Cupcakes: a trend for tasty treats

Written by: Kate Powell

Cupcakes. These petite, sweet treats have taken the world by storm ever since Sprinkles Cupcakery was founded in 2005.

Now, it seems, there are cupcakes to be everywhere you look. Cupcakeries, blogs, reality shows. I even have a pair of Converse with cupcakes on them! So, why do we love these delectable delights?

Well for one, they are super cute. They can be decorated to entice the imagination and the appetite. Books such as “Hello, Cupcake!” (Tack and Richardson) demonstrate how to turn cupcakes in to miniature masterpieces.

Another reason why we obsess over cupcakes is that they are the perfect size. Before the cupcake, cravings had to be satisfied by purchasing an entire cake with full intentions of eating a single piece. However, we all know by the end of the day, three quarters of the cake would be gone, and the shame would quickly set in. A cupcake allows those with little self-discipline to have a snack without the fear of gluttony. Also, their wrappers make them great for an on-the-go indulgence.

The reality television show Cupcake Wars has opened the doors to endless flavor combinations, including parsley buttercreams, tofu chocolate and bacon cake. Although I am hardly willing to put tofu, bacon or parsley anywhere near my cupcake, I commend their efforts to expand the horizons of the little treats.

With the reinvention of flavors and creative marketing, cupcakes have become one of the most delicious trends of the 2000s.

If you want to create your own sweet treats, here is a fantastic recipe from my family! The original recipe makes about 3-3.5 dozen cupcakes, so I’ve broken it in half for you. Also, this recipe is usually scaled out by weight, so I’ve included the volume.

½ lb. butter, softened, cubed
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 oz. milk (almost one half-cup)
11 1/2 oz. cake flour (that’s about three cups)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
12 oz. sugar (about 1 3/4 cups)

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and milk until everything is blended well.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. When the dry ingredients are fully blended, add in the butter and turn up the speed of the mixer. You want the mixture to have a cornmeal-like texture.

Turn down the speed while you add one cup of the wet mixture. Now turn up the speed and mix, because this is when you are going to be incorporating all the air to the mix. Scrape down the bowl thoroughly. At a low speed, stream in the remaining wet mix slowly.

Incorporate and scrape down the bowl again and look for any butter chunks. Blend on a low speed until the batter changes from a light yellow color to a matte, white color (this only takes a little bit of time so watch carefully). Turn off the mixer, scrape down the bowl and scoop into prepared cups. Bake at 350°F, rotating the pans as needed after 10 minutes.

For the frosting:

Buttercream is a pretty basic, though rarely measured thing for me, and it’s different depending on the weather, too. I soften a pound of butter to slightly colder that room temperature and beat it to death in the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add roughly a two-pound bag of powdered sugar. Beat beat beat. Scrape down the bowl and add whatever flavoring you want. You can add a dash of milk if it seems grainy. Beat beat beat. If it seems too wet, add more sugar; too stiff, more milk. The key is incorporating the air. Whatever is left over keeps (even in the freezer), and you can just re-beat it as needed.

For those of you who are not as skilled in the kitchen, adding a tablespoon or so of almond extract to any box mix really gives the otherwise half-decent batter a very sophisticated taste. Your friends won’t even know the difference.

And for those of you who do not bake at all, here are a few cupcakeries relatively close by. Whether you bake or buy, indulgence is hard to avoid when it comes to these trendy cakes. Have fun with them, and enjoy them while they last!

Pandora’s Cupcakes
3571 Brookwall Dr.
Akron, Ohio 44333
Phone: 330-665-2253

Main Street Cupcakes
238 North Main Street
Hudson, Ohio 44236
Phone: 330-342-0833

Heavenly Cupcakes
154 Cherry Street (University Plaza)
Kent, Ohio 44240
Phone: 330-676-1565

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