So for quite some time now (at least two years, I’d say), I’ve been in search of the perfect cupcake recipe. I’ve tried many – some with much success and others…we’ll they didn’t taste bad but a cupcake that collapsed in on itself is not something I want leaving my kitchen, period. Last summer, I began a formal education in baking/pastry. I went into it with the idea that I would exit as an amazing cake decorator, creating artistic masterpieces that were the confectionery equivalents of a Michelangelo or a Rembrandt.
But that has all changed. After I had my very first class, I had an epiphany – it’s not the art of baking that excites me – it’s the science. What reacts with what to make each dessert they way it is. What happens if you add more of X or remove some of Y, and most importantly – how to problem-solve. I thrive on problem-solving – at work, at home, in relationships – if there’s no problem for me to solve, I’m bored and want no part of it. Enter the chocolate cupcake.
I really wanted a recipe that was, above everything else, moist. I’m not down with a dry cake. That’s the sign of someone who either doesn’t know what they’re doing, or the cake is old. Either way, it’s just bad. After trying many recipes using many different ingredients, I found that recipes using oil yielded the results I was most closely looking for. But I still hadn’t quite achieved cupcake nirvana. Two weeks ago, I found a recipe that appeared to be perfect, upon first glance. I decided to give it a shot.
As I began preparing the ingredients, what jumped out at me was the fact that this recipe called for more sugar than flour. Now, in cakes, that can be possible and the structure can still be maintained, if the remaining ingredients are scaled accordingly. Being the first time I had attempted this recipe, I assumed this had been accounted for, and proceeded as is.
It was a major flop. They went straight to DVD, baby. I took them out of the oven, they looked done. I set them on the counter, and within a minute, they completely and utterly collapsed. it was like there was no structure whatsoever! I had only baked half the batter, just in case of something like this, so I added a little more flour to the second half, and baked them. The result was better, but there was still some sinkage. sigh. Cupcake: fail.
Don’t get me wrong, these puppies tasted great. The ingredients themselves were all fresh, and mixed together, formed a quite yummy batter. It just couldn’t perform (that’s what she said). In a fit of disgust and frustration, I threw the recipe in the trash, and turned the cupcakes into cake balls (I never waste cake that tastes good).
The next morning, I woke up and was laying in bed, and I started thinking about the recipe and what may have gone wrong. The sugar was too much, the flour wasn’t enough, maybe it could have used more eggs…that’s it! I will use this crappy recipe to create the perfect cupcake! I will adjust ingredients, one at a time, until enlightenment is achieved. I ran downstairs, dug the recipe out of the trash, and frantically began jotting down notes and proposed changes in a mad-scientist-like frenzy. Once I restructured the recipe to my liking, I executed it with steady hands and hopeful heart.
It was the longest 15-18 minutes of my life. Finally the timer went off. I grabbed my Ove Glove (Best. invention. Ever.) and ran to the oven, opened the door, pulled out the tray and….
A perfect cupcake needs no icing. However, if you are an icing fiend (like myself), a little dab will do ya.