Special Occasion Cupcakes | Simple & Sweet

You guys! I had my first paying baking gig since moving to Pittsburgh! My friend and local business owner approached me about doing cupcakes for her friend’s wedding shower. Now if you would have asked me to decorate a cake or even cupcakes before working full time in a bakery, I would have probably taken a day or two to think it over (and teach myself technique) before agreeing. Well that was not the case this time. I think I agreed before she finished asking the question.

I still get pretty nervous about using fondant and different decorating tips, but the queezy feeling in my stomach is no more. This happens when you show up to work with a terrible hangover only to find out that the resident decorator is a no call no show and you have to get your shit together and decorate 3 three THREE wedding cakes. Yeah that happened a couple of weeks ago. I now feel pretty invincible.  Thankfully, Dora did not want me to go all Cake Boss at this point and time. For the sake of simplicity, she ordered a vanilla cupcake with a vanilla butter cream icing. You know, simple really is the best. Simple can also be beautiful!

I adapted this recipe from my go-to girl (Martha). Sorry for the lack of photos. I was crunched for time, but- simple is key here.

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Simple Lavender & Vanilla Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1 stick butter, softened

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbs finely chopped lavender (fresh or dried)

For the icing:

2 sticks butter, softened

1 Crisco baking stick

1 tbs vanilla

1 cup milk

12-16 cups powdered sugar

  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter, lavender, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add this mixture to the sugar and eggs.
  3. Add the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake papers halfway and bake for 15-20 minutes. This recipe should yield about 2 dozen cupcakes, more or less.

Butter cream icing is just as easy. If you are like me and do not own a mixer of any sort, I find that a rubber spatula and occasionally a wooden spoon will do the trick.

  1. Cream together your butter, shortening, and vanilla.
  2. Alternate between adding cups of powdered sugar and tablespoons of milk. The final product should be stiff enough to hold its own on top of a cake or cupcake.

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I think they turned out beautifully! Dora and her family and friends also loved them, and that’s all that really matters. The door has since been opened for freelance cake and pastry work. I will also really emphasize…I LOVE BAKING PIE! I can always be contacted via my blog if you have any questions.

Memories For Sale

Last weekend Lauren, Chase, and I ventured to a more remote part of the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Our previous estate sale plans were thwarted by an expired Craigslist posting, so we did the next best thing- antiquing. The more I think about that word as a verb, the more I dislike it. See also- crafting. Due to a lack of money, I wasn’t really looking for anything other than inspiration. It is free after all, but you’ve got to keep your eyes open.

Ohio River Blvd Antique Mall was the place. The purple brick building’s facade resembled something like an auto shop you’d find off East McKinney Street in good ol’ Denton, Texas. Its bright colors draw in business and drive out evil spirits, though being an antique store, the place is probably filled with all sorts of juju.

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As soon as you cross the threshold, you go back decades. Mid-century sofas stacked 3 on 3, glass bottles galore, knickknacks and tchotchkes, and dishes from days long gone fill the rooms. Oh! And there are rooms, not to mention floors! The interior is a Victorian house filled with other peoples’ belongings. Other peoples’ junk? Definitely other peoples’ memories.

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On a different note, there’s nothing like an antique store to reiterate the fact that when you die you leave all your shit behind you. While it is a slightly morbid point of view, it does make me evaluate my tendencies as a consumer. Ever since moving to Pittsburgh, I have really been trying to simplify my life. Antique stores can be a great testament to this. So many of the objects filling the shelves hail from a simpler time, and I get a little inspired to live like they did. This correlation might only make sense to me….Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Consumerism and bank account status aside, I did make a beeline towards the depression glass and handful of insulators.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Besides Ohio Blvd, we also frequented a few other thrift and surplus stores. They all sort of cast a similar shadow on my opinion voiced above.

Out with the new and in with the old!

 

 

I Got Stripes

The Fourth of July is my favorite ‘Merica holiday. It can’t be the only ‘Merica holiday, right? This year, my Fourth was the exact opposite of previous years. For the last 3 back in Tejas, the Pearl House would throw the biggest party in town. Everyone who was anyone in Denton would be there. Well maybe not. But cool people showed up. And we made a vodka melon. Every year.

This year, karaoke was not sung, flags were not “stolen”, and hangovers were not to be had. Instead, I held a piping bag in my hand for 14 hours straight. I decorated everything in sight to make our bakery look like America threw up all over the counter and then some. Carpal tunnel much? My hand is still hurting! All complaints aside, I was ready for a nap, beer, roasted ear of corn, and a hot dog In that specific order).  My sister’s boyfriend held a Fourth of Ju-Luau at his house. Everything but the nap was brought to fruition there.  I even had a vodka melon, though it was disgusting. I should give 4th of July tutorials on how to properly inebriate fruit. It’s not rocket science, B!

Anyway, I had a great Fourth. I didn’t think it was a possibility, but when you surround yourself with rad people, good times just happen organically. Here are some photos of me donning Old Faithful. I actually paid for this one. From one of my favorite Dallas vintage stores.

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America’s Bday also rocks because it is the most LDR (Lana Del Rey) of all the holidays. George Washington never saw that one coming!

Papa Don’t Peach (Pie)

Let’s rewind the clock and really even flip the calendar back a month to June. I don’t normally like to go back in time, but pie is involved so I’ll make an exception.

The Monday beginning Fathers Day week I found myself lying in bed not being able to sleep and thinking about food, per usual. I swear, all of my best ideas come to me via delirium. This one also came courtesy of Madonna, an earlier trip to my butcher crush’s establishment, and the onslaught of summer. PEACHES AND BACON – I had the perfect pie any pops would like on their day.

When I shared this bright piedea with friends, theladies were like “that’s a strange combination” and the dudes were like “fuck yeah, bacon”. From their responses I knew I was on the right track. I used the same all butter pie crust recipe I’ve grown accustomed to, with the addition of 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Crust is always my favorite part of the pie so I love making minor adjustments to the recipe in order to bring out the flavor in the filling. As for the peaches, cream, and bacon, I took the local route. I love any excuse to visit my local butcher (I have the biggest crush on that man) and farmers markets are a no brainer.

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Papa Don’t Peach Pie

For the Filling:

8-10 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla + 1/2 tsp maple syrup

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs + 2 tsp corn starch

1 1/2 tbs tapioca 

pinch kosher salt

  1. Peel and slice peaches and place into a large mixing bowl. make sure your peaches are ripe, otherwise this is a pretty arduous task….it really is the pits. (Ha!) Try brown bagging your fruit for a day or 2 beforehand. Toss in and coat the peaches with the fresh lemon juice, vanilla, and maple syrup.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  2. In a separate smaller bowl, combine all of your (other) dry ingredients. Lightly toss the mixture in with the peaches with a rubber spatula.  This is why I love making fruit pies, so simple! Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  3. Lightly fry up a few slices of bacon in a skillet. Then dice those babies up. We will dot the filling with bacon instead of butter!Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  4. When assembling your pie, a double crust is the way to go. I would recommend either a tight lattice crust or small vent slits. Peaches are more on sensitive side. You don’t want to end up scorching your fruit or hurting anyone’s feelings. I have a love for latticing things, so duh, I went with a fat, tight, and diagonal weave. Before adding the filling, I like to dust the bottom half of the pie shell with a mixture of equal parts sugar and flour. This helps to thicken up any juices during the baking process. Yum! Finally after spooning your peaches into the shell, dot with the little cubes of bacon before starting to weave the top crust layer. Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  5. Pop your assembled pie into the freezer for about 30 minutes. This help the crust to maintain its shape during the baking process. No one likes a droopy crust! After freezing, brush the top layer of crust with a mixture of equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. Another trick for the books, this gives you a soft yet flaky and goldenly delicious pie crust. I used local dairy products, too! Happy cows=happy pies, right? Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  6. Bake this baby for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, rotating every 20 minutes. Let cool for an hour before delving in. I served the pie with homemade coldbrew coffee, but I can only imagine the amazingness of a la mode! Next time, next time.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

 

If and when I finally make that pie shoppe dream come true, this will definitely be on the menu come fathers day. It may have to become a summer staple, because who doesn’t like peach pie? (Answer: weirdos/people who are not my friends)

 

***Because bacon is involved, this also makes a great breakfast choice!***Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset