Monday, May 16, 2011

Funfetti Cupcakes (and some news!)

I have been a terrible blogger. My apologies for that. I have been baking, I promise, and I have news to share (and hopefully it's a halfway decent excuse for my absence this past week!) First of all, this past weekend was the National Food Blogger Bake Sale. On Saturday, May 14, we sold baked goods at The Poison Cup (1128 W. Armitage Avenue) in Lincoln Park. The proceeds from the bake sale will be donated to Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale!  We had a great time, despite the crummy weather, and I'm confident that we brought in a respectable amount of money for a great organization!

I ended up make black-bottom cupcakes and mini Kentucky Derby pies recipes which I will definitely be sharing soon! But the amount of baked goods (and people) that showed up to support this cause was amazing. Look at the tables upon tables of baked goods!

Kudos to Maris Callahan at In Good Taste for organizing such a great event!

The other part of the equation is that, aside from getting ready from the bake sale, we also said goodbye to two dear friends this weekend who are moving back to the DC area from Chicago. We had a great day with them, and we will miss them immensely, but I am so excited for them. They have two great opportunities ahead of them, and I see nothing but success in the future!

If that isn't enough, things have been really up in the air with me for a while now (like since February), but now that my plans are concrete, I am comfortable sharing! This is somewhat surreal to say, but this is my last week working as an engineer. Starting Monday, I am going back to school full time to earn my Master's Degree in Secondary Education so that I can become a high school math teacher. It's a gigantic change, but one I am 100% ready for and excited about. Last month, I had to take a 5-hour exam, similar to the SAT or ACT on steroids. There was a reading comprehension, language arts, math and essay section. I got a perfect score on the language arts section (woohoo!) but ended up missing one question on the math section. Of course, I'm the math person that always performs better on the English/language arts stuff. If I didn't pass this test (who average pass rate is 25% of the total test-takers) I would have had to take it again ASAP, as I couldn't register for classes at my school without a passing grade. Needless to say, this past month has been super-stressful waiting for results of this test and, essentially, my future.

Once I found out I passed, I paid my admission deposit and will now be registering for my classes this fall (I'm already set on my summer classes).

I am excited, anxious, nervous and ecstatic at the same time. I really hope to keep up with the blog and the posting, but I hope you can forgive if there is a lapse or two in postings as I'm transitioning to this new phase.

Today is my last Monday at work, so it is somewhat bittersweet. I've been here for nearly four years, and it was my first full-time job out of school. My mood has been happy, sad, elated and depressed, sometimes all at the same time. Call it a rut, a “mood” (complete with air-quotes) or a case of the “Mondays.” (props if you know that reference!)

No matter what the day brings, I don’t seem to be able to get past the fact that my alarm went off and I had to get out of bed. Did I mention my alarm goes off at 5:20 in the morning? The sun is not even awake at that hour, which begs the question…”Why am I?”

Days like these, I need to bring out the big guns to pull myself out of the weeknight doldrums. Those ‘big guns’ come in the form of itty-bitty sprinkles inside nothing other than a funfetti cupcake. I did not eat funfetti a lot as a kid, but the few times I did have it, I was in heaven. Light-as-air cake contains a rainbow of color throughout. How can you not be happy eating a rainbow?

I do not buy cake mix all that much, so I did not have a box of Funfetti on hand. But, I did have everything in my pantry, including the rainbow sprinkles, to bring them to life from scratch.

This recipe did not disappoint. The light almond flavoring gives this cake a little something special, which elevates it above your traditional vanilla cake. The cake itself is a little more dense than it’s boxed counterpart, but I’ll trade that any day for a homemade treat sans preservatives and other ingredients I cannot pronounce. The frosting is my first attempt at a cooked frosting, and I was so pleased with how it turned out.

Smoother and lighter than its eggless-uncooked buttercream sister, this frosting was reminiscent of marshmallow fluff, and a perfect counterpart to the nostalgic cake. A few sprinkles on top and, ta-da, the “Mondays” have all but vanished.

Bake yourself up a smile today.

You deserve it.

Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes
Makes one dozen cupcakes

1 1/4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large egg whites (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

Preheat your oven to 350C. In a small bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, whip together your butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg whites, one at a time, until thick and white. Add your extracts and mix again.

With a spoon, slowly mix in your dry ingredients and milk/yogurt mix, alternating between the two. When everything comes together (taking care not to over mix), add the sprinkles and lightly fold in a couple times. Again, do not over mix.

Spoon in the batter to liners and bake for about 20 minutes or until your tester comes out clean. Set out to cool before icing.

Vanilla Swiss Buttercream
From CCakery

3/4 cup sugar
3 large egg white
18 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Extra sprinkles

Over a double boiler, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until the granules have a disintegrated. Pour the whites into a mixing bowl, careful not to get any condensation or water into it.

With an electric mixer, whip the whites until it forms soft peaks. Continue mixing and slowly add the butter, about 4 Tablespoons at a time and mix until completely incorporated. Mix well - after adding your butter, your buttercream will reach the "curdled stage". Don't worry, just keep mixing and it'll smooth out.

After everything has smoothed, add the extracts. When everything is incorporated, use buttercream to pipe over your cooled funfetti cupcakes. Add extra sprinkles on top. Enjoy!

Don't forget to stop by my Facebook site if you like what you see!


Dorsa said...

Yay Caddie Im so happy for you! We are all making big kid decisions recently :):):):).

Ps the cupcakes look amazing.!

Baking Ribbons said...

You are brave! I think teaching can be a fulfilling career-plus summers off?? Cupcakes look great and so do the kentucky derby pies! Hopefully you will find time to bake and post too. Maybe you can use baking somehow in your math classes.

The Honey Nut said...

These turned out so pretty!! I love funfetti and I can only image the home made version is even better :)

oneordinaryday said...

Wow! Way to go ~ that's definitely a lot of change, but you sure sound like you're up for it. Can't think of a more festive cupcake to celebrate your new journey with. :)

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