No recipe to share today as this is a review of some of the Heavenly Cake Baker projects that I'm posting for this week's Free Choice selection. I decided to make the Designer Baby Grands for a 3rd time. I guess the saying is true, because the third time really was the charm for me to finally get these cupcakes to turn out like the ones pictured in Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The chocolate cupcakes are filled with ganache and glazed with a smooth glass-like Chocolate Lacquer Glaze. Reminds me of an ice skating rink.
From the book
The first time I made the recipe, I misread the directions and divvied the batter up into 12 cupcakes, rather than 14 - who ever heard of a recipe making 14? Anyway, my mistake obviously meant each cupcake had too much batter, so they baked up well above the top of the cupcake liners. They had very round tops too, which isn't usually a bad thing, but in this case it meant they wouldn't have flat tops like the ones pictured in the book above.
For try number two, I carefully weighed the batter and divided it equally among 14 cupcake wrappers - each with exactly 33 grams of batter. I also removed the cupcakes from the oven a little early so the tops would flatten as they cooled. As you can see, they flattened nicely, but they were still too tall to achieve the finished presentation of those pictured in the book.
Apparently I wasn't the only Heavenly Cake Baker who had this problem.... there was a lot of talk about it on Rose's blog - she explained that the food stylist for the book must have taken a bit of "creative license" with her version. Rose suggested scooping out some of the baked cupcakes from the wrappers before glazing, but I thought it would be better to just bake smaller cupcakes and avoid the hassle of making a huge crumby mess (and I can't intentionally harm a perfectly good cupcake).
So for my third go I decided to weigh out precisely 20 grams of batter per cupcake liner, which ended up being perfect amount... doing this yielded 23 cupcakes instead of 14, and there was plenty of room in the liner to add the ganache and lacquer glaze (plus, they're a better size for portion control - bonus!).
Rose's instructions call for a couple steps that I find cumbersome so I omitted them all together. First is the suggestion to carefully separate the foil and paper liners from one another, being careful not to damage the foil so the finished cupcakes can ever so carefully be placed back into them for presentation. WHY??? I just baked the cupcakes directly in the foil - easy, and have a nice supply of paper liners to use another day.
Next Rose calls for spraying the cupcake liners with an oil/flour baking spray - I'm sorry, but this seems to be an incredibly messy and completely unnecessary step to me. And in all the years I've been baking, I've never ever heard of anyone else make such a suggestion. Besides, I don't mind if a few crumbs stay behind when you peel back the cupcake liner.
Here are some cakes that I've made from Marie's Free Choice List:
I liked the spice cake, but not the peanut butter cream cheese frosting. Hubby is a huge peanut butter fan, and said he liked the frosting, but he hasn't asked me to make it again so that means he wasn't very impressed. We both found the flavor combo of spice cake and peanut butter cream cheese frosting to be very strange.
Torta de las Tres Leches - A specialty cake from the Southwest that is made with "3 milks" and is served cold and very wet. After reading about this cake for years, I was very eager to try it. I love the way this cake turned out visually, but sadly, I was extremely disappointed with the flavor. Compared to other tres leches recipes, this one lacks a great deal of vanilla which would have made all the difference to me. Also, I've since found out most recipes call for serving this cake in a deep sided cake pan, while Rose suggests serving it on a cake plate. I quickly found out why most recipes serve it in a pan - the milk mixture seeps out of this cake continually. I found myself sopping up giant puddles of milk every time I opened the fridge... this went on for days! I published a very detailed post on this cake - tons of photos.
Yellow Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate-Egg White Buttercream. Okay, I didn't do the yellow butter cupcakes here, just the buttercream. The buttercream was yummy, but it's name puzzles me. I'm sure it is grammatically correct, but it looks to me like the frosting is a combination of "chocolate eggs" and "white buttercream". I probably would have omitted the hyphen, but who am I? I wonder if the cookbook publisher scratched his or her head over this one.
Don't let my not less than stellar reviews above keep you from sampling other recipes in the book. Here are some of the ones I loved:
Let's see, what can I tell you about myself. I'm of British and Italian decent, the mother of 4, and I've been married to my wonderful husband for more than 25 years. I had always dreamed of going to culinary school, but reality hit when I married and started a family, so I took matters into my own hands and taught myself to cook and bake from scratch. I started with zero kitchen skills and now I teach cooking classes! Whether I'm making dinner for the family, lunch for friends, or wedding cakes for a huge crowd, I'm up for the task. If I can teach myself to cook and bake fabulous food, I can teach you too. Let's head into the kitchen and cook!