Posts Tagged ‘ Martha Stewart ’

Billy’s Vanilla Buttercream Cupcakes

I’ve always wanted to find a nice vanilla cake recipe to make from scratch. Previously, when I needed a basic pound cake, I’d head straight to the supermarket to pick up some Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines mix. Then I got to Korea and saw the astronomical price for boxed cakes, and this prompted me to get on top of my search.

When I’m looking for a basic American-style recipe, of course I go to the queen of insider trading American food, Martha Stewart. This recipe’s great—pretty simple to make, pretty basic ingredients. The only tough part is finding cake flour that’s not self-rising. Here in The Netherlands, I had to trek out to the cash ‘n carry to get the right type of flour.

I suggest watching the video on the website, especially if you’re not used to baking cakes. In the video they note that you should add two tablespoons of baking powder to the batter, whereas the written instructions state only one. I have never made them with one tablespoon, but based on readers’ comments, it’s not a good idea.

As always with recipes involving vanilla extract, the purer the vanilla, the better. Vanilla flavouring or artificial vanilla just won’t have the same taste as pure vanilla extract, but you need to be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for the real deal. A bottle of vanilla flavouring will set you back no more than 2 euros here in the Lowlands, but pure extract will set you back at least 15 euros.

I’ve made this recipe a few times, most notably for my sister’s birthday. They turned out great and the kids all loved them. The best part of this cake is that it’s very light and not too sugary, as many cupcakes tend to be.

The most recent time I made it was again for my sister’s graduation. This time around, I made a full, double-layered cake by doubling the recipe. The last time I made a double-layered vanilla cake was in 2004, for my prom. I was the treasurer for student council and on the prom committee and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money for someone’s mom to make a Duncan Hines cake when I felt that we could make it ourselves. So one evening, we sent my family out of my house, and proceeded to bake the cake. Unfortunately, we didn’t grease our pan enough, so our cake ended up a little broken, and looking a little disastrous. It was very uneven, and we didn’t have any extra cake mix, so we were stuck with our disaster.

We came up with what we thought was an ingenious way to hide the cakes deformities. We ended up (over)icing the cake in white  and then colouring the icing in different colours and then spreading it out on the cake Jackson Pollock style. Here it is, the mess that we nicknamed ‘de kaqe’:

It was a MESS. The one-centimeter layer of icing made the cake incredibly sweet, to the point where it hurt your teeth to eat it. I’d never seen such a deep sigh of relief from my friends as when I put down my piece of cake, defeated and refusing to eat it, because it meant that no one else had to eat it either.

So when it came to making the cake a few weeks ago, the pressure was on. Typical me, I didn’t grease/flour the pan well enough for the first cake. Fortunately I learned from my mistake and fixed the problem on the second layer. Cake done, no one hurt.

The icing was pretty easy to make, no problems there, I mixed it, and put it in the fridge to firm up a bit.

The tricky part came when I had to ice the cake. That was pretty tough, considering that it was over 25°C in the kitchen. I got a little worried and thought 2004 was going to happen all over again. I persevered though, and put the cake in the fridge to firm up. Fortunately, that was all it needed. My icing job is nowhere near the standards of Cake Boss, but this time around I was pretty pleased with the icing/cake ratio. In the future, I’ll certainly need to work on my piping, icing and decorating skills, but for now I’m willing to blame my poor presentation in part on the temperature of the kitchen. Here it is, in cake form and in cupcake form, Billy’s Vanilla Buttercream:


What to do with rotting bananas…

Make banana bread!

Everyone at some point will end up with bananas that got too ripe and mushy to eat, which is why this recipe is such a family favourite. When our bananas start to rot, we either throw them in the freezer, or whip up a batch of banana bread.

I’ve got two recipes for banana bread. One of the recipes comes from the United Church of Canada’s cookbook, and has become associated with my family. It’s a great money-maker at bake sales, and it’s one of those easy desserts that can be made in a hurry. I’ve given out this recipe so many times, on four different continents, and people still continue to marvel over it today. This recipe is great because you can also make muffins without altering the batter at all, making it a great item for a grab-and-go breakfast in the morning.

So here it is, in all of its glory, so I can stop sending it to people on Facebook and via e-mail:

Banana Bread

1 cup white sugar

½ cup salad oil

2 eggs,

3 ripe bananas, mashed

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

¼ cup orange juice

Mash bananas, add eggs and beat, then add sugar and oil, beat well.

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and nutmeg and add to banana mixture and blend well.

Mix in orange juice, combining well.

Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.

Bake at 350 oF for about 1 1/2 hours depending on your oven until cake tester comes out clean when inserted in the centre.

Turn out and cool on rack. Wrap and store.



I decided to try a different banana bread recipe recently, from Martha Stewart, of course. Personally, I think this recipe trumps the old one, because the sour cream (I use yogurt) gives the banana bread a really cakey texture. Our house is split when it comes to deciding which banana bread tastes better. In the end it depends on what you want: something cakey, or something more bread-like. Be sure to use large eggs (about 110g of eggs in total), as the eggs ensure the moistness of the bread. I used medium eggs the second time I made it, and the difference was noticeable.

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

I’ve been going through my entries so far and I’ve noticed a trend: there’s an inverse relationship between the quality of my photos and how hungry I am. This next recipe is no exception. I totally should have sliced the cake so that you could see inside, but I was too excited to dig in.

I made this during Easter for dessert one evening. It’s a good pound cake that isn’t too sweet and has just the right level of lemon. I added some poppyseeds, out of habit. The cake was delicious–not heavy as pound cake can sometimes be.

The glaze turned out a little funny. The recipe called for three tablespoons of sugar to be mixed with lemon juice. As I’ve mentioned before, standard Dutch sugar has much larger grains than standard North American sugar, so I opted for icing sugar instead. The glaze wasn’t as thick as I would’ve liked, but it complimented the cake quite well.

Anyway, here it is: Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

Jumbo Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies…

… are as yummy as they sound!

I’ve made these a couple times and my family freaks out every time I make them. Why I went all my life without putting coconut flakes in my oatmeal cookies, I do not know. Anyway, the addition of coconut flakes produces quite a rich result. The coconut adds a nice twist to this cookie jar staple.

The Recipe

M is for muffins….

Today I decided to make some muffins. We have a half empty box of All-Bran sitting in the cupboard that hasn’t seen much action since my dad left. I did a search on for a recipe with bran in it, and I came across Oat Bran-Applesauce Mini Muffins. What attracted me to this particular recipe was that they were super healthy, with no added processed sugar in the original recipe.

Since I didn’t have any dates in the house, I used figs instead. I also had no vanilla… so out went the ‘no added sugar’ advantage, and in went the vanilla sugar. I tasted the batter at the very end before I put it in the oven, and it kind of tasted terrible. I like healthy, but I don’t like it to taste like crap. So I threw in 40ml of brown sugar to sweeten it up a bit. Muuuch better.

Other changes I made… I used half all-purpose flour and half whole-wheat flour, and since I didn’t have any flaxseed, I didn’t put in any flaxseed. I also added in about 1/3 cup of raisins. All my changes ended up bringing the total calorie count to 177kcals per muffin…. The original recipe was for 24 mini-muffins (I made 12 regular ones), and according to commenters, each muffin had only 50 calories in it, so I’ve almost doubled the caloric content. Oh well, at least I can still boast that the muffins are fat-free!

Q: Where do you find information about eggs?

A: In the hen-cyclopedia

So this entry is dedicated to another staple for any home maker. Deviled eggs.

Deviled eggs are great cos there are so many ways you can adapt a basic deviled eggs recipe. You can make them as gourmet as you want, depending on the occasion. They’re also visually appealing. Pair some nice deviled eggs with a nicely patterned plate and they will be guaranteed to catch SOMEONE’s eye at a potluck. Make this with light mayo, and even those watching their waistlines will indulge.

I discovered the joy of deviled eggs rather late, I must say. It was last year actually, at an American Thanksgiving dinner in Korea. That sounds like a rather unlikely set of circumstances for a Canadian to be eating deviled eggs for the first time, but it happened. Fortunately, they were made by a co-worker of mine who was once a chef, and whose attention to detail both in flavour and presentation is as good as anyone’s. In short, I had some damn good deviled eggs.

I made them for the first time at Easter, since my little sis had never tried them. They got gobbled up fast. Since it was her last day of high school this week, I decided to make them for her again, since she’d asked for them a few times since Easter. I got a little careless and dropped them face first on the counter, hence the softly-smashed look some of them have… but shhh she doesn’t know!

I used Martha Stewart’s recipe, and omitted the fresh thyme and chives, since the grocery store I usually go to doesn’t sell the whole plant fresh. Obviously if you can get fresh herbs on the cheap, go with fresh herbs as opposed to dry. I also used less mayo than the recipe asked for… I didn’t measure exactly, but I feel like it was around ¼ cup. I found the yolk filling a bit too mushy last time.