Thank you for the amazing 8 years here at A Baked Creation, we can't thank you enough for the memories! But we've decided to move over to a new site - Sincerely, Syl. Please join us there for future posts on all the things you loved here!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ghosts of Cupcakes Past

S: We've eaten a lot of cupcakes in the past months.
H: Ahem!
S: Okay, I've eaten a lot of cupcakes in the past months. Many were bought at bakeries that boasted selling cupcakes made from scratched, free of this and that. So this Halloween, let's try something a little bit scary. Something seen as a big no-no in the world of baking.
H: (in a scary voice) Ccccake Mixxxx.
S: That's right. There seems to be an ongoing debate between bakers who use cake mix and those who bake from scratch.
H: We for one don't see a problem with either camp. We've come in peace!
S: For this spooky season, we are going to try using a cake mix enhanced recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor.

A Better Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcake

Recipe from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!
(Makes about 22-24 cupcakes)

1 package of plain yellow cake mix (I used Golden)
1 package of vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup of milk
1 cup of vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 package of frozen chocolate chip cookie dough

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and have all ingredients at room temperature. Also have your cupcake liners and pans ready.
  2. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, beat on low speed until all the ingredients are incorporated. About 30 seconds.
  3. Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula and mix on medium for 1.5-2 minutes. The batter should look well blended.
  4. Set aside 3/4 to 1 cup of the cupcake batter.
  5. Using the rest of the batter, evenly scoop the batter into your cupcake liners/cups - filling them two thirds of the way.
  6. Cut the pieces of frozen cookie dough in half to make 24 pieces.
  7. Place a piece of frozen cookie dough on the top of each cupcake and push it down into the batter.

  8. Using the 3/4 to 1 cup of batter that was set aside, evenly distribute them (about 1 teaspoon for the 22-24 cupcakes)
  9. Place the pans in the oven and bake the cupcakes until they are golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. This should take about 23-27 minutes.
  10. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool before frosting.

Fluffy Chocolate Frosting

Recipe from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!
(Makes about 3 cups)

1 stick of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2/3 cups of unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups of sifted confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  1. Place the butter and the cocoa butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low until well combined. About 30 seconds.
  2. Add the confectioner's sugar, milk, and vanilla extract.
  3. Mix on low speed under the frosting is light and fluffy. About 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of milk if the frosting is too thick or more confectioners' sugar if the frosting is too thin.

The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!
Written by Anne Byrn

ISBN 13: 9780761129615
ISBN 10: 0761129618
Publisher: Workman Publishing
Hardcover: 502 Pages

The cupcakes we tried were light and super moist, but during the cooling session, some of the tops caved in - my fault. I shouldn't have added the extra pudding (since Betty Crocker already has pudding in it, but I couldn't find a plain cake mix - Anne Byrn explains the difference in this book). I also think this might have to do with the cookie dough! The recipe allowed for extra batter, so as you can see, we made some mini cupcakes too. Don't want to waste it! I think to improve on this recipe, next time I will cut the cookie dough even smaller. Even though the frozen cookie dough we bought were already divided into 24 pieces, smaller ones might work better.

It was interesting to alter the cake mix instructions. I've seen chefs do it on Food Network, so I'm glad I had a chance to try it with the Cake Mix Doctor!

The cookbook includes a coloured table of contents that includes a photo of what the cake, cupcakes, brownies, bars, and cookies look like. Yes! That is so helpful and all cookbooks should include a photo of the finished outcome. It doesn't have to be fancy styled photographs, The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! kept it simple and informative.

This cookbook also includes side columns for you to write Recipe Reminders and Notes for each recipe instruction. There are clear instructions for the different types of baking you can do with this book. I like how Anne provides background information and is honest in her recipe introductions. She tells you where she got the recipe from and what she did to improve on it - what works and what doesn't.

I would recommend this for bakers who want to move a step up from using only cake mix. The recipes are almost similar to baking from scratch, except it is usually missing the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

Thank you to Laura from Workman Publishing for the copy of The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! by Anne Byrn.

Ghost Toppers

(Makes as many as you want!)

Jumbo gummies aka gumdrops
White-coloured fondant
Cookie cutter
Rolling pin
Modeling stick
Wilton's round piping tip #3

Have your jumbo gummies laid out to be ghostified!

Materials used: rolling pin, modeling stick, cookie cutter, round piping tip #3.

Roll out a thin layer of fondant. Use your cutter to cut the fondant.
It doesn't have to be such a wiggly cutter, if you prefer a smooth circle - go for it!
I didn't do a clean cut, I've never met a ghost, but I think some would have that wispy look on the edge.

Using the round piping tip as a cutter, make two eyes!
If they get stuck, use the modeling stick to poke out the excess fondant.

Next, carefully drape the fondant over the jumbo gummy.
Have fun folding and creating indents to make the ghost's body and "arms."

And you're done! Simple right?
Have these dry for an hour before putting them on top of your cupcakes.

As always, there are more photos posted on our facebook page!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

NYC Cupcake Tour: Day 3

The last day of my trip spent in New York City was a big cupcake eating day! Please remember, these are based on my own experiences and are in no means an overall critique of the bakeries.

672 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10036

I didn't actually plan for Amy's Bread, this was one of those lucky chances that I got to stop by and discover cupcakes. What caught my attention the most was their cupcake liners! I haven't seen those before, I wonder what they're made of?

The cupcakes were pretty, smooth swirls with sprinkles and confetti. If there was a unique flavour (other than vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet), I think I would have ordered one to try!

In their store window, there is a cookbook, The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread. I think I will have to check that out in a bookstore soon!

705 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10019

I was super excited for Kyotofu! A Japanese dessert bar and bakery that had very unique cupcake flavours. There wasn't a big sign in the front, actually there was no sign on the actual building. But I found it and was greeted with a smile. A clean open bar with desserts piled on. The other side was a kitchen with glass walls so you could take a look. No one was baking when I was there. =(

Flavours tried: I had to try more than one... Chocolate Soufflé Cupcake, Matcha Green Tea Cupcake, and Yuzu-Vanilla Cupcakes. Two thumbs up for these cupcakes. The Chocolate Soufflé was amazing - I understand why that one is an award-winner!
Frosting: No frosting! Which has me internally debating, is it a cupcake? Does it count if it doesn't have frosting? Does it make it a muffin?
Presentation: Had the mini ones that came in the paper liners. The regular sized cupcakes were wrapped in pretty patterned plastic. A very popular style even in the Asian bakeries in Toronto.

Crumbs Bake Shop
43 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036

I have a confession to make. This isn't the first Crumbs location I've been to. Upon arriving in New York on my first night, we had dinner at Maoz. After eating, we walked outside and I spotted Crumbs on 37 East 8th Street. Unfortunately, I was so full from the falafel that I couldn't try a cupcake. It was very sad.

The wonderful assortment at Crumbs.

Domo wants a bite of Crumb's Raspberry Swirl Cupcake.
Ate this treat in Bryant Park (anyone watch Project Runway?)

Flavour tried: Raspberry Swirl Cupcake. A good vanilla cupcake base.
Frosting: Deliciously sweet frosting with a swirl of raspberry on top. Then... nom nom nom and raspberry filling in the cupcake! It was so good!
Presentation: A good slab of frosting on the cupcake. They have other cupcakes with candy coverings and sprinkles, but this one had the simple mark of a raspberry.

Magnolia Bakery
1240 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

The line up for cupcakes!

The famous Magnolia Bakery, what cupcake crawl is complete without it? Well, friends were right. This place is very popular and packed. They even had a cupcake bouncer by the door! He was really nice and cut the line after we got in. =)

Pink Ribbon Cupcake

Four flavours to choose from.

Flavour tried: I couldn't really decide which flavour to pick. There were four flavours by the display glass where we all lined up against. So I went for the Pink Ribbon Cupcake - might as well support a good cause. The cake was good and moist. I would think they're pretty fresh after seeing the team constantly baking and frosting in the background.
Frosting: It was too sweet! I even ate the Pink Ribbon decoration. I thought it was some sort of candy or chewy sweet. After digesting it, I think it was sugar molded into the shape of a ribbon. Too much sugar for me here...
Presentation: A curl of frosting, sprinkles, and the sugar ribbon. Pretty in pink!

Buttercup Bake Shop
973 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Last stop! I don't have a photo of the cupcake I ate here. I was told no photography after this photo below. But, you can see the Peanut Butter and Jelly cupcake that I had in this photo. With that being said, it isn't a good start if you've been scolded for having your camera out. But, service was still pleasant, I only wish they explained why I couldn't take pictures of their cute cupcakes? =(

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcake, second from the left.

Flavour tried: Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcake. The flavour of the day!
Frosting: Sweet peanut butter frosting. As always, after eating peanut butter leaves me quite thirsty. Good thing they had a station for free water!
Presentation: A simple curl of frosting using a spatula. There were a few peanut butter chips sprinkled on top.

That ends my fun trip to New York City! I will definitely be going back next year. And if you want more, there are so many photos posted on our facebook page!
<<< NYC Cupcake Tour: Day 2

NYC Cupcake Tour: Day 2

Day 2 of my trip in New York! Please remember, these are based on my own experiences and are in no means an overall critique of the bakeries. So I wake up, take a subway, turn a corner and what do I see?

Cupcake Cafe
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

Cupcake Cafe and Books of Wonder

A cupcake shop and a children's bookstore together? Um... did I just walk into my-dream-come-true? Yes. Yes I did. Great set-up with comfy chairs and tables in the cafe. This is a gazillion times much better than having a Starbucks attached to a Chapters/Indigo. And can I rave about how pretty these cupcakes are? These are piped buttercream flowers. Sometimes exotic flowers. Sometimes two-toned buttercream. I truly appreciate the time spent on decorating the beautiful cupcakes and cakes.

Can't get bored staring at this display case!

Chocolate Cupcake with Mocha Buttercream

Flavour tried: Chocolate Cupcake with Mocha Buttercream. Delicious and moist chocolate cupcake. I like how they had cupcakes in room temperature if you were going to eat there and chilled cupcakes in the display case for take-out.
Frosting: Wow, very smooth mocha buttercream. This was the smoothest buttercream I tried from the whole trip. It could have had more mocha flavour, but applause to the non-grainy feel of icing sugar!
Presentation: GORGEOUS! There was a freaking orchid piped on this cupcake!!!

Cupcake Stop
Truck stops at various locations.
Follow them on twitter for updates!

Walking around the Flatiron Building and what did I spot??? Cupcake Stop! I literally jumped up with joy and joined the line. Mobile cupcake shops are awesome!

Flavours tried:
Pumpkin and Oreo cupcakes. Pumpkin was good but the Oreo was very dry!
Frosting: The Pumpkin was tasty but the Oreo was simply sweet, not much Oreo taste.
Presentation: Love the cute mini cupcakes and happy that a piping tip was used for the cupcakes! Look at that lovely orange pumpkin tip.

Burgers & Cupcakes
265 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake

Flavour tried:
Mint Chocolate Chip. I know it says "mini" in the photo, but to me, those were the regular sizes I bake in. So imagine how big the regular sizes were... The cake itself was okay, I think it was just white or vanilla cake.
Frosting: Very grainy, I could feel the texture of the icing sugar. I could smell the mint flavour just holding the cupcake in front of me. There was a few chocolate chips on top. Overall, I did not enjoy eating this cupcake, it was too much frosting and it felt like I was eating mint flavoured toothpaste.
Presentation: The cupcakes were frosted with an interesting pointy look. Like mini mountains of frosting. No photo of the actual cupcake I ate, since she placed it in a paper bag upside down. It was smushed when I took it out. =(

Way more photos posted on our facebook page!
<<< NYC Cupcake Tour: Day 1
>>> NYC Cupcake Tour: Day 3

NYC Cupcake Tour: Day 1

Hello... *awkward pause* this is really late isn't it? I was quite exhausted from my trip and then caught an unwanted bug that's been going around. But no fear, here is the recap from my trip! I did managed to visit quite a few bakeries during my short stay in New York City. Please remember, these are based on my own experiences and are in no means an overall critique of the bakeries. This was merely for fun! Now, let's get this trip started:

75 Franklin Street
New York, NY 10013

Okay, my first cupcake bakery! Billy's Bakery did not disappoint my expectations at all for my first taste in New York. Love the store front, the colours, the design, and the atmosphere. The service was fantastic and was greeted with a smile. It is so comforting to see a bakery case full of pretty little cupcakes. The hardest part in each bakery was choosing the 1 flavour to eat. Yes, just 1. There was no way I would have been able to try them all! Their Yellow Daisy Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream Icing caught my eye and there was only one in green buttercream left. Come on, I had to have that one then!

Flavour tried:
Very good! The yellow cake was delicious!
Frosting: Pretty sweet frosting, but the right amount for the cupcake.
Presentation: Cute and plump frosting in a pale pastel. Can't go wrong there and the sprinkles' colours complemented the frosting's green. A very good dessert and snack size.

Got some looks and snickers from two customers sitting inside. They could probably tell that I was a tourist as I snapped photos. But, you know what? I don't have the luxury of swinging by Billy's Bakery whenever I feel like it, so I am going to take a bunch of photos and savour my visit!

Baked by Melissa
529 Broadway
New York, NY 10012
(Pick-Up window on Spring St.)

I wasn't sure if Baked by Melissa would be available for stroller-bys to order cupcakes. The website kept saying pick-up window, so I wasn't sure if I had to order their minimum 100 cupcakes to have a taste. Thankfully, you can just order these mini cupcakes at the window. Customer service wasn't as pleasant as the previous bakery - in fact - it was very confusing. Was told there was only Tie-Dye and Red Velvet left, but as I let other customers order first as I decided, they were ordering other flavours! So it wasn't just the two flavours left. Weird!

Baked by Melissa's Miniature Stuffed Cupcakes Menu

Red Velvet, Cinnamon, and Peanut Butter Cup

Flavours tried: Red Velvet, Cinnamon, and Peanut Butter Cup. First Red Velvet tried from a bakery! Still not sure what it is... is it chocolate cake with red dye? Cinnamon and Peanut Butter Cup were good!
Frosting: You can tell the frosting was quickly piped on, but they tasted good and matched the fillings inside and the cake.
Presentation: Mini cupcakes are already cute. They were served in a big cupcake liner. The cupcakes themselves didn't have the liners - very convenient to pop them in your mouth as a snack!

Babycakes NYC
248 Broome Street
New York, NY 10002

Yes, the famous dairy free, gluten free, egg free, soy free, refined sugar free bakery! With all that 'free' this was the most expensive cupcake I tried. Not complaining, because I understand that the substitute materials are not cheap! Very warm and homey bakery, I love places that don't hide the back where the magical baking happens. It might be just me, but I feel so happy seeing piles of baking pans, bags ready for piping, and trays of baked goods.

Babycake's display case

Vanilla with Chocolate-Fig Ganache and Cinnamon-Nutmeg (Gluten Free)

Flavour tried: Vanilla with Chocolate-Fig Ganache and Cinnamon-Nutmeg (Gluten Free). Love trying out new and unique flavours and this one did not disappoint! The cupcake's texture felt a bit dry, but the ganache filling helped even things out.
Frosting: Umm, it is cinnamon and nutmeg - YUM!
Presentation: Did not have the little piped flower like the regular flavours, but still a good-looking cupcake.

sugar Sweet sunshine
126 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002

Oooo, a line-up! This bakery was busy with people ordering their cupcakes. Luckily, the service was good and the line went quickly. Next, got a table and dug into the cupcake. I'm glad there was a few tables and seating here, after trekking from bakery to bakery, you do get tired and like to sit down to enjoy the cupcake! Plus tables make it easier to snap photos of the cupcake I just got. =)

Flavour tried: Lemon Yummy. It was lemon cake with lemon buttercream. Not enough lemon flavour in the cupcake.
Frosting: Their lemon buttercream was sweet and could have had more lemon flavour to it. But it was still yummy!
Presentation: Quick swirls with a dash of sprinkles.

Lemon Yummy: Lemon cake with lemon buttercream

Way more photos posted on our facebook page!
>>> NYC Cupcake Tour: Day 2