I have never been much of a baker. My grandmother was an amazing baker, her pies were so amazing that I've pretty much given up even trying to make pies because they never turn out the way gramma used to bake. And, for the most part, unless I'm really in the mood, or it's the holiday season, I don't really enjoy baking cookies, I find it tremendously tedious.
I used to enjoy making cakes, but, somewhere along the way, I fell out of love with it, perhaps because I could never make them look nearly as lovely as I would like to... I have never felt at ease with a pastry bag in my hands, fumbling nervously with trying to make a simple rosette.
But, I love cupcakes! Even though I still do not feel at ease with the pastry bag, I can use it to pipe a simple spiral of frosting onto the top of a cupcake and make it look nice. Of course, they aren't so fancy that you'd want to put them on the cover of Martha Stewart's magazine or anything, but, they're still attractive enough to entice someone to want to eat one!
Besides, what a great treat to enjoy with a cup of tea?
(Photo Credit: Courtney, from HeyLadyCards. You can purchase her beautiful Cupcake Bath Bombs here.)
A few months ago, I purchased The Cupcake Deck by Elinor Klivans. I've tried a few recipes in the deck, and I've been fairly pleased with the outcome, however, I found the cupcakes to be a bit "lighter" than I wanted them to be. Sure, the light texture does have it's positive aspects, but, I found them to be a bit "too light" in texture to support the creaminess of my buttercream frosting...
Which brings me to the subject of frosting... it took me quite a while to perfect my recipe for buttercream frosting. I wanted something delicious, smooth, creamy, but not too sweet... I still suffer from nightmarish memories of buttercream frostings that was sickeningly sweet, slathered onto a store-bought birthday cake, purchased as an afterthought when my birthday had been forgotten. And the canned frostings... should stay in the can! yuck!
So, after many, many attempts with different buttercream frostings, I learned that it's not only the recipe but the way you process the frosting that is important when making buttercream.
(Photo Credit: Maureen, from ARoseWithoutAThorn. You can purchase these lovely faux cupcakes here.)
So... I'm happy with my buttercream, and I don't want to change that recipe, so now what I need is a cupcake that can stand on it's own with my frosting and not taste like a fluffy cloud of air sitting under my delightful buttercream.
And, since I'm not much of a baker, I am not sure exactly how I would go about adjusting a recipe to create such a masterpiece of a cupcake...
And, well, I have tried mixes. And I DO like cake baked from a mix. However, I prefer to know what I'm putting in to the foods I eat, and I'd really like to find just the right "from scratch" recipe.
So, I'm turning to you, my dear readers, to help me in my endeavor to find the perfect cupcake recipe (or recipes!) -- And the winner of this contest will win a tea time gift from me, complete with a brand new chatsford teapot and 6 tea sampler tins, filled with your choice of teas from my collection.
1. Get your recipe! The recipe can be any flavor -- vanilla, chocolate... or anything in between... Just please make sure that the ingredients are easily obtainable. And, since I am a tea fan, it's better if you don't have coffee as one of the ingredients. However, if you have a recipe that uses tea as one of the ingredients... you get extra bonus points!
2. Email it to me by December 10. (Click on the link to get to my email address)
I will be making these recipes and they will be tested by a panel of experts that I assembled myself (my two daughters and myself). The recipe that we like the best will win the tea time gift!
(Photo credit: Roz from RozArt. You can purchase this, or another of her lovely paintings, here.)Now, there may be more than 1 winner! For example, if we happen to like a vanilla recipe and a chocolate recipe equally... then, I'll award two tea time gifts!
SPECIAL BONUS POINTS: Special bonus points will be awarded for cupcake recipes possessing one of the following qualities:
1. Tea in the recipe. This pretty much speaks for itself. However, one qualifying point, no INSTANT tea... that stuff is just really gross.
2. Butter Pecan recipe. I LOVE the Betty Crocker Butter Pecan cake mix. I add ripe, mashed banana to this recipe and make amazing banana cupcakes that my oldest daughter adores.
OK... so that's it. I don't know when the official winner(s) of this contest will be announced, because it really depends upon how many entries we receive... because, we can't bake all the cupcakes at once, because I'm sure that if I did that, my adoration of cupcakes would quickly fade into... something else.
But, I will keep you updated!!!
So, please... send in your recipes! I look forward to trying your best!