Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free Vanilla Cupcakes

So I had a couple of hours to kill this afternoon and decided I wanted to make cupcakes or cookies or something of the sort. However, I really didn't want to spend any money or have to go to the store. I went to my cupboard and took a mental note of the ingredients I had. Many of you probably know that I am allergic to wheat, eggs, and milk. So, I went on a flipping spree through my baking books. I have some gluten free baking books but they all require all these really weird, expensive ingredients that I just don't have on hand. So, I went to one of my cupcake books to find a simple recipe. I found a decent, easy, fast recipe for vanilla cupcakes.

I substituted the flour with AP gluten free flour blend, the milk with almond milk, and the eggs with egg replacer (a powder you mix with water that acts in a similar way eggs will when baked). Everything else was the same (baking powder, sugar, etc). They turned out okay. The problem with gluten free AP flour is that it has this weird aftertaste to it. I prefer to bake with almond flour but of course, I didn't have any. :-) Gluten free also always tastes less sweet. I guess that can be good but it makes cupcakes and cakes taste more bread like than cake. But it was an experiment and for the first time, not so bad. Next time I think I will swap out a bit of the flour to add a bit of brown sugar.

The batter also didn't make very much. The recipe said it would make 16 cupcakes but they must have meant MINI cupcakes because I got a whole 6 cupcakes! haha! But since I am the only one around that will eat the GF, it is better there are less.

The icing (I say icing because it is more like poured fondant instead of a frosting/buttercream) was a wing it as well. Well, more of a wing it than the cupcakes. I really didn't start with much of a recipe. I took a bunch of powdered sugar and mixed with a little water at a time until I got a thinner icing. I then added vanilla extract. I decided to also add marshmallow to give it a bit of a different flavor. Ummm.....lets not discuss the fire I almost started with the first marshmallows I put in the microwave. heehee Let's just say I had to throw out the plastic container I was trying to melt them in. :-/  So, I finally got the marshmallows melted and mixed it in with the icing I had made. The thing about marshmallow is it hardens up really fast when it is by iteself. So, when you melt it to add to something, you have to add it quickly or it becomes a sticky mess. I was able to get it mixed in pretty good with the icing so I could dip the cupcakes.

Well, while I was waiting for the cupcakes to cool, the icing set up a bit too much. The first cupcake I dipped turned out okay but the second one broke. The whole top came off in the icing! In the end I ended up just spreading it on with a spatula knife. So, they aren't as pretty as I hoped. I sprinkled with some pink sanding sugar to make them look a bit better. But, they are a great sweet treat in the afternoon!

So, next time I will try a couple different things. I hope to have my own recipe in the end!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I'd rather be burned with a curling iron

Okay, so the semester is underway and I have been so excited for what has started I had no idea it was underway so quickly! I am trying to sit back and soak in as much as possible.

After getting the confirmation that I had not only got into the on campus internship but also the last class in baking (the class I took the whole program for) I threw myself into getting all my supplies without even realizing I am almost done. HOLY CRAP! I am almost done with school! This semester I am taking a sculpture class, Directed Practice (the on campus internship) and Baking 3/Pastry.

So the first thing I have learned in the last couple of weeks is that for the next few months I will be tired, period. I have school, work, and my internship. I am at school 4 days a week with two of them being Saturday and Sunday. I also work at least 2 days, if not 3 during the week. So, I wake up no later than 6:15 pretty much everyday but some days as early as 4:15. Such is the life of a baker, right? Okay, on to the fun stuff!

So, an overview of sculpture: we are carving clay! Right now we are working on a clay carving project that will, in the end, teach us how to make molds. Molds as in silicone molds I believe. We are still carving. I am almost done! So, here is a picture of it almost done:

The first day of Pastry class, we actually worked with sugar. Boiled sugar. Hot ass sugar. Sugar burns hurt. I would rather be burned with a curling iron. However, I have heard that once you burn yourself with sugar, you will never do it again. So looks like I am good to go now. :-) Hey, at least I didn't blister. Thank goodness. Before class we had to create a fish mold with clay. I forgot to take a picture of it, but it was a basic outline of a fish. You bake it so it is hard and then you spray it with vegetable spray before pouring the boiling sugar into it. When it hardens, you break away the mold and you are left with what was inside it. Here is a picture of my fish right after taking it out of the mold:

Next we put it all together with some other forms of sugar (bubble sugar, rock sugar, pulled sugar) to create an underwater scene. Here is mine:

Isn't he cute. I haven't named him yet. What should I name him? (Well, he is now swimming with the other fishies so to speak...RIP fishy).

The next day I had Directed Practice which is where we do an on campus internship at the school bakery. Since our school is a full Jr. College, we have many places we bake for. We have a fully functional Starbucks on campus that we bake for, our student center cafeteria, a child care center, and two snack bars. We are pretty busy. My first day turned out pretty good. I made chocolate chip muffin mix with a new recipe, a new recipe of chocolate brownies, I prepped muffins (prepped pans and scooped for next morning), made sugar dough and rolled out to put in tart tins. Tomorrow we should have more going on but I am excited about practicing all I have learned in the last year.

Today in Pastry we worked with pulled and blown sugar. First was the pulled sugar. It was difficult at first but I got the hang of it. We were to make a bunch of leaves and then flower petals and put together a flower. Everyone had different colors and were making different types of flowers. I kept mine simple as I really want to learn the techniques before I start getting all fancy. :-) Here is my end flower:

Next we went on to blowing sugar. Yes, it is similar to blowing glass. And it is hard!! In the end I had a bit of problems and only ended up with one good piece, a green apple. For the first time, I was pretty darn stoked on it! Here it is:

So, more DP and more sculpture this week and then we move on to buttercream and fondant in Pastry next week...something I am a bit more comfortable with thank goodness. haha I am so loving this!

No morning to sleep in for at least the next 4 days and no day off for at least 8 days, maybe more. Thank goodness I love what I am doing! :-)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Good News!!!

So I got into all of my classes! I will be interning on campus at school and also taking the pastry course. I am also enrolled in sculpture. (As well as still working at the cupcake shop). So, it will be a busy semester with lots of projects and lots of work, but I am so looking forward to it! More info to come as the semester gets under way!!