Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Lemon Buttercream

Sometimes, I forget why I love baking.

I get so caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the day that I just...forget. I forget what butter and sugar look like mixed together. I forget what it's like to feel dough kneaded between my fingers. I forget what it's like to spread homemade icing on a cake, or pressing down buttery delicious graham cracker crumbs into a springform pan. I forget the heat of the oven, the smell of freshly baked cinnamon apple muffins, the first bite into a homemade cookie...

I forget all of the things that are so important to me. That keep me calm, balanced, and happy.

Baking has always been my get-away vacation from the norm. It's time I spend alone in a kitchen with nothing but frantic ideas. It's relaxing, for the most part. And even when it's not -- even when you take a task on so great that you end up curled into a ball on the kitchen floor with icing in your hair and a mess on the counters... you still feel like you conquered the world once that awesome dessert you spent 5 hours to perfect is on your table ready to be served, its demanding presence drawing everyone in.

They ooh, and ahh, and smile, and become happy with each bite. Therefore, making you happy in the process. Because not only did you totally kick that recipes BUTT, but you made people smile and forget their problems.

Baking is a gift. And I need to find more time in my life to do it.

That's why I forced myself in the kitchen yesterday. Though I dreaded the pile of dishes that would follow, I proceeded with confidence. I thought up a recipe. I mixed it all together. I baked them at 350F. And then I frosted them.

Thus, the birth of Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Lemon Buttercream.

And despite the natural light outside not doing well for my little starter DSLR, I went ahead and posted anyway.

'Cause honestly? These cupcakes could make anyones day ten times better.

I've never actually used real vanilla bean in a recipe before, so I was excited when I did for this one. I practically jumped around the room, showing everyone my vanilla bean.

I must've sounded like some kind of Ina Garten obsessed freakshow.

"Look! LOOK! It's a VANILLA BEAN. A REAL VANILLA BEAN! Oh my God. It's the pod and everything! Holy crap! I've only seen this on the teevee!"

Sadly, no one seemed as enthralled by it as I was.

Whatever. Don't judge me.

Anyway, I'm glad I mixed this into the buttercream. It added a fantastic vanilla flavor that I just loved. I used just a little bit of lemon, not enough to overpower it. I didn't want to get rid of that vanilla bean flavor. But you can definitely taste undertones of it. And when your teeth hit the perfect, fluffy vanilla cupcake underneath, you will be in spring HEAVEN.

It's really great to make for any spring-time get together, for church or just for friends coming over for a bit. I highly recommend eating it outside with a pitcher of lemonade while it's nice and sunny...preferably by a pool :) (If you don't have a pool, that's ok -- i'm sure those weird neighbors across the street wont mind you using theirs.)

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Lemon Buttercream


Vanilla Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick butter (8tbsp), room temperature (VERY important!)
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream or full-fat yogurt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla Bean Lemon Buttercream
1 vanilla bean
1 large lemon (or 2 small)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 sticks butter (16tbsp), room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place cupcake liners in a 12pc cupcake pan or spray with nonstick spray or bakers spray.

2. In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or hand mixer), combine the flour, sugar and baking powder together. Add in the butter, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream/yogurt, and mix for 30 seconds (or 1 minute for hand mixer) until the dough is smooth with no clumps, making sure to scrape down the sides.

3. Disperse batter evenly into cupcake pan. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until tops are pale golden and a toothpick through the middle cupcake comes out clean. Once done, leave to cool on a wire wrack.

4. Meanwhile, make the frosting. To a bowl, add the butter, vanilla extract, the zest of 1 large lemon, and the juice of the same lemon. Mix together briefly to combine. Using a sharp knife, cut down the middle of the vanilla bean and scrape the beans inside out and into the mixing bowl. Mix again until the beans are incorporated into the butter. Add 3-4 cups gradually to the bowl until your frosting has the consistency you like, checking for taste after each addition (make sure it's not TOO sweet!)

5. Once cupcakes are cooled COMPLETELY, frost cupcakes as you desire (I just swirled them on with a knife... I'm simple.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

Before I talk about these beautiful, delicious rolls of love... let me tell you 5 reasons why these should not invoke any guilty conscious in you when you make them (and eat all of them).

1. Cinnamon. Cinnamon is good for you. It's high in antioxidants, helps digestion, and also lowers stress!

2. Has enough carbohydrates to make you want to wrestle a bear. And really, hasn't everyone always wanted to wrestle a bear before?

3. You actually can tell people what ingredients go in them! Bet you can't do that with your regular old supermarket cinnamon rolls.

4. They give you a work-out! Rollin' the dough out for these babies is like running a marathon. You'll have so much arm muscle after this you'll be able to lift up a car! (disclaimer: please do not actually attempt said statement after eating cinnamon rolls as it may cause hip displacement or other injuries to vital areas)

5. It makes 7 pans. 7. Pans. What are you going to do with 7 pans of cinnamon rolls?! You practically have to give them away! This recipe actually ENCOURAGES will-power, selflessness, and kindness to your neighbors! (even if you're still pissed at them for stealing your mail for a year)

Now that we've gotten that over with, we can continue with how amazing these cinnamon rolls are. They will make men propose to you. Make your manager give you a raise. They'll make you the most popular chick (or guy) around. Soon enough, people will be begging you to make more. In fact, they'll demand it. They are that good.

Just don't tell anyone it has four and a half sticks of butter in it. Especially not Jillian Michaels. She might come to my house and make me do burpies.

I hate burpies.

Really, though, if you want to make a special treat... This is it. This recipe makes A LOT of cinnamon rolls... so if you make the full recipe, be prepared to give some away. I gave two batches to my neighbor, three to my work (they were gone two days), and froze the last two. They are better than any cinnamon rolls you'll buy from a bakey. And people will be super impressed when you tell them you made them yourself. I highly recommend starting the night before and finishing it in the morning. You can easily freeze these like I did after their done baking or before you put them in the oven. Either way, people will be singing your praises.

Just make sure you save one for yourself.
Remember: Cinnamon rolls make your digestion better.

And who doesn't like being regular?




Better Than Supermarket Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Frosting


1 quart whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 packages active dry yeast (o.25 oz packets)
8 cups (plus 1 cup flour, separated) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
1 teaspoon (scant) baking soda
2 cups butter (4 sticks butter), melted
2 cups sugar
Generous amount of ground cinnamon

Maple Frosting

2lbs powdered sugar (1 large bag)
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup brewed coffee
1/8tsp salt


1. Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

2. After rising for at least an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).

3. When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

4. Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.

5. Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans.

6. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees (see note below) until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.

For the frosting, mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls. Go crazy and don’t skimp on the frosting.


Dunk Twice Copyright © 2009 Cookiez is Designed by Ipietoon for Free Blogger Template