Friday, April 13, 2007

Here's looking at you, cupcake

I have a thing about cupcakes. Well, more specifically, cakes that can be baked in my 12-dimple, half-cup capacity cupcake tray. Because all that is in a frilly paper cupcake case is not a cupcake. No, really. Oh, fine.

I have a disturbingly varied repetoire of cakes which come out of this pan. Not just several variations on the trusty buttercake foundation upon which your pardigmatic cupcake is built, but also miniature pucks of flourless chocolate, almondy raspberry friands crispy around the edges with an unexpected lemonyness, tiny carrot extravaganzas balancing a walnut, concoctions involving whole jars of cherry jam ... I am Queen of the Babycakes.

But, my god. How terrifyingly kitsch is that? Itty bitty wee cookery in little paper party dresses. Baked frippery. Buttery post-ironic footnotes to the Leave it to Beaver kitchen. Dress-ups with a cake rack and a spatula, like I just found myself inside the TV. I make a delicious almond, fig and chocolate cake which is glamorous and respectable in its full-sizedness, and already I have plans to miniaturise it, with tiny almond butterfly wings perched on its brand-new cutification.

There is no hope for me. I am terminally naff. This morning I made a batch of a brand new breed for the Xtin Kitchen -- with crème fraîche, which my dear friend Acre taught me when she was visiting last week. The tea's hot. Cupcake?

Acre's Sour Cream Cupcakes

2 eggs
2 cups plain flour
1 cup sour cream (see note 1)
1 cup sugar
1 cup soft light brown sugar (see note 2)
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In your mixer (or by hand if you're feeling all urban frontierswoman), cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla and sour cream.

Stir in dry ingredients until just combined.

Spoon batter into lined cupcake pans. Generously sprinkle brown sugar on top of each muffin. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the center muffin comes out clean.

Xtin's notes

1. I used reduced fat crème fraîche because when Acre was visiting, that was all she could find at M&S. Her batch was so delicious that I didn't dare to mess with the potion, in spite of the fact that usually my relationship to anything marked "reduced fat" is limited to a fervent desire to fling it. Preferably in the direction of the Healthy Eating poster that is sure to be somewhere in the vicinity.

2. I used the barest hint of the 1 cup of brown sugar garnish required -- maybe a tablespoon in total. I thought the crusty sugar top was a little overwhelming for the delicate tang of the cake underneath. I'm thinking I might add some orange zest to the next batch.


Beth said...

Honestly. Cupcakes aren't naff. Cupcakes are teh awesome. They offer built-in portion control OR the opportunity to eat just one more "because they're small." A whole cake will start going stale the minute it's cut, but cupcakes won't suffer that fate. Plus, okay, they're cute. But not Hello Kitty cute, of the forced cheerfulness variety. No, cupcakes are honest cute. Ladybug cute. Treefrog cute. Idealized baby farm animal cute.

(You didn't honestly think I could stand by for low cake esteem, did you?)

Xtin said...

Aw, shucks Beth!

Update: when I posted, I'd taken a picture of them, but I hadn't eaten one. But now I have. Seriously. You have got to make these. Make. These. Now.

Meg said...

These are going on my to-try-out list. I don't bake as often as I wish I did, but Acre cupcakes via Xtin with general cupcake endorsement by Beth? Those I must get to.

And yay, happy to see you blogging again!