Making Cupcakes and Cake Flour From Scratch

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
     

Directions: 

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. 
cupcakes 7.jpg

Life Lately

I have some cupcakes scheduled for today, but I just had a conversation with one of my favorite people, where I'm pretty sure I set part of my little spirit free. So, now I feel like talking about stuff, dreams and life, and maybe some insecurities will creep in, too. Same friend inspired me to switch my camera over to RAW, which I did for half of these photos, I think you'll be able to tell the difference. I feel like a dope because she told me to do it like 6 months ago. Soo, I'm stubborn. It's not the worst thing, and even if it were, I'd never admit it. 

I usually clean up more to take pictures, but this is what my life usually looks like, sweaters, herbs, and everything is covered in dog hair. I would't have it any other way. I probably shouldn't cover my baby pictures with paint like that. But I wrote this article over at Brit.co about this amazing artist and now I've dedicated myself to learning to paint with watercolors. 

baby adrienne copy.jpg

Baby Adrienne, sometimes I feel, inspired by baby pictures. You know there are all your dreams and aspirations from long ago. That little person who tortures cats still lives somewhere inside me, somewhere. Some days I have to dig to find her, but I own that mischievous spirit for ever and ever. 

Fortune favors the brave, put yourself out there, and then do it some more. I'm totally guilty of quitting after one or two tries or after someone says something mean to me or whatever, but that's stupid. So, I guess sometimes I'm stupid. Sometimes we're all stupid. It's going to be ok, fortune favors the brave. 

Bubbles, and I think these blooms are from succulents. I think I may plant them and see what happens. I'll let you know. 

I made these beaker planters a few months ago and the little succulent got a little suffocated. So, I relocated him to the most coveted spot in the house which is this old camel planter. 

This is why there is always dog hair everywhere. 

See, RAW vs. JPEG really makes a difference. Look at yesterday's pictures vs. this one above. So much more dynamic. Takes up so much more space on the computer. So, worth it. I love learning new things about photography. I've been thinking about signing up for this course to see how much I can learn. I'm really excited, just thinking about it. 

Do you guys like music? These are two of my favorites right now. 


It kinda of feels like two sides of the same story. I hope you're all having a beautiful spring full of new beginnings. 

Re-purpouse a Salad Bowl as a Herb Planter

I saw the cutest thing today. There are these little birds that live out in the back yard and it's spring time (duh) so they're building their nests, and I saw this little brown bird very deliberately collecting white dog hairs. I thought that was pretty considerate I mean they probably make a really soft little bird nest for baby birds. 

Also, since it's spring time, there are herbs all over the grocery stores and I just can't help myself even though sometimes grocery stores don't have the healthiest herbs. I mean I worked in a grocery store in North Carolina and it's just easy to forget to water them and take care of them because you're so busy doing other things and helping customers, and since they're a seasonal item and they're outside, it's easy to forget to take care of them. I would only remember to water them as I was walking to my car at the end of the day. At least it got done. 

Here's to baby birds, seasonal produce, fresh herbs, and recycling things that need new life. I also need to do a deep spring cleaning, but I'll get to that. 

Here's what you'll need: 

  • an old salad bowl
  • drill or hammer and nails to make some holes in the bottom 
  • potting soil 
  • herbs - I have lemon basil, sage, spearmint, and marjoram 

Directions: 

  • Drill holes in the bottom of your salad bowl. You can try skipping this step but you're going to have to keep a close eye on how much water they get. 
  • Add in your plants.
  • Fill in the extra space with potting soil. 

Fruit and Fresh Herb Salad

Normally, I feel like watching the Food Network is a special kind of torture. You watch people make and eat delicious food and of course, you're like a thousand miles away from the place where they're eating it. That's what happened yesterday, I was sitting there wondering why-oh-why must I live in California and not Wyoming. I mean obviously that's where all the amazing food is. 

So, yesterday while torturing myself, I had this exact experience, watching a special on the Lotus Café in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Now I'm searching for this recipe for green curry like it holds the secrets to the universe or something. It very well might. It looked pretty amazing. I'll figure it out. In the meantime I'll have to settle for Californian fruit salad with herbs that grow all year because the weather never changes. I guess it's not so bad here after all. I'm not going to stop wanderlusting after Wyoming and their green curry just yet. I mean, they have wild bison and everything. We just have dolphins and the occasional shark. 

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1/2 medium cantaloupe - chopped
  • 1 lb of strawberries - sliced
  • 3 springs of basil - chopped
  • 3 springs of mint - chopped - I used spearmint 
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic dressing - I used Newman's Own 

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl

Best fresh, keeps for a maximum of 2 days. 

Rosemary Succulent Planter

Rosemary Succulent Planter

I've been racking my brain about what I'm going to post for the beginning of April. I'll be traveling for my yoga retreat. I'm leaning strong towards turning my blog into the coastal California travel blog it was probably always meant to be. I also have a few more ideas like one about care tips for the different herbs I bought and recipes to go with them. I'll probably do some combination of the two. I know there will be enough killer recipes at the retreat to keep me busy for a while. There'll also be some homemade gluten-free flour we're learning how to make, plus there are goodie bags from Whole Foods. I mentioned that I was hoping there would be, and there are. So lucky. The event is also sponsored by Field Notes, so I'll be getting a new notebook while I'm there. Sounds magical, right? Maybe I'll just write all about that. I'm hoping to go throughout a metamorphosis. I can see it already, me getting in touch with my inner child, quietly crying as I wander through the woods with my notebooks and pockets full of trial mix. It wouldn't be the first time. It would not be the first time. At all. There are probably some things I should keep to myself. 

Rosemary Succulent Planter

I needed to replant my rosemary and I bought a bunch of new herbs for spring time to plant in with it, but when I got all of the plants home I realized they were too big to fit through the sides of the planter. Don't worry I've got some ideas for all of those herbs. It still didn't change the fact that my rosemary was super root logged. So bad that the roots were coming out of the bottom of the planter. I've known I needed to move it for about six months. So, I wasn't going to let the other herbs not fitting get in the way of it getting repotted. 

Rosemary Succulent Planter
Rosemary Succulent Planter

.... and I ran out of white paint. Turns out I liked the way it came out with this super thin layer of white paint. It came out this super pale blue instead of the greenish blue it was before. Things work out sometimes. I used this kind of spray paint if you want to try it too. 

Rosemary Succulent Planter

And these were the herbs I was planning on planting. They'll go somewhere soon. 

Rosemary Succulent Planter
Rosemary Succulent Planter

This is the rosemary that needs a new home. Over to the right are the roots. If you have a plant that's root logged you can get the soil wet and separate the roots with your hands. I had to do quite a bit of tearing, which is pretty nerve-racking because it doesn't seem like a good thing to do, tearing plants' roots, but it all works out. I also cut off that super dry bit at the bottom of the plant. 

Rosemary Succulent Planter

This rosemary is about three years old and it's gotten pretty woody towards the base, which isn't necessarily bad for rosemary, but it can be bad for other herbs. If you have to cut or tear a plants' roots to transplant it, you kind of have to babysit it for a while while it draws new roots. I keep mine in partial shade and lightly water daily until it seems more settled. You'll know when it is, the plants spreads out a bit more, starts taking up more space, and just looks overall healthier. This one has only been in for two days. I'll post a picture of it next week to show you what it looks like. 

Rosemary Succulent Planter

I didn't really know what I was going to do with these side planters, but after looking around at what I had, the obvious choice seemed to be succulents. Along with rosemary, they can deal with low water and full sun conditions. Also, since the rosemary likes to draw deep roots and the succulents have shallow roots, it seems like a good pairing. I also like how eclectic it looks. 

Here's what you'll need: 

  • Rosemary 
  • Succulent clippings
  • Soil
  • Paint - optional
  • Strawberry planter - I thifted mine, but it looks a little something like this one

Directions:

  • Paint first, if you're doing so, and wait until the it's completely dry before planting. 
  • Then loosely add the soil to about 3/4 full inside the planter. 
  • Make sure your rosemary's roots are loosened up if need be and place it inside the planter.
  • Water and let the dirt settle a bit.
  • Fill the planter up to the top with soil if there is still space. 
  • Now you can just drop in your succulents. To do this I wedged a little space with my finger and put the stem into the dirt and covered it back up. It's not too tricky.