Friday, April 09, 2010
Playing with Chemistry
I'm a chemistry bug. I got a 105% in chem my senior year actually. I love it. I think that's why baking is so natural for me--it's chemistry. Look at a recipe for a cake--it's a formula. Cooking a steak isn't a formula. When you add heat, you essentially have all of the same things you started with only yummier. But baking is tasty science and, instead of just blowing off your eyebrows, you get to eat your work. Sure, you could use a mix and technically, it's still science. I use mixes sometimes too. (don't gasp, it's no secret; sometimes the babes need me or Mr. Devilin has Gundam downloaded). But, when no such distraction is around and I'm alone with my kitchen, I bake from scratch. It doesn't make me feel smarmy, it makes me feel like I'm feeding my family REAL food...and maybe being a bit of a mad scientist when nobody's looking.
There are some staple baked goods that everyone should have (you know, because I said so)....Vanilla cupcakes are on that list. I know, you're thinking "Um, no, chocolate please." Well, you gotta crawl before you can walk and you can always put chocolate buttercream on top so shut up and take some notes because you want this recipe (again, because I said so).
1/2#(yes, pound) of softened BUTTER (not margarine, throw that crap out!!)
cut the butter into cubes please
1 tsp vanilla (this would be a great time to use the good stuff, the REAL stuff you've been holding on to)
3 1/2 fl. oz milk (that's nearly half a cup)
11 1/2 oz cake flour (what??? you bought a cake tester but not a kitchen scale???? Honey, this is SCIENCE, buy the damn scale)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp KOSHER salt
12 oz sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare the muffin tins for about 1 1/2 dozen (give or take)
In a mixing bowl, mix all those dry ingredients (yes, with the sugar). Toss in the butter a few chunks at a time. Turn up the speed and look for the mixture to look like cornmeal or crumbly pie crust.
In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, vanilla and milk together. Pour ONE CUP of this mixture into the dry mix and turn up the speed of the mixer--this is the only time you are going to add air to your batter so whoop it up.
Turn down the speed and slowly stream in the remaining liquid. Scrape down the bowl and beater. Continue to blend the batter at a medium pace until the batter looses it's shine and turns matte and whiter.
Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl, folding from top to bottom, looking for chunks. Use an icecream scoop to fill the papers (that you've kindly sprayed) 3/4 full.
Bake until golden, feel free to rotate these beauties after 10 minutes if your oven sucks (like mine does).
Congratulations! Not only did you just score a highly coveted cupcake recipe from a professional, you just learn what is called "the biscuit method" and you just used science for good and not evil.