When I lived in Manchester in the UK, I had a gloriously large kitchen – it was new, sparkly and it inspired me to cook. But four years on, and I’m living in a (very pretty) shoebox in Manhattan with virtually no kitchen. So as you’ve seen before, when I have an urge to cook, I quite often rely on other people’s kitchens.
Tonight I headed to Butter Lane in the East Village to use theirs – and left with a batch of icing-slathered cupcakes.
If I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of cupcakes. Yes, they are delicious, but it’s not something I’d ever think to buy because it just seems so decadent and the icing can be overwhelming. But making them seems like fun, so when I saw a Groupon deal for Butter Lane I snapped up two tickets.
In total, there were about 15 of us in the class and we were divided into three groups making a different flavored batter each: vanilla, chocolate or banana. We ended up at the banana table, which I was happy about because it’s definitely the flavor I’ll most likely make again.
We checked out our ingredients (For 36 cupcakes: 1/2 lb butter, 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 3 eggs, 1 splash of vanilla, 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, 3 cups cake flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 2 cups pureed bananas) and got to work – first mixing the butter and sugar before adding the eggs with the vanilla.
I picked up a couple of tips, such as using cake flour to make a lighter sponge and buttermilk for more moisture.
Butter Lane had done the measuring for us, but I must say that I much prefer the American system of baking – that is, using cups instead of weighing scales. It’s so quick and easy that it almost seems like cheating. So I really can’t see this recipe taking too long if I tackle it again.
Afterwards, we got to work on the cream cheese frosting (1/2 lb of butter, 16 oz cream cheese, 8 cups confectioners sugar, 1 splash of vanilla extract). We combined the butter and cream cheese then added the sugar before throwing in a dash of vanilla.
Then it got messy. Each group divided their icing into two batches so we could create six flavors in total: Cream cheese, cinnamon cream cheese, chocolate, peanut butter chocolate, vanilla and raspberry.
We learned how to dollop the icing on top and, using a palette knife, smoosh it down into a smooth ball. Then we held the knife flat on top of the icing as we turned the cake, creating a swirl pattern on top.
…while others went much better…
Once back home, I brewed the kettle and nibbled a banana cake with cream cheese icing – and ooh it was delicious. So soft and moist. There was too much icing for me, but I’m sure when I try one of the chocolate peanut butter ones, I won’t be complaining quite as much.
A fun, sociable and clear class – with great results. And after realizing how simple it was, maybe I could even manage it in my mini kitchen.