Monday, November 8, 2010

Coping with Cupcakes

Some people eat to feel better, I cook. It usually works even when things barely come together in batter in the same way they barely come together in life.

Saturday Amanda and I hosted a potluck. I get so excited to cook food for people that I'm usually planning out my entree weeks ahead of time. This time for whatever reason I wasn't inspired by anything except the week-old frosting taking up half the top shelf in the fridge. So I started on almond cupcakes but a few hours before the party. And let me tell you, things were touch and go for a while there. Instead of using room-temperature butter, I used three blocks of rock-hard butter straight from the fridge. The butter and sugar don't "cream" well that way. The nine-horsepower KitchenAid mixer worked that butter so hard that the bowl got lodged pretty firmly in the mixer. Amanda's boyfriend had to remove it. And the batter was so thick that incorporating the frothy egg whites into it without breaking them was nigh impossible, yet somehow, the batter came together creamy and rich. While the cupcakes baked, I worked some magic on the frosting, which had seemed like enough to cover 24 cupcakes when I glanced in the bowl when grabbing the orange juice every morning. Either way, I conquered the cupcakes, all frosted and topped with almonds by 6:55 p.m. I even had time to vacuum the spider webs out of the back porch.

Somehow, just like I always do, I pulled it together enough to sit down for a moment and enough a moist almond-flavored cupcake before the fun started. And I think: I can't possibly be the only one out there who barely pulls it together enough to appear presentable. No, I'm not. I use cake to cope. I use cake and friends and Friends (the TV show) and family and faith. Sometimes, though usually not all at the same time, they fail me. And sometimes they come together at 6:55.

(this photo accurately represents how great the party was and how messy, another great analogy for life.)
Almond Cupcakes: adapted from Martha Stewart (serves 24)
3 cups flour
2 teapsoons baking powder
1 teapsoon salt
3 sticks butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond
1 cup milk
8 large egg whites,

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and 2 cups of sugar until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts. Add the flour in three batches, alternating with adding part of the milk each time and mixing til just combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add a scant 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until glossy. Fold into the batter, being careful not to deflate egg whites. Fill cupcake liners three-quarters of the way full with batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Frost and serve.

1 comment:

Jess said...

what did you do with all those leftover egg yolks?
I love that photo of the party, because you can see reflections of people in the window. so great.
and those cupcakes look delicious.
I also cope with cake. And I also pull it together just-barely before everyone arrives. that's when I pour a glass and enjoy the company!