Creamsicle cupcakes

Tuesday night, I made cupcakes for the Little Kid’s class Easter party. I decided to do white cupcakes, since it’s a group of two-year-olds and white crumbs are easier to clean than dark ones. (Or something.) I went with this recipe, substituting the AP flour with pastry flour. They turned out beautifully, with nice little domes (instead of the flat tops I usually produce).

Now, I have long struggled with how to get domed cupcakes. I read in a book that you have to bake your cupcakes on a baking stone, but that’s not gonna happen. The Kitchn says that you need to crank up the heat, but I don’t trust my oven (or my attention span) enough to do that. I tried the pastry flour because it has a lower gluten content and makes for lighter, fluffier, more tender pastries. I think that might be the key. The domes actually deflated a bit as the cupcakes cooled, but I was so happy to have a mounded pastry for the glaze rather than a flat surface!

I decided to go with an orange frosting because I am not a fan of plain vanilla buttercream. Also, while Creamsicles (or Dreamsicles) weren’t ever my frozen novelty of choice, I do like the flavor combination of orange and vanilla. So, I tooled around Teh Internetz and found this frosting recipe and decided to run with it. I only had 4 ounces of cream cheese, though, and had just thrown out a small tub of cream cheese frosting I’d made for some aborted cinnamon rolls. I used 1/4 cup of orange juice in the frosting batter instead of the zest/extract, and was then really kicking myself for not having that previously made frosting on hand to help thicken it. So, I ended up with a glaze, which worked fine.

The Girl was excited about them!

The tragic end to this story, though, is that the Little Kid got sent home from preschool on the day of the party because she wasn’t feeling well. But her teachers were kind enough to wrap up a cupcake and some other goodies, as well as an Easter basket they’d made for her and the eggs we’d contributed to the hunt and sent them home with her. So sweet.

ATX Food Swappers, April edition

On Sunday, April 10, the whole family headed out to Tecolote Farms for the most recent ATX Swappers event.

City kids heading to the farm!

We got there super early and so the kids got to log some time in the tire swing (they later moved on to the hammock, which they loved. Shall have to figure out how/where to hang one in our backyard). It was a hit!

I packaged up 10 huuuuuge scones, totally excited to go see what else would wind up on the swapping table. In the past, I’ve gotten some really lovely things, including yummy caramels, whole wheat beer bread, and tangy-crisp escabeche.

This time, there were a TON of people there — it was the largest swap yet — and there were some really beautiful offerings. There were coolers and coolers full of fresh veggies from the farm, as well as some from others’ personal gardens (I scored a HUGE bag of freshly picked lettuce!). A few people brought backyard eggs (which the Big Kid was VERY excited about, especially since some of them were green!) and even some homemade sausage! Holy wow! That put my humble scones to shame, to be sure.

It was truly a pleasure to get out into the country and mingle with friends old and new, introduce the kids to horses and chickens, and step back and admire the blossoming community that is growing up around the simple pleasure of sharing food. Not only did the Big Kid get his eggs, the Little Kid got her very own bag of blueberry marshmallows from Curious Confections, I got a lovely jar of lemon curd (and failed to get the name of the lady I traded with), some incredible panna cotta with pear gelee (from JW, whose blog address I don’t have), as well as hugs (and cardamom-ginger vodka) from Jote and Melissa. So even though I felt a little bit of anxiety about the fact that people weren’t exactly tripping over themselves to get to my baked goods, I still feel like I came out ahead.

Baked Sunday Mornings: Carrot Coconut Scones with Citrus Glaze

Okay, this one was a total dark horse. I would never in a million years have chosen these from the cookbook to work with, but Ho-Lee Wow. These are Uh. Maz. Ing. Hats off to the fearless organizer of Baked Sunday Mornings for picking a winner!

(Please forgive the crappy photos. I shot these at night. Ugh. Embarrassing. It looks better if you click and enlarge it, tho.)

I knew when I read this recipe that I had to use carrots from Johnson’s Backyard Garden, because they are so sweet and juicy and just taste so much better than grocery-store carrots. So I made a special trip to the farmers’ market this morning to get a bag of them to make the puree. I had a little trouble with the puree because despite whether I put them in the blender or my mini-food processor, the carrots kept slipping under the blades and not getting pureed. So I think maybe my scones have larger chunks of carrots than they’re meant to have.

No matter. These are so delicious, I probably could have just put hunks of carrots in there and they’d still be amazing. Not that I didn’t fear for the outcome. You see, I have a method for cutting scones: I put the dough into a cake pan, slice them, and transfer them to a baking sheet. However, this dough was too sticky for that maneuver. Except I learned that after I’d put the dough in the cake pan. So, I took a deep breath, brushed on the egg whites, and put the pan into the oven and baked a scone cake. After about 15 minutes, I took the pan out, cut the cake into six pieces, and baked them off a few more minutes.

While these cooled, I mixed together some cream scones with apricot and white chocolate. (I’m taking the scones to a food swap tomorrow.) As I was transferring the “raw” cream scones onto the baking sheet, my husband wandered through the kitchen and said, “Oh my g-d, those look amazing. Like, they look like the most amazing freaking scones in the world, and these [gesturing to the raw scones] just look ‘meh.'” I told him that he could have one of the carrot scones after he took out the trash. I applied the glaze and set them aside (this citrus glaze is really yummy, but I also think that a gingery glaze would go nicely. I have some ginger syrup that my friend Carly made and I might try to utilize it the next time I make these.).

(Side note: that cream scone recipe results in the kind of scones I love. Tender yet glutinous, fluffy but not cakey, and not too sweet. I have some opinions about scones.)

When he got back inside, I put one of the scones on a plate for him (I made six scones and they are GARGANTUAN). He said, “Oh, I just want a bite, I don’t need this whole thing.” I broke off 1/4 or 1/3 of the pastry for myself after he’d had a bite or two and went about my business. He put the plate on the table and went about his business. But then I kept seeing him wander by the table.

I think he liked it.

Austin Bakes for Japan!

ooey gooey delicious salted caramel brownies

Here I am, posting my preview at the last possible minute! Tomorrow (Saturday, April 2), I am participating in a citywide bake sale to raise money for Japan tsunami relief. My brownies — plain and salted caramel — will be for sale at the East Austin location at Nomad Bar from 10-2. Click here to find out the other locations and come buy some diet-busting goodies for a good cause!

Don’t live in Austin? Perhaps your city is represented here? There are dozens taking place across the country!

plain brownies