Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Baking Lessons

Matcha Green Tea Cupcake

Cooking is fun, and often forgiving once you’ve got some basic skills down. I don’t consider myself a great cook, but a cook that’s good at making certain things. Most of all though, I just love playing around in the kitchen. Once motivated by a craving, it's so much fun to fiddle, plunk and experiment until something satisfying results. Sometimes I’ll use a recipe, but I never quite like to abide by them entirely – there is always something I’ll add or change or measure differently. It’s not a purposeful act of rebellion, but more a desire to try things my own way, just to see what happens…and in hopes of getting that subjectively perfect flavour and texture.

Baking appears to be a whole different beast.

Recently, I bought myself a Kitchen Aid mixer. It was at a sale price that was impossible to refuse, and it felt time to expand beyond hand-mixed muffins and stovetop savories. (And thank you friends who helped me lug this monster home on foot.) After three weeks of sitting on my counter unused, I finally had the time and inspiration to put it to use. I had some matcha green tea that was sitting around, and so decided to make green tea cupcakes.

After my cupcake experience, I realize it is true what I have heard – baking is a strict art. Or it should be at least, while I’m at my newbie stage with so much knowledge to acquire. What I’ve learned from this bake is: never add water to frosting when it's too thick, be sure to sift the flour for fluffiness, do not over-mix, even if you have a heavy duty mixer to do all the work, and do not overfill the baking cups. How I learned these lessons? Overly puffy, dense cupcakes with runny frosting. But I am thankful for loved ones both creative and appreciative of dense cakes. It wasn’t all a failure. And the sprinkling of white chocolate shavings on top worked perfectly to cover all visual foibles. They were decent for a first try and definitely still quite edible, but for next time, I will follow all rules!

Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes
from Cupcake Bake Shop by Chockylit

• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 large egg yolks
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup milk
• 2 tablespoons matcha green tea

Beat butter on high until soft for about 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy for about 3 minutes. Add eggs/egg yolks one at a time and beat for 30 seconds between each. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add to batter and mix to combine. Mix matcha in with the milk and mix it into the batter. Scoop batter into the cupcake papers. Bake for 22-25 minutes at 350 degrees F until a cake tester comes out clean. Makes 24 muffins.

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