I've never been much of a baker. While I have always loved to cook, there was always less occasion to bake, and it didn't draw me like cooking. I know it has everything to do with the exacting nature of the act. Measurements needing to be just so for things to turn out, leaving little room for experimentation. Or at least that is how I saw it.
When I would bake, since I did it so infrequently, I didn't have any of the proper tools to make it easier, so it made me dislike it even more. Some time ago, when it looked like the hubs was employed again (but turned out to be a disaster) we purchased a stand mixer. A beautiful, bright yellow stand mixer. Combine this new "toy" with a diminishing hatred for math and everything exact, and you get a new interest in baking.
The other day, I posted a Facebook status asking people what flavor cupcake, if they could have any, even if it didn't exist. The comments came flooding in. Which inspired me to try making a new cupcake every week. It doesn't have to be "new" (e.g. I can make red velvet if I like) but it has to be from scratch, cupcake to frosting.
Sunday, I set about making my first one using ingredients I already had in the house. Being that its actually cold in Florida right now, I really liked the idea of a spice cupcake. I love ciders and mulled wine this time of year, and I knew I had plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg and even some crystallized ginger in the pantry, so this seemed like a doable idea.
Now, I am not a big frosting person. I have a tendency to scrape it off of cake when offered a slice. I DO love cream cheese frosting, but outside of that, I don't know of many others, so I thought this would be a really good area for experimentation. Plus, pairing a flavored frosting with the spice cake sounded like fun.
Having been sick the past week or so, I knew that we had plenty of citrus in the house, which inspired me to create an orange buttercream frosting. I love using citrus when I am mulling wine, so it seemed like it would be a good pairing.
In the end, the cupcakes were tasty, but the frosting is what really surprised me. The orange buttercream was awesome and so simple. A perfect fall treat (even if it is winter. :) )
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg and/or allspice
chopped crystallized ginger (2 T or more depending on how much you like ginger)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, spices, ginger and salt. In a larger bowl, beat the butter until it’s pale and creamy. Pour in the sugar and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
Stir the vanilla into the milk. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in by hand or with the electric mixer on low speed, just until it’s combined. Add about half the milk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour, mixing just until the batter is blended.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.
Orange Buttercream Frosting
1/4 C butter
2 C confectioners sugar
orange rind (1 T)
3-4 T orange juice
Cream butter and sugar. Add rind and OJ.