I love to read or live to read, not sure which one it is. My day is not complete if I don't have at least a few minutes of reading time. Ideally, this reading time is with a good book, but a magazine or blog will work. Reading relaxes me.
I recently finished reading The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel. The main character, Hope, owns a bakery in Cape Cod. The bakery had once belonged to her Grandmother who is now suffering from Alzheimer's disease. With urging by her Grandmother, Hope travels to Paris and begins to uncover secrets her Grandmother has carried for over 70 years. It's a story of lost and found love, the Holocaust, new relationships. I really enjoyed it.
Interspersed throughout the book were recipes from the fictional bakery. Most of the recipes have a Jewish or Muslim background, so they are a little unusual, not things I would be inclined to make. My Granddaughter spent the night and, as usual, asked if we could bake something. I remembered that the book had a recipe for simple vanilla cupcakes. I had a full day of plans and chores ahead of me so this recipe allowed me to play in the kitchen with her but not spend all day baking. The bakery makes the cupcakes with pink frosting, my Granddaughter wanted purple, so purple is what she did!
My Granddaughter is four. Anytime we bake I try to incorporate numbers, counting and measuring into our baking time. She doesn't realize that I'm schooling her and I can see results. Today, as we were using the Kitchenaid mixer, I told her to turn the mixer to number 4. She did and I was impressed. We turned the mixer off and I added the flour. Before I could tell her we would start with number 2, she had turned on the mixer to 4 and we had a flour explosion! This was her face after she turned the mixer off. We had a good laugh and then I taught her how to clean up! There are all sorts of life lessons to be learned in a kitchen!
The cupcakes have a nice vanilla flavor and use common ingredients. No running to the store for a special ingredient to make these! We only used half a recipe of the frosting as we didn't need all that sugar. More frosting would have made a prettier-looking cupcake but we had enough mess in my kitchen for one day, anyway!
I sent the cupcakes home with her, to give to her Mommy & Daddy. She was so proud of them!
North Star Vanilla Cupcakes
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy, then beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla extract and mix well.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt, and add to the butter mixture, about a cup a time, alternating with milk.
Fill muffin cups about halfway. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or just until a skewer inserted through the top of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then move to wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, frost with pink icing.
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon milk
1-3 drops red food coloring
Beat the butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Gradually add the sugar and beat until well blended.
Add the vanilla and milk and continue to beat until well-blended.
Add one drop of red food coloring and beat well to incorporate. If you'd like the icing to be a deeper pink, add one or two drops more, and beat after each drop to incorporate.