It has been so long since I've made cake or cupcakes. Baking used to be one of my favorite things. I definitely thought blogging would inspire me to experiment more with it, but alas other things have taken over once again. But today, oh today, I not only made cupcakes from scratch I also used my Joy of Cooking cookbook, always a joy and I learned a new skill, making cake flour. It's super simple. Super simple, time consuming a bit, but simple.
I think someday I'll will this book to my kids. They're probably be reading books from the inside of their arms or the back of their eyeballs by then, but they can still have this book if they want it, covered in coffee stains and falling apart in all it's glory.
To the left, that's what a really old flour sifter looks like and above is my trice sifted flour, only two more times to go. I didn't follow the recipe exactly from the cookbook because it required making a meringue, which is kind of an all day thing, plus I just made this cake flour and failed miserably at making powdered sugar from granulated sugar. So, I took it easy and used 4 whole eggs, instead of 8 egg whites — meringued, if only you could hear my tone right now.
The frosting recipe I got from Hershey's. It didn't need any modification. Super simple. This is also the first time I've gotten to use my apricot kernel extract which I subbed for the optional almond extract in the cake batter. It does ad a nice almond-y amaretto flavor. I was using a hand whisk, if you have a hand blender you can probably avoid some of those bubbles, but they settled down after a few hours anyways.
I learned from Joy the Baker that you can make your own cake flour by placing one cup of all purpose flour - 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. I actually used arrowroot starch, which I learned at the Kitchn makes the cake a bit more moist and cooks faster. It's always a good idea to cross reference to learn as much as you can before you get started. I made sure to keep a close eye on it. Both of my batches baked for exactly 22 minutes.
Here's what you'll need:
For the cake:
- 3 1/2 cups of cake flour or if you're making your own cake flour 3 cups and 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
- 7 tablespoons of arrowroot starch - leave out if you have your own cake flour
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond or apricot kernel extract - optional
- 1/2 lb - 2 sticks - of butter (unsalted)
- 2 cups of sugar
- 4 large eggs
For the frosting:
- 1/2 cup - 1 stick - butter (unsalted)
- 2/3 cup cocoa
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°
- If you're making your own cake flour sift the flour, arrowroot or cornstarch, and baking powder together 5x. Yes, it's totally necessary. It's obviously super powdery and hard to mix well. You'll regret it if ya don't.
- In another bowl mix milk and extracts.
- In a third bowl mix up sugar, eggs and butter.
- While mixing slowly add in the milk and extract mixture.
- Once lightly blended, add in the egg, sugar and butter mixture until the batter is smooth.
- In a lined cupcake tin, bake for 20-25 minutes. Like I said before, with the arrowroot starch mine baked perfectly after 22 minutes.
For the frosting:
- Melt butter in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Stir in cocoa.
- Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beat with a whisk until it looks spreadable and it should turn a bit shiny.
- Add in a tiny bit of milk if it needs to be thinned out.