Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Baking Class: Butter Lane Cupcakes

I had the pleasure of joining a group of ladies from the Urban Girl Squad at Butter Lane Cupcakes last night for a baking class. I don't journey downtown often, but let me tell you: The cupcakes and baking/decorating classes at Butter Lane are officially added to my list of excuses to hop on the subway. All ingredients are fresh, natural, and ideally local as well. Best of all, not a glimpse of fondant in sight!

We learned some tricks of the trade to help us improve our baking techniques:
  • Use cake flour when making cupcakes. It has less gluten than all purpose flour, and will make for a lighter cake.
  • When mixing your flour into the wet ingredients in your recipe, less is more. Don't mix the batter too much, or you'll develop more gluten in the flour. Translation: Chewy cupcakes. Stop your mixer (or your spoon) when the flour just disappears.
  • On the other hand, it's the opposite when making a good butter cream frosting. For nice fluffy, light frosting, mix for a longer period of time.
  • Even when you're not making cream cheese frosting, add some to frosting recipe. It's not exactly intuitive, but it cuts down on the amount of sugar you need in your cupcake topping. 
  • Move beyond the basic vanilla, chocolate, and cream cheese frosting flavors. Feeling adventurous? Mix a scoop of peanut butter into your chocolate frosting! Add some fresh fruit preserves into your vanilla frosting! Shake some cinnamon into that cream cheese!
  • Use an ice cream scoop when you add the cupcake batter to your liners. It will ensure that you have an equal amount of cupcake mix in each cup.
Disclaimer: I am in no way a skilled cupcake decorator, as you can see from the above photo. The other women and I did our best, but we were no match for our teacher... who had attended pastry school! This was a delicious treat though, and I truly enjoyed my experience at Butter Lane. I look forward to developing my decorating skills in the coming years.

If you're in New York City, stop by the bakery on East 7th Street for a dessert to remember. Whether you're a local or some distance from Manhattan, you'll definitely enjoy the recipes posted on the Butter Lane Cupcakes page on Facebook (like the page, then look under PDFs). Happy baking!

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