Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Success, Failure, and Cupcakes

When I sent out my missive to the brave hearts of A-Z Year I included this suggestion:

Fail. Seriously consider attempting something you might not be all that good at. As adults we rarely take risks or put ourselves in positions where we might look Foolish. Take a dance class, try painting, bake a souffle - do something that might not work.

I firmly believe in walking the walk so I decided to tackle a few new recipes this fortnight - sketchy ones that I couldn't quite grasp the food chemistry of. All four recipes involved came from highly lauded internet foodies and if pictures don't lie, then they had great success with them. I won't post links as I'd hate to sully their good name with my incompetence.

Here is Buttermilk Vanilla Cupcakes (I forgot to take a pic of the praline frosting. Sorry):

Look at that sway-back, hollowed out nastiness. Ugh! And they were hard work and expensive too.

These are the Coke Cupcakes with Coke Frosting (forgot to photograph this frosting too - there was a repairman, I was teaching homeschool, the bread timer was announcing it needed punching... photos weren't a priority):

Before I continue, let's discuss flavor. The coke cupcakes were billed to taste like chocolate coke. But, instead, they tasted like watered-down cupcakes with a corn syrup after taste. Ew. The buttermilk vanilla ones were an outrageous sugar bomb and very crumbly. Ick. ( An aside: We were worried from step one about the buttermilk because the house had this horrible animal meets chemical stench as soon as I started cooking them. Turns out I had sat my leather-bound recipe book on an element set to low for over an hour. It was slow-roasting. *shudder* The page protectors are fused together; time to redo my recipes.)

I thought, and thought, and thought some more as quitting just isn't my style. Cake Pops were on my March To-Try list and they required crumbly cake and frosting - BAZINGA!

So I de-papered the mess, and crumbled the few bits that were baked hard enough to stick together:

And with a little effort, candy melts, sprinkles and lollipop sticks; we ended up with these:

Wanna see a close-up:

Yeah, that's some sort of oil that sweats through the cracks - appetizing!

The boys claim they are truffle-like and delicious. I had one bite of each flavor and fearing a sugar coma sat them back on the plate. Not for me.

Fortunately, for "F" Fortnight I made Fancy and Fabulous French Toast to save Face after all that Failure. I added 3/4 tsp of cardamon to my regular bread recipe. When I was forming the loaves, I pressed the dough into rectangles, sprinkled with cinnamon and rolled it up to make swirls. It's delicious and so pretty. I wish I had a picture but I have three boys, one teenaged, so the picture I do have was snatched out from under their fork.

We gilded the lily a bit with fresh warm cinnamon syrup. Delish.

Here's my bread recipe, it works well for whatever flour you prefer. I usually use half fresh-ground wheat and half all-purpose.

Finnish Cardamom Braids or Home Baked Bread
For regular bread, omit the cardamom and skip the italicized steps.

2 TBL yeast (two packages)
1/4 C warm water
2 C warm milk (we use soy milk, vanilla soy if making cinnamon rolls or any sweet breads)
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C softened butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
* 3/4 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
2 eggs
7-8 C flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk, sugar, butter, *cardamom, eggs and 3 C of flour.
Beat until smooth.
Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough.
Knead 6-8 minutes.
Place in greased bowl and rise to doubled (about one hour).
Punch down and shape into three loaves.

*If making cardamom braids: Divide dough in half and braid each half.

Cover and rise until doubled (about 45 minutes).

If making cardamon braids: Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with Finnish Sugar (it looks like rock salt - big crystals)

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden.

Brush the tops of the loaves with butter when they are still hot from the oven if you prefer.

I blogged at Gauche Alchemy today, I had the extreme pleasure of interviewing the amazing Melanie Testa. She rocks my socks off with her art quilts and mixed media projects. Wow.


Kerry said...

I will try those braids.

I tried and failed at making fudge and in my determination to have fudge this fortnight I bought some lol

Maggi said...

Boy, talk about a phoenix rising from the ashes...from the oven anyway. lol That French Toast looks delicious and those pops look very friendly!

Amy said...

Thanks for sharing all of your messes and success! Not all recipes come out great but at least you can find the humor in that! Those french toast look great!

MaryEllen said...

I made your eclair recipe, fully expecting that (1) they would be very hard to make, in spite of what you said, and (2) they would come out terribly. Neither was true, and my family was utterly impressed! So that was my big willing-to-fail moment - thank you!

Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

We had French Toast for dinner when Jeff was working late. It was decadent and lovely and a big hit!

Anonymous said...

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