Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's Martha, Bitch! Vol. 12

Macarthur Parkcakes: Success at LAST!

Richard Harris' iconic recording of Jimmy Webb's "Macarthur Park" is the clear inspiration for these lovelies. Oh, what's that? You've never head the song? Yeah...I bet you've never heard the Donna Summer disco version either. ... Wait, what?

Jimmy Webb wrote this intense song a while back, and Richard Harris (yes, the first Dumbly-dore) recorded it for an album in 1968. Donna Summer recorded it in '78, and the rest is history! It also became part of the smash musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and was recently covered by yours truly. In cupcake form.

I set out to do these cakes a while back...this song is just TOO MUCH. I HAD to. I wanted to wait for a rainy sunday, and I finally got one this past weekend. It's Martha's buttermilk vanilla cupcakes recipe, which I may have tried once before...I cannot remember. This time, I really got everything measured out and added in perfectly. I did flub up and add a whole cup of water instead of a half--I was able to get the right about back out of the mix. Either way, whatever I did worked because THESE cupcakes felt AND tasted like the should have months ago. They were (are!) fluffy and soft, and moist, and light. I was so excited. It's no secret that I've had some density issues cooking on this stove.

If that wasn't enough, I tried another recipe for a buttercream frosting. I wanted to try something that didn't have butter - I can't get it the right consistency without adding pound after pound of powdered sugar, which just KILLS my teeth to think about. I want to try again, but in the mean time, I tried a recipe I found online. The difference? It called for Crisco instead of butter.

I know, gross right? Not to me. I don't really see Crisco as any worse than butter, and according to the baking sticks I bought, it actually is better. No saturated fats and it's mostly made with soybean and palm oil. I had seen recipes around that called for shortening before, but I dove right into this one. After getting the consistency just right, and adding a hint of coconut and lime flavor, I had made the prefect buttercream icing (green of course).

I added some tacky pink pearls to the tops because...I mean...it's the late '60s. I wanted something that felt as over the top as the song does...They actually don't look nearly as tacky as they could have (hence the pearls in the first pic. This is serious cake!) Either way, I am SOooo happy these came out delicious! I feel all proud and whatnot.

I've got to whip up some Halloween cakes this week, so I will probably post those on Sunday. Ideas for the week after? Send them my way! Maybe some cornbread muffin cakes with cranberry sauce? And a turkey leg? We will see!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's Martha, Bitch! Vol. 9 10, & 11 (I know!!)

Quadruple Feature (Part 1): Sassy Ladycakes and Tiff's Birthday!

Three weeks, huh? I know--it's my procrastination, and I apologize! It's normally not such a big problem. Wait...who am I apologizing to!? My slew of loyal readers? Haha. A guy can dream ;-) To those who do follow me, I do hope to keep this a one-cupcake-post per week thing, instead of lumping them all together. It keeps them a little shorter. Part 2 of this entry will be coming later today. Lots has been happening over the past few weeks. As I type I am wearing a dreadlock wig from Wal-Mart (don't ask) and nursing a giant hole in my mouth where a molar and a wisdom tooth used to be. (at the moment I am feeling quite queasy. Bleh.) I have been busy with work, trying to get a lot of design stuff done for the department and the university, as well as the usual teaching and whatnot. I also succumbed to Twitter, which has made for a much shorter attention span. Anyway, on to the baking projects from the past souple of weeks!

Sassy Ladycakes -aka- Fascinatorcakes!

These cakes were so much fun to make! They were also kinda intense. I was on a roll with my new baking knowledge of using the proper tools to measure the proper substances, and I noticed a difference in my cakes flavors and textures. I made Martha's Chocolate Chip cupcakes this week. I tried yet ANOTHER buttercream recipe, and well, that is getting very annoying y'all. It ALWAYS comes out too buttery, or too slippery in texture. I've been working on alternatives. I really am not the biggest fan of buttercream to begin with, so my failure at making a great one is starting to get to me. The real fun was the dehydrated pineapple flowers. Yes, those are pineapples!

In the end, these ladies tasted good (the pineapples were actually quite tasty too!), but the buttercream was a bit too much to handle. Too buttery and much too sweet. On to the next!

Tiffany's Dia de los Muertos Cakes!

My best friend Samm threw a surprise birthday party for her awesome sister, Tiff - and let me tell you, this thing was AWESOME! We did a Dia de los Muertos theme, which called for the tackiest thing I could think of in the way of cupcakes. Also, we were in east Texas, so now I have traveling cakes! Haha. There were some specifics requested for these cakes, so most of my job was to decorate them. I used a boxed strawberry cake, and mixed strawberry and vanilla canned frostings for the top. I know, it doesn't sound like a lot of work on my part, but in order to make up for it, I made my first royal icing decorations! If you notice in the picture above, I have these tiny little piped shapes all over the cupcakes, along with some gumpaste skulls that I painted with a gel paste/vodka mixture. I have a lot to learn about piping it seems, but I ended up with some interesting (and brightly colored!) accents for the cupcakes. The skulls were just too cute. FYI, Silpat is the BEST! The party was so much fun. Trey seemed to have a lot of fun making a giant tacky altar with Samm, using skulls, Mardi Gras beads, and whatever else we could find! We also played with a bunch of the worlds best doggies. Our allergies were pretty upset afterwards, but it was worth it!

Part 2 will feature a cake I've made, and a purse I just finished sewing! Look for that later today!