For Christmas I received a couple of very nice books, and I’ll review each of them here. First up is “Cupcakes!” by Elinor Klivans, and published by Chronicle Books. Every one of their books carries such attention to detail – some of the type in this book is set in the shape of a cupcake, and the inner cover of the book is pretty blue polka dots.
The recipes in the book sound wonderful, and though there aren’t pictures of every recipe, I think there are enough to get the general idea of what you can create. I was reading it in bed the other night and hoped it would make me dream of cupcakes – no luck there though! The recipe for Boston Creme Pie cupcakes was a pleasant suprise – I made my own version of these over the summer when I had a little too much time on my hands one day, but I’m sure I could improve them with the help of an actual recipe.
This afternoon I spent a long time baking one of the basic recipes from the book (chocolate sour cream cupcakes) and feel very disappointed. I don’t think the book is at fault, but I think for an English girl (hello!) the American way of baking things is a little different – and techniques that are used to save time actually take longer than your own way of doing things until you get used to them. Plus it can make so much washing up! And after I checked on the cupcakes near the end of the baking time to see if they were cooked through (I have a fan oven and so actual cooking times are often less than expected), they all sank! The finished cakes look a real mess (which was upsetting because I’d used some new and fancy cupcake liners) but I have eaten some of the bits that spilled over from the cases and can report that they are very delicious – so perhaps all I need is practise and a few adjustments… And I can fill all the gaps with frosting, so it will be OK.
There’s only really one recipe in the book that is unappealing, and again, I think that can be put down to my Britishness: cream cheese frosting? Really? I know this is fairly common in the US but I can’t see it catching on here.
So, even though I’ve not been successful so far, I still love the book and will make something else from it soon. And next time I make this particular recipe again, I will beat the ingredients by hand the way I usually do, I’ll put less batter in each cupcake, and I’ll have the oven on lower.