Sunday, May 25, 2008

The First Post, and Sunshine Cupcakes

Sometime last fall, when I was still in the formulating stages of creating a thesis around food and American culture, I had two potential cookbook ideas.

The first was rather involved, and it necessitated me receiving some sort of grant money. I didn't want to get too specific about the type of grant, because who am I to say who can give me money to do what I want? I wouldn't refuse an opportunity that comes my way. With this money, I'd buy an Airstream trailer with a kitchen and travel all over the United States talking to people about their traditional family recipes. The Airstream, in case you were wondering, is necessary to this plan because as the cookbook author I'd need to make each of these recipes. My friend Katie said she'd help me photograph and taste-test everything. After the terms of the grant ran out, I'd have compiled all the favorite family recipes in the nation. What better cookbook can you want? Everything was bound to be delicious.

That idea, minus the grant and road trip aspects, has given way to one facet of my research: talking to people about what food has to do with their family heritage. Luckily it seems people are willing to talk on this point. I've already received promises of stories about three different types of stuffed cabbage.

My second idea, which luckily is small enough for me to pursue on the side, has to do with cupcakes. There are lots of cupcake cookbooks, I know, but this one is meant to be pleasing to two types of cooks: those who read recipes in the traditional cookbook format, and those who would rather read a diagram and bake from there. Each cupcake, invented by me, would have two pages in the book. The first would show a photograph of the cupcake with your regular list of ingredients followed by a paragraph of instructions. The second page, however, would show an artist's rendering of the cupcake (in my head, this is done in watercolor) with schematic-like lists of the contents of both cake and frosting, with short instructions to the side.

I shared this idea with my friend Mike, who happens to be quite a cupcake enthusiast, and he was willing to put up with my discussions about watercolors in order to taste my creations. I made my first last fall after tasting a particularly good key lime hard candy: Key Lime Cupcakes. Unfortunately I can't share that recipe right now as it's at home in Indiana and I'm finishing my semester in Scotland. I have, however, brainstormed another new cupcake, though it has yet to be tested. Details on that to follow upon my return home. Here it is:

Sunshine Cupcakes
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
orange zest

Cream butter, then add sugar until well mixed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then alternate adding the flour and liquid ingredients until smooth. Scoop the batter into the lined cupcake tin and cook for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting. Makes 24 cupcakes.

2 tbsp butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 tbsp orange juice
1/2 tbsp milk

Beat ingredients together until mixed. Frost cooled cupcakes, then serve and add some sunshine to your day!


Nate said...

Kudos, Amy. I continue to adore the concept behind your thesis. Great first post!

Staci said...

Amy, This is SO YOU! :) I absolutely love it. You're such a fun person. this is def my homepage!

Mike said...

The Key Lime Cupcakes were pertty darn amazing...perrty darn