Thursday, April 5, 2012

birthday cupcakes!

last month it was erin's birthday and for those of you who don't know, she has been one of my dearest friends from when i started working at disney six years ago.  maybe it's because she's seven years younger, but i've always thought of her as the little sister i never had (even though this little sister is light years ahead of me in her career).  so, when she decided to celebrate it with a party in the park i asked erin (also endearingly known as tita) what i could bring.  her answer?  funfetti cupcakes. that's it? straight-from-a-box betty crocker's fancy fun cupcakes?  i knew i could do better than that.

i immediately picked up the phone and called my mom, who is my pastry guru.  in less than five minutes i had a recipe for chez panisse's 1-2-3-4 cake and a chocolate ganache icing to die for.   i was ready to take funfetti into a new realm.

after a stop at whole foods and jeff making a run to williams sonoma, all i wanted was a little help from a friend. enter marcia.  not only did we have an extremely entertaining evening, but i think she discovered a new talent - cake decorating.  there is no way the cupcakes would have looked so good, without mar's expert application of the icing.

{ganache so good that it makes you want to dip your face in it}

{i think we were in the cake prep here}
{the expert at work}

{check out the shine on those little babies}

{we felt pretty proud of the finished product}

my mom might kill me, but below are the recipes:

1-2-3-4 cake
this cake is called 1-2-3-4 because it is a very old recipe and people could remember the ingredients by the numbers without having to write it down. This is what we make for birthday cakes. It is very good plain, or with lemon curd and fresh violets.

1 cup of unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
2 cups of sugar
3 cups of cake flour
4 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
4 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 cup of milk

Sift the cake flour, scoop into a measuring cup, scrape a knife across the top of the cup to level it, and measure 3 cups. Put the flour in a separate bowl. Measure level teaspoons of the baking powder and add to the flour. Measure the salt and add to the flour. Mix together.

Separate the eggs. Put the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Have the vanilla ready, and measure the milk and set aside.

Butter the insides of two 8- or 9-inch cake pans. Rub a small amount of butter all over the inside; don't miss the corners. Then put a tablespoon or so of flour in the pan and turn it all around so the pan is completely dusted with flour. Turn the pan upside down, and tap the edge on the table to let the extra flour fall out.

Now everything is ready to make the batter. Beat the butter with a wooden spoon or in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat again until very fluffy and light yellow. This is what it means to cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and beat them in briefly. Add 1teaspoon vanilla and mix it in well.

Next add the flour and milk in parts. Sift about half of the flour over the butter mixture and lightly stir it in. Exchange the spoon for a large rubber spatula, and pour in about half the milk. Use the spatula to gently mix the milk into the batter. Sift over the rest of the flour and stir it in. Pour in the rest of the milk and gently mix it in.

The last step is to beat the egg whites and fold them into the batter. Put the egg whites into a very clean metal bowl, and beat with a whisk or mixer. They will gradually thicken and get very white as you beat in air bubbles. When the whites are very fluffy and will hold a soft peak shape when you lift up the whisk, they're ready.

Scoop up some of the whites with the spatula, add to the batter, and very gently stir them in. This will lighten the batter and make it easier to fold in the rest of the whites. Then pour the rest of the whites onto the batter and begin to fold them in. Folding is more delicate than stirring. Use the spatula to lift up some of the batter from the bottom of the bowl and fold it over the whites. Turn the bowl a little and fold again. Do that just until the egg whites are mixed in. The air bubbles in the whites will give the cake a light and delicate texture.

Divide the batter between the cake pans, and put in the center of the oven to bake for about 25 minutes. When the cakes are lightly browned, and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, they're done. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

You can cut the recipe in half to make a single layer cake. Or a full recipe will make 32 cupcakes--fill the papers half full.

*** for the funfetti version,  just fold the funfetti sprinkles into the batter before you bake them
medium ganache

Yield: 3 #
ingredients                                                                                                     Amount
Dark chocolate, finely chopped                                                                    2 #
Heavy Cream                                                                                                  32 oz
1) Place the chocolate in a stainless-steel bowl
2) Bring the cream to a simmerream
3) Pour the hot cream over the chocolate.  Allow to stand for 1 minute, then gently stir to blend.  Strain and
4) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before using
5) Whip the ganache to desired peaks for use.

1 comment:

  1. Why would I be upset over you sharing these recipes. Just glad all was delicious!!