe is for a double layer 9in round cake, and it made 28 cupcakes, so I have layers in my freezer awaiting her actual birthday, which is next week.  :)

When a recipe says sift together dry ingredients, I just use a whisk to stir it - isn't that so much easier than getting out the sifter?  I mean, really.  I've never had a recipe flop due to lack of sifter-use.  I'm also not a stickler for following the recipe perfectly.  This particular cake calls for buttermilk, which I had, but not quite enough.  Of the 2 cups of buttermilk required, 3/4 cup had to be plain ol' whole milk.  I didn't even add lemon or vinegar -  I just went with it, imagine that!

These are a couple of my favorite kitchen tricks.  One I learned from my mother-in-law and my searching through her cabinets.  Keep measuring spoons upright in a cup in the cabinet, instead of in a drawer.  They are easier to find, and you don't get a powdery mess in your drawer (which happened to me frequently, since I don't wash them after every use unless I'm measuring something liquid).  I am also...a spatula snob.  Yes, I admit it, a complete snob about the rubber spatula - LOVE Williams-Sonoma's rubber spatulas, and cooking with anything else is just not the same.  They scrape, they resist heat, they go through the dishwasher, they are just great.  And if you purchase them after holidays, you can find them half price, just because it is, say...December but the spatula is pumpkin orange...  Imagine that!!!  Stock up on them - you'll love them too.

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