Best Stand Mixer

Best Stand Mixer

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KitchenAid Artisan 5 Quart Stand Mixer with Tilt-Head is the best stand mixer.

I am one for the Classic sleek lines of this iconic mixer, with its gleaming chrome embellishments and vibrant Empire Red body. I chose the Artisan Series 5 Quart stand mixer not because of its looks but because of having used KitchenAid equipment at home and work for years.

This mixer is a workhorse

This machine is easy to clean, and I really make a mess. I bake a lot, of cookies, bread, and pastry by the bucket loads. Not including the traditional Challah every week. And as such, I need a machine that can just start and keep going until I am finished.

This mixer is a true stand-alone workhorse. I recently had to make a batch of 56 dozen cookies for 2 combined baby showers afternoon teas for 400 guests. Now as you know that is a lot of cookie dough to produce and a few hours of operation time. Other mixers would have overheated or stopped working properly, and they have. The KitchenAid Artisan 5 Series kept going perfectly from batch one to the last batch.

Basically, I have never had a problem with any KitchenAid tools. That is why I keep coming back and why I am writing this review.

I have used other mixers; in fact, I do still have a foldable Kenwood I picked up cheap when all our possessions were in transit making their way slowly across the country. But my KitchenAid beats all mixers hands down.

KitchenAid mixers are expensive

Yes, KitchenAid machines are expensive and yes, they are worth it.

Their commitment to craftsmanship, outstanding quality and sturdiness are unmatched by most other machines today. Their products (machine stand) have been made in the USA for over 100 years and will continue to be.

Various parts may be produced overseas, such as stainless steel bowls.

Tilt-Head & Pouring Shield

With its tilt-head that locks safely in place, you are easily able to add your ingredients without having to remove the attachments or bowl from the stand. Added to this, you also get a Pouring Shield that fits over the top of the mixing bowl that stops your ingredients from flying everywhere.

This is a game-changer for cooks and bakers. Who has not been covered in flour at least once? There is now no need to try to swaddle the top of the bowl in a kitchen towel, this little cover will make this unnecessary.

Height & Storage

This machine will sit on your bench in pride of place, on display for all to see. If space in your kitchen is at a premium, I would say storing it in a cupboard that is easy to reach without bending over. Safety first.

The overall height of this machine is stated at 13.9 inches but I would recommend that you make sure your storage cupboard has a clearance of at least 15 inches as this will give some extra wiggle room and make your life easier. No one wants to wrestle with their kitchen tools.

More than a Mixer

When you purchase a KitchenAid stand mixer you not only get a magnificent mixer but with the various attachments, attached to the power hub on the front of the machine, you now have a pasta maker, juicer, meat grinder, spiralizer, grain mill, ravioli maker and even an ice cream maker.

From one machine you can great an entire meal while being a space and time saver.

Unboxing

When it comes to the unboxing, this is what will greet you:

  1. 5 Quart (4.73 litres) Stainless Steel Bowl
  2. Coated Flat Beater
  3. Coated Dough Hook
  4. Wire Whisk
  5. Pouring Shield

I have also included the specifications of this mixer from KitchenAid.com as well as adding the metric equivalents, especially if you are in Australia.

  1. Capacity               5.00 – 5.7 litres
  2. Depth                   14-1/10 in – 35.8/25.4cms
  3. Gross Weight     26 lbs – 11.8kgs
  4. Height                   13-9/10 in – 35.6/25.4cms
  5. Net Weight         23 lbs – 10.5kgs
  6. Width                    8-7/10 in
Mixer Models

There are three models to choose from.

Mini Tilt-Head – This is a smaller version of the standard Tilt-Head. Smaller in stature but this machine still retains all the power and functionality as her big sister.

Tilt-Head – This is the model that most are familiar with. Versatile and easy to use. And as the name suggests, the head tilts up and locks in place to add your ingredients without having you remove the attachments and the bowl.

Bowl-Lift – This is the model you need if you have a huge family, or you are addicted to cooking. The bowl itself moves up instead of the head tilting back. It has a bigger motor and a bowl capacity of up to 7 quarts – 8 litres.

Resources

If you are ready to buy or need a little more information have a look at kitchenaid.com. They have all the specifications and resources that you will need.

I hope you have found this review of assistance as I love writing about all my favourite things. This mixer is definitely one of my favourite things.

Cupcake Revolution

Cupcake Revolution

Written by Guest Writer Baci Cake Baker

This page contains affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of the links, at no cost to you. As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

A simple comparison of our love for the simple cupcakes 20 years ago vs. today shows how much they have entered and risen to the top of America’s snack agenda.

I must confess that I am a typical New Yorker. And that I live a stereotypical New York week. Every morning, I just have time to gulp down a black coffee, kiss the family and I’m off on the daily grind.

My next step is a short drive, park the car, and catch the train to Manhattan. But my tummy isn’t happy with me at this point in time, and it won’t accept “NO!” for an answer as we pass our little corner bakery brimming with freshly baked little morsels of cupcakey goodness – and so we have to choose one, on the go, and rush for the train.

My next dilemma, is, whether to try and eat my yummy cupcake on the escalator and hope nobody bumps me or on the train.

So, is the cupcake going to be surpassed as the darling of all snacking, desserts – and even meals on the run? No way.perfect cupcake

Cupcakes are not a new fad. They’ve always been a hit. Just how long they have been around is an iffy subject of its own. Suffice it to say that while stories abound about the birth of the cupcake as far back as the Seventeenth century – the conventional wisdom is that it first saw the light of day in 1919.

As Alison Spiegel wrote in HuffPost “Like any trend, the cupcake … soared so high and fast that naysayers and supporters alike started questioning its status.”

Cupcakes are here to stay

“’ How long can the cupcake trend really last?’ they asked. ‘What’s so great about cupcakes, anyway?’ And then the question that nobody can stop wondering, ‘What’s the next cupcake?’,” asked Alison.

Well, Alison, I don’t believe we’ve seen anything yet! Nothing can beat a perfect cupcake! And, as the world’s demands for convenience foods increase, so will the humble cupcake. In all its forms: from back in 1919 when Hostess started selling their meager offering, to the much-lauded cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery.

Magnolia’s cupcakes, as everyone knows, gained even more stardom when Sex And The City made them the “it” Dessert. For heaven’s sake, naysayers, they even have a National Cupcake Day in Canada. What will do you expect will happen if your predictions of the death of cupcakes come true? Will Magnolia Bakery, with its ability to serve up any flavour combination one, can think of, become a Starbucks?

Nope, sorry to the skeptics, but the writing is not on the wall for cupcakes, in fact, quite the opposite. A recent survey showed that 75 percent of respondents said they have a positive opinion of cupcakes, while a mere 7 percent said they dislike cupcakes.

Crazy cupcake lockdown

With Covid-19 running rampant, and lockdowns frequent, there has been a massive return to home baking. And baking cupcakes, even if they aren’t the perfect cupcake at first go, are so easy that even grandpa and the youngsters can make them.

During the lockdowns, almost everyone in the U.S. had cupcakes delivered or picked them up.  Cupcake sellers boomed, as did grocers were hard-pressed keeping up with supplies to meet the needs of the return to home baking experience. I had to go online and buy up big as I needed good baking equipment. I’ll put a link here to the mixer I bought, worked better than I expected.

And so, we now see families and neighbours competing to make the best cupcakes. Everyone is feverishly Googling cupcake tips, and the standard keeps rising, as do the cupcakes.

The result of all of this has been the fact that I was still able to have my daily cupcake during the lockdown, the only difference was that it was in my own home. Oh, and I even learned to bake a pretty mean cupcake, even if I say so myself!

I don’t know how the sales of cupcakes compare to that of America’s previous top-seller in this niche, donuts. But, if they haven’t done so yet, I predict they will topple donuts sometime soon.

cupcake decoration

Luscious Lemon Cupcakes

Luscious Lemon Cupcakes

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Cupcakes have been around for so long that they are more of a staple dessert treat that everyone seems to love. In recent times, the simple, perfect cupcake has become so increasingly popular that even your corner bakeries can sell out before they are even on the shelves. Their popularity will see them decorating the dessert tables at all kinds of occasions and events, such as weddings, baby showers, book launches, and even football parties. They are increasingly versatile little cakes, whether they are of a more robust nature or are small and delicate, they can be created to suit any theme or occasion.

Eating these sweet, light cakes is always the most important part, closely followed by matching and creating flavours and colours, as well as the decorating of the cupcakes in crazy, exotic, or classically elegant ways. Finding pre-made cupcakes today is simple, as most bakeries or supermarkets will have them. If you want some of the more adventurous flavourings, you will need to visit some speciality cupcake bakeries, or you can start experimenting at home. This is the one I highly recommend.

One simple cupcake recipe

I have one main recipe I use for all my cupcakes; however, I occasionally play around with other recipes such as this one. My Luscious Lemon Cupcake recipe is the one I bake for all of our special occasions. There are a few more ingredients, but the recipe is no more complex than my simple cupcake recipe, however, the results are still spectacular.

It is a cake you will not be unhappy with.

baking lemon cupcakes

Luscious Lemon Cupcakes

3 cups flour

½ Tbs. baking powder

½ tsp. sea salt

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups caster sugar

4 medium eggs

Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

¾ cup full-fat milk

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Icing:

250gm (1 small pack) cream cheese

1 cup Icing (confectioner’s) sugar

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla

1 Tbs. candied lemon peel – pre-made or you can make your own

Preheat oven to 200c. Line 24 cups pan with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, gently mix flour, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar. To this bowl add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Add lemon zest, milk, and lemon juice. Mix through to combine.

Add in the flour mix and mix through until just combined (do not over mix – see this post for more information), scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are mixed in.

Fill each cupcake liner with ¼ cup of the batter (or one ice cream scoop).

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until your cupcakes are slightly golden and just undercooked, as this will give you a moist cake. Let cupcakes cool before icing. Makes about 24 cupcakes.

To make the Lemon Creamcheese Icing:lemon frosting for cupcakes

Mix your room temperature cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar together in a bowl until smooth.

Add lemon juice and candied lemon peel, mix to combine.

Cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes then fill your piping bag and decorate your gorgeous little cupcakes.

Other Flavouring Ideas that will make your cupcakes sing:

Cinnamon Orange – replace the lemon juice and zest with orange juice and zest. Add a small dash of cinnamon to the dry ingredients of the cupcake not in the icing, as this will be overpowering.

Raspberry – Replace the lemon juice and zest with about ½ cup of frozen raspberries. Add a few drops of vanilla to the icing to replace the candied lemon and lemon juice.

Chilli Choc – Great spicy variation. Replace all citrus with good cocoa powder and a small dash of mild chilli powder. Put the chilli into the cupcake itself and leave it out of the icing. Depending upon the heat of the chilli the icing will help to cool the burn. For the icing just add about a Tablespoon of cocoa and I little milk to combine.

*Always remember that your results may vary when using this recipe due to ingredients, moisture in the air, your oven, etc. Don’t worry, baking is all about following a recipe s well as experimenting. So go and have some fun and enjoy the experience.

baking the perfect cupcakes

Best Cupcake Frosting

Best Cupcake Frosting

This page contains affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of the links, at no cost to you. As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

This is one of my all-time favourite cupcake toppings; a simple cheesecake frosting. I know it is the best cupcake frosting; I am also biased.

If you love the traditional carrot cake you will know this recipe as it is the ultimate carrot cake frosting; creamy, sweet, and luscious; this is perfect for your cupcakes, but can also be used on all your cakes and biscuits.

Further, if you love layer cakes, try using the basic vanilla recipe for the cream layer, spread with some lovely strawberry jam and frosting. I have added a link to a wonderful layer cake slicer that I use and have done so for about 6 years.

In short, I am going to give you the simplest of all cream cheese frosting including a few flavour combinations that are total showstoppers for taste.

In addition to using flavour essences – remember less is more, add a drop of the essence of your choice, then taste. Repeat this until you achieve your desired taste strength. However, if it seems that you have added too much flavour, simply add more cream cheese and powdered sugar. You will end up with more frosting, but you will have saved the recipe. Of course, if your frosting seems to be too sweet you can add a few pinches of sea salt. The saltiness will help to tone down the sweetness. In respect to the recipe you are creating, it is all about experimenting and getting an idea of what works for you and what doesn’t.

Simple Cheesecake Frosting Recipe

For a basic Vanilla frosting:

250gm softened Cream Cheese

50gm Powdered Sugar – add more depending upon your sweetness level

½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Tools:

Medium mixing bowl or a stand/bench mixer

Wooden spoon

Spatula for spreading the frosting

Measuring spoons or even just an ordinary teaspoon or tablespoon

Small food scale or cup measures

Directions – Same for all the recipes
  1. Mix in a small bowl or with a stand mixer until combined.
  2. Refrigerate for an hour to firm up, then use.

This recipe is also brilliant to frost or ice any cakes as well as a cream layer in your layer cakes.

Chocolate Cheesecake Frosting:

250gm softened Cream Cheese

100gm Powdered Sugar – add more depending upon your sweetness level

50gm Unsweetened Cocoa Powder sifted

best Chocolate cupcakes

Salted Caramel Frosting:

250gm softened Cream Cheese

3 Tablespoons Pre-made caramel – this will replace the sugar, add more if you need it sweeter

½ teaspoon good quality Sea Salt

Salted caramel frosting

Cherry Cheesecake Frosting:

250gm softened Cream Cheese

50gm Powdered Sugar – add more depending upon your sweetness level

2 Tablespoons low-sugar Cherry Jam

(St Dalfours of France is the one I prefer)

A nice twist is to add a cherry with the stem attached on top of the cupcake for serving – just let those eating them that the cherry pip is still in.

Cherry cheesecake frosting

Classic Lemon Frosting:

250gm softened Cream Cheese

50gm Powdered Sugar – add more depending upon your sweetness level

Finely grated rind of a medium-sized unwaxed lemon

Lemon Frosting

Orange Frosting:

250gm softened Cream Cheese

50gm Powdered Sugar – add more depending upon your sweetness level

Finely grated rind of a medium-sized unwaxed Orange

Orange frosting

Choc Mint Blast Frosting:

250gm softened Cream Cheese

100gm Powdered Sugar – add more depending upon your sweetness level

3 Drops of Peppermint Essence – from the supermarket baking section

50gms Cocoa Powder Unsweetened sifted

Choc Mint

These are just a few of the 1000s of flavour combinations you can create, the only thing that is holding you back is your imagination.

Enjoy!

perfect cupcakes

My Simple Cupcake Recipe

My Simple Cupcake Recipe

This is the recipe I use all the time. It is a basic vanilla cupcake but with a few tweaks in flavour and size, you can make all kinds of plain, fancy, or dinner party-worthy creations; just let your imagination run wild. 

Always remember everyone’s experiences with baking will vary, due to ingredients, air moisture, the temperature of the day, etc. Don’t get discouraged if this recipe gives a different result than expected, just have a play with the amounts and see what works best for you. If the mix is too dry you can add a little milk to thin it out. Enjoy.

cupcake ingredients

Cupcake Ingredients

2 medium room temp. eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup of caster sugar

½ cup of softened unsalted butter

1 cup of plain cake flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

Various decorations such as premade icing, buttercream icing (below), or cheesecake topping.

patty pans

Directions

Preheat oven to 200 c.

Line cupcake pans with wrappers/patty pans.

Mix sugar, butter, and vanilla until combined. Add eggs and mix through.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Try not to over mix as this will give you rubbery cupcakes (they will still taste good).

Fill each wrapper with 1 ice cream scoop or half full.

Bake for 14 to 16 mins, or until slightly undercooked. This will give you a moist cupcake.

Allow to cool for at least 2 hours before decorating or the icing will melt off (they will look interesting).

Simple Buttercream icing

This is so simple, easy to use, and quick to make.

Ingredients

1 heaped cup of softened Butter

2 heaped cups of Icing sugar/powdered sugar

A few drops of flavour or colour – vanilla, cherry, purple colouring, etc.

For Chocolate Icing add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pure cocoa powder (non-sweetened)

Directions

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and either mix by hand or with an electric mixer. Try not to over mix as the mix could split.

Cool in the fridge for about 3o minutes before using.

This is a good recipe to play with when it comes to flavour and colours.

perfect cupcakes

Who says boys can’t Bake!

Who says boys can’t Bake!

Written by Guest Writer – Baci Cake Baker

Isn’t it amazing how much Lockdown has taught us about our personal limitations, or, more precisely, the lack thereof? So many of the things we have simply taken for granted that we thought we could, or could not, do – have been turned on their head.

We have upskilled ourselves in issues such as family dynamics, just being alone in a room, and just getting out of the ruts we placed ourselves in. This is especially true when it comes to what to feed my family.

As a working mom with two teenage daughters and a son, in my home, it has become the norm that I or the girls cook, and my hubby and son wash up.

perfect cupcakes

Why? Because we have always followed the stereotype.

But Lockdown changed all the stereotypes and paradigms in our lives, and it sure upped the ante of the importance of food in our homes.

Our next meal, or snack, was suddenly the most important point of discussion in my home. The family now expects a lot more of each other, as the meal planner and budget shopper.

Between my hubby and three ravenous teens, I found myself in the beginning constantly bombarded with “What can I eat?” and “Not pasta again!” to the point that I exploded and insisted on a family meeting. “Now!” I demanded sternly.

Given the fact that I was the food planner in the house, I knew I had the upper hand. None of them thought they could manage without me. And so, I used my position of strength: “Firstly,” I said firmly, “everyone is going to have to play their part.”

By the time we got up from the table, food and cooking, were never to be the same again.

Everyone, including myself, understood that we had to extend the repetitive menu items we had grown accustomed to.

We would, in the future, make new dishes, using flavour that was not part of our usual fare. I pledged to return to home baking which I really enjoyed when first married. Snacks, sides, and deserts would be cooked as far as possible.

In fact, we decided, we would not make anything we were used to having. It would all be new, and the girls and I would share our passion for cooking by having one of the two boys at our sides every time we made or baked anything.

While my hubby and son were a bit skeptical that they could learn such things at first. Cooking? Baking? Meal planning?

We started right away. I told the boys to get ready for their first lesson and decided to bake the old failsafe of cupcakes. Baking a simple cupcake can’t fail, I reasoned, and we didn’t have to create the perfect cupcake just yet.

I Googled cupcake tips to make sure I would not make a fool of myself. After all, with three teens, this was something I had not done in a decade. The guys were very keen starters and would ask me questions as we went along.

Of course, choosing cupcakes as our first project turned out to be a masterstroke. We mixed two batches of creamy vanilla batter as each of them wanted a turn. Cupcakes are easy to mix and bake and the boys did a sterling job, except it looked like a cyclone had filled up their cups. Each of the kids has their own personality and these came out in their flair for making the cupcakes, two are quite conservative and filled the cups with less batter. And the other two, being outgoing and mischievous tried to put enough batter into one cup that would easily fill three.

patty pans

I just stood back and allowed them to experiment. They needed to make mistakes and learn from them. I had used the same philosophy when teaching my daughters, with the same amount of mess.

Needless to say, when their creations came out of the oven, they were proud as punch. As we waited for their fare to cool, I taught them both how to make silky buttercream to add that perfect final touch.

Icing became a creative competition between the two boys; they were like two kids on Christmas morning.  Later, I would teach them how to create using fondant icing.

It wasn’t long before our boys were falling over themselves to add to what became their insatiable quest to outbake the girls and I.

perfect cupcakes

Tricks for Great Cupcakes

Tricks for Great Cupcakes

This page contains affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of the links, at no cost to you.

Globally, we are living in an age of a resurgence of baking and a return to home cooking. The Perfect Cupcake is already a family favourite treat and has turned into a household contest to see who can deliver the perfect cupcake.

This article doesn’t contain my best cupcake recipe, you will however find it by clicking here. If you have found yourself here, I am guessing you have some rather wonderful recipes, but they may need a few tweaks for perfection.

I have therefore decided to offer some personal experiences as a cupcake baker of long-standing. Call them cupcake tips or cupcake tricks – but, hey, if I can save you from making some of the bad rookie experiences I had to live through, it is worth a read.

So, let’s get to it with the questions I am asked most often.

My favorite Online Baking Shop

This is a blatant affiliate link but it is somewhere I love to shop online, as it has everything I need is Bakedeco. It has it all including ingredients and great equipment. I also shop at my local supermarket, Kmart, Target, etc. I buy new and second-hand baking tins, garage sales always have great baking pans in fantastic condition.

perfect cupcakes

How do you keep your cupcakes in a perfectly consistent size and shape?

It seems like almost everyone struggles with this one. The best tip I can offer is what I do: For a perfect shape and consistently on cupcakes, I use an ice cream scoop. A three-tablespoon ice cream scoop will fill a cupcake liner (patty pan if you are in Australia/UK) to 2/3 full. This, of course, is the perfect amount for every cupcake. Less than ¾ and they won’t rise to where you want them, above the liner edge, any more than that and you will be cleaning cake sludge off the bottom of your oven.

Is it better to use oil or butter?

This is a personal choice. I use butter for special occasion cupcakes but for everyday cakes, I will use oil instead of butter, either canola oil or olive oil. The oils have a fat content that will make your cupcakes slightly more moister than they would have been with butter.

Substitute ¾ cup of oil for every cup of butter the recipe calls for. You can also do a half/half butter to oil recipe. This also works well.

cake flour

What is the best flour to use in my cupcakes?

Cupcakes are made with lots of sugar, so use normal cake flour. It creates that light and airy texture you are looking for in your cupcakes. If you are lucky enough to find French cake flour, use that. I have not done my usual research into why French flour seems to work well, but it adds something to your cupcakes.

How do you always get your cupcake texture perfect?

The art of baking a fluffy, moist cupcake is simple science. You are looking to add air bubbles. If you do that in your batter, it will expand the cupcake in the oven. Then, be careful that you don’t over-mix the batter. If you do, you cause those precious bubbles to collapse and you end up with an inedible rubbery disaster. It’s a question of trial and error on this one, I’m afraid, the only help I can offer is that I mix on low speed, and I stop as soon as all my ingredients seem blended.

Baking seems to underly most questions – so here are a few suggestions:

It is all-important where in your oven you place your cupcakes. Place cupcake pans in the centre of a rack, and right in the middle of your oven. This guarantees good airflow and evens out the heat distribution. If you ever take out cupcakes and find them overcooked on one side, this is the most likely reason.

Where to place in the oven: Prewarm your oven to 205°C (400°F). I know it is scary to deviate from your recipe but do try this and see how you go. You may be surprised.

This is a bit higher than most recipes call for, but a lower temperature will result in cupcakes with flat tops. If you go any higher than 205°C, your cupcake’s edges will solidify first, the centre will rise, and you will get an unwanted domed top. Also, remember not to use fan-forced mode. Rather set it at “conventional”.

If you use a fan-forced oven, reduce the temperature by 20°C which will imitate conventional settings.

I frequently get called by frantic friends telling me their cupcakes have either shrunk or sunk after baking. This is primarily due to having used too much egg. It is infuriating when recipes just say “egg”. Eggs vary substantially in size and moisture content. If that has happened to you and your cupcakes have failed, be careful to note the size of the egg you have used and use smaller ones in future.

One idea to note is that from my research of old baking recipes, many will state a medium egg. This is what I tend to use for myself.

simple cupcakes

Will icing (or frosting in America) thicken in the fridge?

Icing will most definitely thicken in the fridge. Weigh your options. Do you want soft icing in the end? Some recipes call for adding extra ingredients, using warm icing (which can become runny very quickly and many other techniques and textures.

How do I thicken my icing/frosting?

The easiest method, here, is to use cornflour (or corn-starch in America). Simply add a half-teaspoon into your bowl of runny icing. Whisk by hand – or electric mixer. Check its consistency now. If it is good, good. If not repeat the exact same process – and continue until your mixture reaches your perfect thickness.

And that, as they say, is that. Happy baking.

perfect cupcakes

How flavour works

How flavour works

If a little is good, more must be better, right?

The art of using flavour in cooking or baking is typically understood to be the enhancement or altering of taste by adding a specific ingredient. Wrong!

Using flavour should, in fact, better be referred to as a flavour combination. There are very few cases where one flavour can enhance a dish or cake by itself. Adding salt to rice is a rare example.

But throwing salt over your chips is a completely different matter. Here, the salt acts in combination with the other tasted that the frying process added. Flavour combination. What spice to use, and how much, is a question of a flavour combination. What did the oil add to the taste? To properly spice your chips, you should taste one first and then plan the flavour combination.

Flavour combinations

What is flavour? How does one use it best? How does one combine flavours to reach a certain desired outcome?

Most top chefs will not work from a recipe book. They understand what the outcome they are looking for is, and that is what they deliver. If they were to follow an exact recipe, they may not account for how tasty, say, the original meat or fish is. How watery individual lots of vegetables are. How long to sear Salmon, or what size the eggs were.

A myriad of reasons can cause a baker’s carrot cake to taste too carroty, or not carotty enough.

carrot cupcake

Flavour is all about taste. And combining flavours, is all about achieving the desired taste.

Scientists have searched long and hard for the secrets of taste. While opinions differ, it was generally accepted by scientists that humans could detect just four basic taste sensations: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.

However, the 1990 International Symposium on Glutamate, recognised a distinctive fifth taste. It was dubbed umami, after a Japanese word meaning “a pleasant savoury taste”. Umami was further validated in 2006 when neuroscientists at the University of Miami located the umami taste-bud receptors. Using the term as an indicator of taste can be traced back hundreds of years in Japanese culture.

And, it added to everyone else’s culture. Take avocados, for example, food scientists were always at a loss as they could not identify all tastes under the sweet, sour, bitter, and salty paradigm.

Umami is difficult for non-Japanese to easily identify. But it certainly answered questions that taste scientists had long been baffled by. Consider the avocado. It undoubtedly didn’t fit in any of these four categories. Once umami was recognised, however, scientists suddenly found a category that accurately defines the flavour of avocado.

Understanding the palate, which is really the tongue, helps a cook or baker to ‘feel’ the taste they want to achieve. What’s wrong with adding a bit of ginger to your “RECIPE” for cinnamon cookies? Recipes were handed down to mankind from Mount Sinai. They are guidelines, not Bibles.

chocoalte spices

So, let’s get back to the core of this topic: “Great flavours and how to use them,” and “Is more flavour better?”

First and foremost, the almost eight billion humans living on earth taste in almost eight billion ways. Each would define a great “flavour” differently. Therefore, it depends on so many factors that the only rule about flavour, is that there is no rule about flavour.

Each cook or baker must understand and feel the flavour of what they prepare. They would never have found themselves in the profession if they didn’t. Anyone who understands cooking or baking, and who feels it, knows this.

Taste is much more complex because it is a combination of flavours.

In answer to the question: “Is more flavour better?”, the answer is no.

The flavour should be used to enhance the existing flavour. Like taking a lick of salt before tequila and biting into a wedge of lime after. They befuddle. The salt is clearly speaking to your brain as you knock back the shot, and the lime hits your brain quickly, as sour does. Your mind may have never even tasted the tequila!

lime in the tequila

Adding conflicting flavours that do not enhance the taste, only serves to befuddle the brain.

My take on spicing and flavouring is to try and choose complementary tastes that add value to my cooking and baking.

Remember, when you are unsure, less is better.

Cupcake Basics

Cupcake Basics

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Everybody loves to eat cupcakes and you have decided to jump in and have a go at creating a batch. It is so simple to make them and you only need a few basic skills and tools. You will not need any speciality tools that you will spend weeks tracking down as many of them you probably already have in your kitchen.

Once you have the basics you can create perfect cupcakes for any event, party or just because you deserve it. And after the last few years, we all deserve some cupcakes!

No matter the reason you are making them they will be special and magical. Cupcakes do not always need to be sweet, they can be savoury too. However, the savoury version falls closer to the muffin side than a cake but they are still great to eat.

Following are a few tips to get you started with your baking of the perfect cupcake easily.

Tools & Equipment
Baking equipement

Some of the basic baking implements you will need can also do double duty for many of your baking projects. To begin, you need to have cupcake pans (paper cups that surround your cakes) which come in assorted sizes from mini to jumbo. They may have different names where you live, such as being called Pattie-pans in Australia. These can be purchased in any grocery store. In addition, you should buy paper-baking cups that are offered that are produced by a reputable company. These paper liners are not just there to make your cupcakes look pretty but they also make cleaning up a breeze.

Measuring cups and metal spoons in various sizes, an electric stand or hand mixer, and a fan-forced oven are also essential kitchen implements. With baking, it is important to get your measurements right, so investing in a simple measuring scale is a great idea.

You will want to decorate your cupcakes with either frosting or gorgeous embellishments. Your grocery store baking aisle is a treasure trove of jewelled sugar work flowers, sparkles, confetti, etc. Now you can even purchase pre-made and coloured gum and fondants. When it comes to frosting, whether bought or made by you, having a lean budget does not stop you. Pipping bags and nozzles are cheap, or you can use a resealable bag and snip the corner off for decorating.

With pipping nozzles or tips, I use these gorgeous tips, because the icing comes out clean and there are so many decorations you can create, from roses to dots and ribbons. Your imagination can go wild.

Usual cupcake ingredients

There are many pre-made cake mixes in a myriad of flavours available. As stated above, you can also buy ready to use frostings, decorating gels, sprinkles, and other edible goodies to decorate your cupcakes. For making your cupcakes from scratch, you can find many cupcake ideas on the Web or follow this link to my own go-to recipe that you can modify to create any cupcakes.

Traditional recipes for cupcakes typically have all-purpose flour, salt-reduced butter, white sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt, vanilla flavouring, and milk. Many bakers will tell you to use French flour and butter to make the perfect little morsel. To begin with, the ingredients you buy in your local store will work just as well. You can add various ingredients to this basic batter just like blueberries, nuts, chocolate, vegetables, and fruits.

Cupcake cooking tips
french flour and french butter

When baking cupcakes, make sure that your ingredients are close to room temperature as this tends to help make your cake light and airy. When mixing, make sure not to go crazy, if you over-mix you will find that the finished product will have small tunnels running through them and they will be a little rubbery.

For moist cupcakes, it is essential that you don’t overbake them and follow the temperature directions exactly. A minute or so before they are ready, test them with a skewer or a toothpick, if it comes out nearly clean they are ready and will be moist.

One last tip is to make sure that your cupcakes are absolutely cool before you frost or decorate them because if they are still warm whatever you add to them will melt. This was one of my first mistakes many years ago.

These tips are designed to help you in your baking journey and make your life sweeter. I am constantly updating and adding to the site so please check back regularly.

Enjoy.