At my kids‘ schools, moms get to bring cake for their children’s birthdays, for the class and teacher(s), as we’ve been doing at the kindergarten, so I have 11 years of baking for kids under my belt now. I’ve made marble cakes, coconut cakes, cinnamon rolls, apple cakes, plum cakes, cherry cakes and cookies. I’ve made brownies, crumbles and waffles. And muffins, more times than I can count. Apple cinnamon muffins, banana/chocolate muffins, blueberry muffins …
In fact, muffins were the first baked goods I learned to make, back in the day when I was single, working my butt off in advertising and never really home. Then, I considered it an early night if I made it out of the agency before the grocery stores closed at 8. My cupboards held my kitchenware, tea and coffee, and maybe pasta, canned tomatoes and rice. I certainly wouldn’t have had any of the things you need for baking at my house. Things like flour, sugar, baking soda …
How things have changed ;-). But my good old muffin tray does date back to those ad agency days, and it has served me well. Of course, now it doesn’t make any coworkers happy but my two excellent sous-chefs, who will know their way around baking way better than I did when I first moved out at 18. And muffins are a great way to learn :-).
In recent years, these said sous-chefs have, along with every other kid in Berlin, discovered CUPCAKES. You might call them decadent, you might hate their über-richness, you might even consider them sneaky, dangerous, artery-clogging time bombs. But you know what? To heck with that. A decent cupcake can hold its own against the best petit-four, macaroon and tarte in the world. A great cupcake is a work of art, it melts on your tongue, and it can bring you true happiness, at the cost of risking a little weight gain, I’ll admit.
I’ve tried inferior cupcakes I shudder to think of, I’ve eaten mediocre ones that I was too polite not to finish, and I’ve savored true masterpieces. The latter made me want to learn how to make them myself. Unfortunately, they also made my son want some for his own birthday.
So I wasn’t worried about the cake part. I can do cake in my sleep now, and even if I’m probably a bit too lazy with the measuring, my stuff usually turns out well. The frosting though, not so much. Frustratingly. I mean, how hard can it be? Cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, flavor of your choice … piece of cake…? Or not…
I have a ginormous batch of lemon and vanilla frosting sitting in my fridge as I write this, for the simple reason that it wouldn’t set, no matter how much powdered sugar I added. The bowl kept filling up, the lemon flavor got less and less intense, and the stuff became sweeter and sweeter … At the end of the night, I was close to tears. I was out of powdered sugar also, and had used almost a whole pound of butter. I really really hoped the frosting was going to firm up over night, and I set my alarm to half six to be able to put the finishing touch – aka pretty frosting peaks – on the little cakes for my son to take to school with him.
To make a long, sad story short: this is what he took with him yesterday morning:
I called them Liquid Lemon Cupcakes to make myself feel better, he didn’t give me a hard time for them , thank God, and as far as I heard, the kids actually enjoyed them. 2 classmates have even asked for the recipe, can you believe it?
Now I’d really appreciate any advice you can give on how to make a true frosting with structure and stability out of that – pudding, for lack of a better word – I have on my hands. There’s too much good stuff in there to toss it, and I’m sure you’ve got a trick or two up your sleeve. Save the frosting! I say. And do get back to me, pretty please with lemon icing on top ;-)))!
J in Washington, if you’re reading this, please help!