I went to a BBQ yesterday and discovered Joy the Baker. No, she was not at the BBQ, but her pretzels were. When someone I know whose baking I respect tells me there’s a great baking blog I should check out, I’m no fool. I check it out.
This is not her recipe. Her recipes all have beautiful pictures. Her wit is what I aspire to but often fail to possess. She does not take a hunk of butter and combine it with icing sugar in unmeasured porportions, then add some beet juice for colour and a little vanilla extract. Yes, those are the basic ingredients in frosting, but she has the experience to know that you need to be careful with the butter:sugar ratio or you end up with pink soup.
Now it’s not as bad as another lady I respect: Renée Zellweger, aka Bridget Jones and her blue soup (I respect Renée, not Bridget), but this is turned out to be far from gourmet.
Joy the Baker would know that cupcakes stopped being popular last year. For awhile there they were the new cake, but then came macaroons. Now macaroons are done and gelato has filled the void. There’s a shop in Montreal called Point G (G Spot for anglos…same meaning) that tried to combine the new gelato with the old macaroons. I feel sorry for them. Macaroons are done. That’s like trying to wear bellytops again – give it 10 years and the circle will come around again to all bakers’ chagrin. They just don’t get it, these Point G people, but I suppose a lot of people don’t. At least I’m still doing better than that.
Marginally. My roommate had a birthday. Birthdays mean cake, but all I had was cupcakes. I used a chestnut torte recipe but poured the batter into lined cupcake tins. Light as air chestnut cupcakes, mind you; the epitome of cupcakes, but they needed icing. Then a problem:
How do you give someone 5 cupcakes for their birthday? I couldn’t eat the icing because I’m lactose-intolerant and it was made from a cup of butter. But it’s weird to say, “Here are 5 birthday cupcakes! Hurray! You’re older!”
Besides, my frosting was too liquid. I’d made a ton of it because a cake requires a ton, but it would just slide right off the cupcakes. I had an idea! I’ll build a cake tower! Or something kind of resembling a trifle, where the cake is in cubes and covered in cream (in this case frosting)! What a novel idea! 2 cups of icing sugar would replace 2 cups of whipped cream in trifle for a diabetic coma of aging.
Except I thought that would look messy. A birthday cake needs to look pretty or it doesn’t feel like much of a present. So I placed the cupcakes as close together as possible in a circular shape (like a cake) and poured the icing over them. The picture above is what happened. I figured candles would make the birthday intention clear but I didn’t have any. I had matches, though. So I stuck one lone match in the middle cupcake and waited for my roommate’s return.
Boy was he surprised. Nice person that he is, he didn’t even second glance it. There was no quizzical look. I suppose he’s come to expect this sort of thing from me – the weird food. There was really no way he could predict the pink frosting on carefully placed cupcakes. That would be a scary talent/secret power.
The fun part about sing a match as a candle is there’s really no time between lighting it and blowing it out. You need to have your wits about you (as mentioned above, these I don’t have. Joy the Baker would probably manage to maintain her wits about her). “Did you make a wish?” I asked.
No response. Well, I suppose he didn’t really have any time. Ah well. One year older, one year wiser. Him, not me.
Note: About the title…I don’t think I ever told him I made the frosting pink with beet juice. You can’t taste it and it’s what’s traditionally used in red velvet cakes, not food colouring. Food that has a number in its name, like Red2 or whatever food colouring numbers are are not real food and have no place in my cooking or baking. I hope Joy the Baker would agree.