April 28, 2012

Hummingbird Bakery Lavender Cupcakes Recipe (Adapted for High-Altitude)

"Many people can't imagine eating a lavender-infused cake, but this flavor is very popular in the summer. Infusing the milk with lavender flowers makes the flavor subtle. The frosting can be left plain, or you can use a bit of food coloring to give it a light lavender color."
- The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

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April 26, 2012

Hummingbird Bakery Lavender Cupcakes, High-Altitude Style

Hey folks!

I have some exciting news: I quit my job! My last day of work is officially tomorrow. I am BEYOND excited.

I wish I could say that I did something heroic like this blogger from Yum and Yummer, who quit his job to pursue his food-related passions full time (beginning with embarking on an epic culinary tour of Europe, mo jealous!). But my story is much less glamorous than that -- simply, I hated my job. A lot. Somewhere along the long, miserable grind of my job(s?), I realized that I had spent the last few years trying to follow a plan that wasn't really right for me. So now I'm just recalibrating, taking a break before the Next Big Step (and BIG it is! but more on that later) to work on the things that I know will make me happy.

... like this blog!

It's only fitting that the next recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook is for lavender cupcakes with lavender buttercream frosting. This recipe is the first one that I actually made immediately after purchasing the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook:

(iPhone camera)

April 24, 2012

Hummingbird Bakery Black Bottom Cupcakes Recipe (Adapted for High-Altitude)

"The black bottom cupcake looks innocent, but packs a punch! A dark chocolate cake with a dollop of cheesecake baked into it, we top ours with Cream Cheese Frosting for extra impact. The chocolate base is different from our normal chocolate cupcakes -- it's darker, slightly less sweet, and marries well with the cheesecake center. Omit the cream cheese frosting for a more moderate treat."
- The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

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April 22, 2012

High-Altitude Hummingbird Bakery Black Bottom Cupcakes, Pt. 3: Fixing that Cream Cheese Batter

Okay, admittedly, the cream cheese batter didn't really need too much fixing. But being the perfectionist that I am, I was pretty irked by the fact that my cream cheese topping looked different from the Hummingbird Bakery's topping:



If you look at the two pictures above, you can see that the Hummingbird Bakery's cream cheese topping (the picture up top) is far thicker and much more substantial than the cream cheese toppings that I have produced so far.

April 17, 2012

High-Altitude Hummingbird Bakery Black Bottom Cupcakes, Pt. 2: Temperature Adjustments

So I spent this last rainy Saturday experimenting with different temperatures at which to bake the Hummingbird Bakery's recipe for Black Bottom cupcakes:

Recall that, although I had fixed the chocolate batter, the cupcakes themselves still came out undercooked. The original recipe's instructions called for the cupcakes to be cooked at 325 (F) -- in fact, almost all of the recipes in the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook instruct that their cupcakes be baked at 325 (F). This is almost always too low for high-altitude environments. I've had to increase the temperature of most Hummingbird cupcake recipes to get the baked goods to set quickly and prevent them from overexpanding.

April 15, 2012

High-Altitude Hummingbird Bakery Black Bottom Cupcakes, Pt. 1: Fixing That Chocolate Batter


Better, right?

Okay, so this time I made sure to follow the recipe's instructions PRECISELY. In fact, it took me twice as long to cook this batch of Black Bottom cupcakes because I kept double-checking each step of the recipe along the way.

So when I got to the part about adding the liquid ingredients (sunflower oil, vinegar, vanilla, water) to the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking oil), I was especially cautious. Last time, I screwed up because I just dumped the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. The recipe, however, instructs the baker to slowly add the liquid ingredients while increasing the speed of the blender as the mixture thickens. I figured that my incorrecting mixing might have been the reason why I ended up with such a clumpy chocolate batter.

But lo and behold, even with the correct mixing method, I still ended up with the same clumpy batter that the incorrect mixing method had also produced:


What gives?!

April 12, 2012

The Science of Failure: Black Bottom Cupcakes Edition

So, this is what Hummingbird Black Bottom Cupcakes are supposed to look like:


And this is how my Hummingbird Black Bottom Cupcakes turned out:


Ugh.

Guys, there were so many things that went wrong during this recipe that I don't even know where to begin.

April 9, 2012

Hummingbird Bakery Black Bottom Cupcakes, High-Altitude Style

Hey folks!

Sorry about the brief hiatus in my posting -- I've actually been out of town for the last few days to attend some dear friends' wedding down in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The wedding was absolutely beautiful, and it was really amazing to see all my friends again. With so many of us scattered throughout different states, it's rare that we get an opportunity to see each other in one place. So of course, we had to take advantage of this fact by taking some silly photos:


And this being a baking blog, I had to share a photo of their beautiful wedding cake:


Isn't it lovely and adorable? If only my decorating skills were of that caliber! The orange tiers were a chai cake with some sort of butternut cream layer underneath the fondant, while the blue tier was a chocolate-orange cake with a meringue layer. Yum. Also note that Santa Fe is another high-altitude city, approximately 7,000 ft above sea-level -- so props to the cake makers for a beautiful high-altitude cake.

So again, congratulations to Sophie and Tim! Since this is the first wedding I've been to in a while, I'm not too sure about what the appropriate words are -- may your marriage be long and blessed, wonderful and happy. Is that too cheesy? Sorry.

April 3, 2012

Vanilla Root Beer Float Cupcakes

Back in college, I developed a fondness for root beer floats. It was during the summer that I biked across the country; there was nothing better than stopping at a small roadside diner at the end of an 80-mile long ride and guzzling down a tall glass of root beer and ice cream. When I couldn't find a diner to fulfill my root beer float fix, a cycling team mate recommended buying a can of root beer and mixing it with a glass of whole milk. It was almost as delicious as authentic root beer floats.

So it's no surprise that one of my favorite finds since moving to Denver is Morning Fresh Dairy's Old Fashioned Root Beer Milk:


It's pretty self-explanatory -- Morning Fresh Dairy has come up with the genius idea of selling bottled root beer flavored milk. But this particular brand takes deliciousness to a whole other level -- in fact, I'd even say that their root beer milk is far superior to any of the floats I had on my bike trip. I think they must use some sort of fatty, creamy milk (similar to Straus Family Creamery milk in San Francisco, for all you Bay Area readers out there) because it is honestly some of the best milk I've ever drank. I've tried recreating Morning Fresh's root beer milk on my own, but to no avail. Whatever. I'm happy to keep buying bottles at Whole Foods (they're pretty decently priced, just watch out for that bottle deposit).

But the other day, when I was walking over to Whole Foods to get my root beer milk fix, I had a crazy idea. Why don't I substitute the whole milk used in Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcakes with root beer milk? Combine two of my favorite things -- root beer floats and cupcakes!


So without further ado, here is my recipe for Vanilla Root Beer Float Cupcakes... for high-altitude, of course.

April 1, 2012

Orange Madeleines with a Honey-Orange Glaze

So, remember in my last post, I was able to adapt i am a food blog's recipe for Earl Grey madeleines by panicking and changing the oven temperature halfway through baking time?



Well, I spent the last week playing around with the recipe's temperature to see if I could get a more accurate high-altitude adjustment. I started out by increasing the recipe's bake temperature from 350 (F) up to 375 (F). BIG MISTAKE. The batter started bubbling furiously, dripping out of the madeleine pan and onto the oven floor, causing giant columns of smoke to build up in the oven. Yikes.

The madeleines themselves weren't that great. There was something off about their texture -- they had a soggy crumb and shockingly greasy. My boyfriend even asked me if I had fried the madeleines in butter -- in a way I had, considering how much the batter bubbled in the oven.

Unfortunately, none of my usual sources had any high-altitude adjustment recommendations for madeleines, so I turned to Foodgawker. I saw some interesting tricks -- like sticking your greased madeleine tray in the freezer to help prevent the butter in the batter from bubbling ferociously -- but the most appropriate I saw came from a blog called Nourished Kitchen. Although the recipe was for gluten-free madeleines, the author used a bake temperature of 365 (F) and warned other bakers to decrease the temperature since she lived at an elevation of 10,000 ft.

Hm. Although Denver's elevation is half of that, I wondered if it was worth a shot. Perhaps 375 (F) was too dramatic of an increase -- maybe 365 (F) was just right.

And so it was!


So, without further ado, I present to you a recipe for madeleines... adapted for high-altitude! (Please note that the original, sea-level recipe I used is from i am a food blog -- all I did was Earl Grey tea with orange zest.)