Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday Fun—Cupcakes!

Last December I blogged about the Martha Stewart Show and the “great cake” she was baking. Since then I’ve tuned into the show from time to time, including this week, which was "Cupcake Week."

I'm sometimes out of step with current trends, so I was surprised to find out that cupcakes are currently all the rage. Who knew? Certainly not me!

I only caught the Wednesday episode of Martha’s show this week, and she and her guest Karen Tack were making Corn-on-the-cob Cupcakes.

How adorable are these? They’re decorated with jelly beans and served on corn cob plates, complete with holders. Perfect for a family barbecue or a child’s birthday picnic.

The recipe and decorating instructions are on the Martha Stewart website and in Karen Tack’s cookbook, Hello, Cupcake!: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make.

While I was searching Amazon for cupcake cookbooks—yes, there are plenty of them!—I came across this one—A Baker’s Field Guide to Cupcakes: Deliciously Decorated Crowd Pleasers for Parties and Holidays by Dede Wilson.

This cookbook “. . . brings the user-friendly approach of the [field guide] series to the ever-popular cupcake, with fifteen master batter and frosting recipes on which the sixty cupcakes in the field guide are built. This book features creative, fun ways to decorate cupcakes for a wide range of special occasions and holidays for children and adults, with a beautiful photograph of every cupcake.”

The science nerd in me loves the field guide concept, and the non-baker side of me likes the user-friendly aspect of this cookbook. It’s spiral bound and each recipe has a two-page spread, which means the book will lie flat and all the information for a specific recipe will be at the baker’s fingertips. I especially appreciate being able to create many different kinds of cupcakes from only fifteen recipes. Even I could do this!

But why cupcakes?

According to Wikipedia, New York City’s Magnolia Bakery is credited with starting the cupcake craze.

Several years ago my daughter and I spent two weeks in New York. She was a huge fan of Sex and the City, the TV show that helped popularize the Magnolia Bakery, so we popped in when we visited Greenwich Village. Even after lining up for ten minutes to pay several dollars apiece for cupcakes, I never imagined this was a trend in the making.

Now there are cupcake shops in nearly every major city in North America. You can buy containers for transporting cupcakes and stands for serving them.

You can visit blogs like Cupcakes Take the Cake, devoted to baking and decorating cupcakes. If you're as crafty as this blogger, you can even knit yourself a cupcake. So cute!

Watching Martha Stewart’s show this week reminded me of the cupcakes my grandmother used to make from a yellow cake batter with chocolate icing. They were simple, delicious, and the perfect size for a snack or a lunchtime dessert.

Deliciously simple—maybe that’s the secret to today’s cupcake craze. What do you think?

Talk to you later,


Anonymous said...

A field guide to cupcakes! I love it!

I've got to say, though, I can't see myself ever making a successful dog or cat c-cake, no matter how easy the cookbook says it will be.

I did make a train birthday cake for my stepson the year he was five, and a more difficult truck a couple of years later. All in three-D, mind you – none of that outlining the picture in icing!

It was surprisingly fun. Now that he's all grown up, I need another excuse to carve a vehicle out of pound cake!


Lee McKenzie said...

A train cake sounds perfect for a five-year-old!

The most creative I ever got was making a chocolate turtle birthday cake for my daughter. I baked it in a round metal bowl, iced it with green icing, and used black shoestring licorice to outline the pattern on the turtle's back. Come to think of it, the head and feet were made from cupcakes.

Another year I made ice cream cone cupcakes for my son's birthday. As I recall those were relatively fuss-free but, knowing me, I probably used a cake mix and ready-made frosting!

Gillian Layne said...

My mouth is watering!

My MIL made wedding cakes. Absolutely gorgeous, had-to-buy-a-van-to-transport-the-things cakes. My small town wedding (all families involved are farmers) had the biggest five-layer cake, complete with fountain and fresh flowers. Yummy!

I love dense cake, and have not alot of luck making it. Those cupcakes made into long snakes are a big hit around here.

Lee McKenzie said...

Your flowery fountain wedding cake sounds gorgeous, Gillian! And extra special because your MIL made it.

MaryF said...

You know, I was unaware of this trend till your blog, and the very next week I went to a baby shower where the cake was cupcakes!

Lee McKenzie said...

Cupcakes are ideal for a baby shower!

My daughter recently made a batch of chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting for a friend's b-day party. I volunteered to do quality control ;)

And yes, they were every bit as good as they sound!