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last week one of my favorite foodie (cupcake) bloggers posted about a need for “cupcake explorers.” she’s on a quest to discover the ultimate vanilla cupcake recipe and my interest was immediately sparked.

Over the years, many of you have asked me for the ultimate vanilla cupcake recipe.  Each time – although you couldn’t see it – my face turned the color of the logo below and my heart sunk as I responded, “I don’t have one.”  I’ve been so busy developing unique, funky, off-the-wall cupcake recipes that I never took the time to work on a vanilla cupcake recipe.  I felt like a gymnast who could do a double flip, but had somehow missed learning how to do a cartwheel.  That is changing now!”

As those of you who have been following along on the Cupcake Project Facebook page already know, I recently began a quest for the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake recipe.  I’ve researched, baked, and baked, and baked, and in the end created what I believe to be the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake recipe.

I refuse to call my recipe the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake until it’s been baked by a 50 baker team of testers (Explorers).  If more than 80% of the Explorers agree that it’s the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake recipe, I will declare it as such (there’s no recipe that everyone can agree on).  If the Explorers don’t love it, I’ll take their comments into consideration, go back to the cupcake tin, and try again.

cupcake project

so after weeding through almost 700 “explorer” submissions, 50 were chosen…and what do you know, lazybird was among those picked!

i’m super pumped to be a part of this group. i have certainly learned…there are just not enough baking hours in the day. with all the books and blogs and shows…there are just too many different recipes floating around…and when you want to find the best, all the resources make it an overwhelming task. that’s why i love this idea….i loved it even if i wasn’t chosen, cause i knew how much work was going into this task. all the baking on stef’s end…and then all the baking done by her explorers would surely be sufficient in claiming the ultimate vanilla cupcake title. BUT being chosen as an explorer is even more exciting…cause anyone who knows me, knows i love a good adventure.

so this week i’ll be baking and having my true blue taste testers put in there two cents….and then i report back. i’m excited to see what comes of this and SO excited to be a part of it.

-L

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they say it’s your birthday, na na na na na na na na!

one year ago: lazy bird birthday!, lazy bird beginnings…

guess who’s a year old?!?! happy birthday lazy bird!

B and I have discovered we’re not compatible in quite a few areas….we don’t like the same scents, we are opposites when it comes to picking nail polish for pedicures and even when it comes to desserts…for instance, coconut and/or pecans will ruin a desert for me while B just can’t get enough! however, in planning this post we were very excited to figure out that we strongly agree on one thing…we’re…dum dum dum…cake compatible! we are both white cake & white frosting girls….or as I like to call it, “wedding cake” girls! and really…what other treat would you make for a birthday party?!

this recipe is super simple and wouldn’t have taken much time at all IF, DFW hadn’t been in the middle of some crazy weather…and we didn’t have to take multiple breaks to park it in front of the weather channel…or even under some cushions in the bathroom. we still finished all our baking much earlier than we usually do….so i’m thinking you could whip these little buddies up fairly quickly as well. and let me take a moment to give a shout out to B’s own “weather man steve” who gave us a running commentary on the storm radar, as we dared to bake in the kitchen. safety first folks.

ingredients:
(yields 2 dozen regular + 2 dozen mini cupcakes)
cake: (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
5 large egg whites, room temperature

frosting:
disclaimer, this is scary…but delicious
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup crisco
4 cups powdered sugar
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup marshmallow cream

preheat your oven to 350º. line your cupcake pan with wrappers.

in a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. set aside

measure out milk in another small bowl and stir in vanilla. set aside.

in your stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat your butter on a medium high speed till pale and fluffy. add in sugar and continue beating till mixed well.

reduce speed to low and add in 1/3 of your flour mixture. scrape down edges and add in half of your milk mixture. repeat this (flour, milk, flour) till all is mixed in, ending with the flour, and scraping down the sides in between. your batter should look nice and fluffy.

in a seperate medium sized bowl, whisk your egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

with a rubber spatula, fold your egg whites into your cake batter.

spoon your batter out into your cupcake pans, filling only 3/4ths full.

bake for 16 minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test – inserting in the middle of a cake and coming out clean.

remove from oven remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes, then remove your cakes from the pan and set on a cooling rack. doing so prevents moisture from collecting at the bottom of the pan and cake.

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while your cupcakes are cooling go ahead and get your frosting going.

on medium high speed, cream together butter and crisco, till fluffy.

reduce speed to low and slowly add in powdered sugar, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

mix in vanilla and marshmallow cream. again, pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl. continue mix everything together at a high speed till your mixture resembles whipped cream.

transfer to a piping bag and top your cakes off with a large dollop of frosting…and of course, add confetti and a candle and make a wish :)

the cakes were a big hit. we both agreed that the cakes were better served chilled….maybe it was the frosting that we preferred cold….but who’s to know?! enjoy!

one birthday down, one to go….

-L&B

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“if you eat it in the dark, no one can see it” said my husband after I showed him why we at lazybird bakery do not, and i repeat, do not and will not decorate cakes. it’s too risky. i have FABULOUS ideas in my head that quickly snowball into horrendous displays of creativity. haha. but wow, that cake tastes good, and if you ask me that’s what’s important! remember this, don’t judge a book by its cover.

we’ve been writing this blog for some time now and we’ve yet to run out of ideas which is great, but sometimes we need a little push. so i called my little brother this week and asked him what i should make and the first thing that came out of his mouth was carrot cake. done. perfect. i love carrot cake and pretty much anything with a little spice to it. then throw some cream cheese icing on top, shut the front door. you’re going to need a nap after this one. it’s amazing. thanks Martha Stewart. Read more at Marthastewart.com: Carrot Cake – Martha Stewart Recipes

ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1 pound grated carrots (8 to 10 medium carrots)
2 cups pecans (1 cup finely chopped for batter, 1 cup coarsely chopped for decorating sides of cake) optional.

equipment

stand mixer
mixing bowls/prep bowls
veggie peeler
crisco shortening
3 – 9″ cake pans
parchment paper

preheat oven to 350 degrees.

carrot cake

first things first. i went ahead and grated my carrots because it took forever. i haven’t peeled and grated in so long. i forgot just how time-consuming a task it was. so once i grated them, i covered with plastic wrap and placed back in the fridge while i got everything else together.

before using crisco to coat pans, go ahead and trace three circles the size of your pans, onto parchment paper. cut out and set aside. now coat your pans, place the parchment paper down into the bottom of the pan, and cover the paper with more crisco. lightly dust with flour, making sure to flour the edges of your pans. this will ensure that your cake doesn’t stick to the pans once baked!

in a large bowl go ahead and add your flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. whisk together, making sure all ingredients are well mixed. in your stand mixer bowl, mix your sugars and your butter and whip until creamy. once creamy add eggs one at a time, mixing continuously, followed by vanilla, water and carrots. reduce the speed then add the flour mixture. if adding pecans go ahead and add them now.

using a spatula scrape out dough evenly into the three 9″ pans. bake pans for 15 minutes. turn pans half way around and bake for 10 more minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. once ready pull from oven and set pans on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. scrape edges with a knife to help loosen the cake. flip over onto wire racks and let cool completely.

while that’s cooling or even baking, go ahead and start your cream cheese icing. read more at Marthastewart.com: Cream Cheese Frosting – Martha Stewart Recipes

ingredients

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 lbs. of powdered sugar

cream cheese icing

first things first. in your mixer blend cream cheese and vanilla extract. once creamy cut the butter into T size slices and one by one, add to the cream cheese while the mixer is going. lower your speed and add the powdered sugar. your icing should be fluffy and smooth. this icing will keep in an airtight container for two days. bring to room temp. and mix well before icing your cake.

now that your icing is ready, set aside and clear off a space so that you can start assembling your cake. there are lots of ways to do this, but here is what i did. I took my first layer and laid it bottom side up. this way i have a flat surface to ice. apply icing. lay second layer same way, apply icing. for the third layer and lay correct side up, so that it is dome shaped. ice. here is where i should have stopped. cakes look great when their layers are exposed. but due to a lapse in judgement i just kept going, as did Martha, if you check her icing recipe. her cake is beautiful and she decided to use the remaining pecans as decoration to the sides. it’s elegant. but if you’re going for a circus big top look, such as myself, GO CRAZY. the sky’s the limit!

please enjoy.

-b

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“ice cream stroke”

we were blessed with some wonderful interns at work recently. unfortunately two of their internships ended this past friday, and we just had to celebrate them and their hard work with this week’s lazybird treat. so, when i asked them to give me a list of their favorites here is what they said;

bisciuts

cinnamon rolls

anything with nutella, peanut butter, or cheese in it

croissants

funfetti

the obvious choice to me was funfetti. i LOVE funfetti and always have. typically at lazybird bakery we make things from scratch or at least some part of the recipe from scratch. this time i decided since funfetti already existed, we would give you a recipe on how to assemble something rather share a recipe.

so, i thought i was a genius until i googled my idea and was quickly slapped in the face when i found out that people have been baking cupcakes in ice cream cones for a while now. :( oh well, at least this way there were already plenty of testimonials. so here’s how to create ice cream cone cup cakes.

box of ice cream cones

cake mix

funfetti frosting (comes with the cutest sprinkles)

mini muffin pan

something to pipe frosting with (bag or cookie press with tip)

preheat oven as directed on box.

mix cake as directed on back of box. poor mix into cones a little past where the cone widens at the top, just a hair. if you over fill you will make quite the mess in your oven. place cones filled with batter into mini muffin pan. carefully place pan in oven on middle rack and bake as if you were making cupcakes. once baked, carefull take out of oven and let cool. your cake should rise just about the cone.

once completely cooled, fill piping bag with desired frosting and decorate to look like soft served ice cream top with sprinkles and ta da! cupcakes that look like ice cream cones! please enjoy and have lots of fun!

-b

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“they look like dairy queen”

oh, if one of us birds knows about dairy queen…it would be me. the DQ was my very first job. i learned how to dip cones, fearlessly, years ago. the tricks are: don’t hesitate, don’t hold the cone at an angle and move smoothly and quickly. who knew these courageous skills would come in so handy later in life. (don’t worry julie and al…i steered clear of the trademark curl…even though it wants to come so naturally)

i saw these buddies months ago on bakerella and also on martha stewart….their beauty sold me…and their meringue stopped me. however, this years christmas brought me a new cupcake cookbook and low and behold….the top hat cupcakes were there….begging me to show them some attention. alright, alright….lets give it a go….

adapted from cupcakes, cupcakes, and more cupcakes

cupcakes:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste*
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

meringue:
8 egg whites
2 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

chocolate coating:
2 cups dark chocolate
3 tablespoons canola oil

*i only discovered vanilla bean paste a few weeks ago and have been dying to experiment with it. if you aren’t as excited to have it in your pantry as i was….it can be substituted with same amount of vanilla extract, no worries.

the only reason for this picture…is that i got cute little prep bowls for christmas…i wanted to use them….and i wanted you to be excited with me. pretty, huh?!

preheat your oven to 325. line your cupcake pan with wrappers. this recipe claimed to make 12 cakes, but for me it made that plus 24 mini cupcakes….so…maybe I was lucky…or maybe you should plan for extras as well.

in a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

in your stand mixer on medium speed, mix together butter, vanilla and sugar till light and fluffy. reduce speed and add in eggs one at a time.

gradually mix in sifted dry ingredients and buttermilk till all ingredients are well blended.

pour batter into cupcake liners to 3/4 full.

bake for 20-25 minutes or till cakes pass the toothpick test. cool on wire rack.

for the meringue – place a glass bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water. whisk together egg whites, sugar and cream of tarter for 5 minutes till mixture is well blended and hot. remove from heat and mix in vanilla. using an electric mixer, beat at a high speed for about 12 minutes till meringue forms stiff peaks.

transfer to pastry bag with a round tip. pipe meringue out in a circular motion….up and up and up till you have a pretty little “hat” of meringue on top of your cakes. transfer to freezer for 30 minutes.

while your cakes are in the freezer prepare your chocolate. again, in a glass bowl over simmering water, melt your chocolate and oil. whisk together till smooth and glossy. remove from heat and let cool.

are you ready for the dipping? are you scared?! oh, don’t be… time to be bold…you can do it!

i used one of those oversized coffee mugs for the dipping chocolate… so that it was deep enough for those top hats and wide enough for my fingers/hands.

without fear, flip over and dip your cupcake into the chocolate. lift him up….hold him there till he stops dripping….flip him back over set him down….pick up another and repeat! you did it! everything stayed in place!

keep you cupcakes chilled until ready to serve….and when you do….your guests will surely say, “ooOOoo pretty!”

i know you want to see the inside, don’t you.

everything you hoped for?! me too. enjoy!

wishing you a happy new year and many blessings to come!

-L

 

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listen…i put my adventure pants on and went a little wild. the results may not have been anything to brag about….but adventure means: unusual and exciting (and typically hazardous) and well…it was easily all of those things.

as mentioned before, i am currently inspired by scharffen berger’s chocolate adventure contest. the contest entails a list of “adventure” (some might say “crazy”) ingredients. the goal is to incorporate one or more of these ingredients into a cupcake….and of course come up with something fantastic! i picked two ingredients….one i knew i could work with: chili powder…and one i had never tried before: saffron.

chocolate and chili…that’s a given. (and the more successful of the two)

chocolate chili cupcakes
adapted from scharffen berger’s chocolate cupcakes. makes 12

cupcakes:

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon chili powder

frosting:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt

begin with your frosting as you’ll need to give it a few hours to cool and turn into its yummy goodness.

in a heat safe bowl combine chopped chocolate and butter, cut into small pieces. set aside.

in a small saucepan bring cream, sugar and salt to a simmer over medium heat. allow mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. remove from heat and combine with chocolate and butter. whisk together until smooth and glossy. let this mixture cool for 2-3 hours.

now for your cupcakes….

in a small sauce pan bring water and chili powder to a simmer over medium heat. remove from heat and stir in vanilla. (i’m making this the first step…because the next two don’t take much time. if you work at a normal speed your chili water should still be hot once all your dry and wet ingredients are mixed up…..if not…adapt this step for your own timing)

in your stand mixer combine your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt). mix together at a low speed till ingredients are mixed thoroughly.

add butter (melted) and egg. mix on medium speed for about a minute.

slowly pour in half of water/chili powder mixture and mix till well blended. pour in remaining water/chili powder and mix till blended, about half a minute.

pour batter into (lined) cupcake pan. these bake for 20(ish) minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test. let cool in pan on top of a wire rack.

I would recommend these little guys. the cupcake recipe, minus the chili powder, is so so tasty…especially if you get to enjoy them warm. with the chili powder, they add just the right amount of kick. the chili is subtle enough to not overpower the cake, but adds greatly to the flavor and aroma of the chocolate. (as I write this I’m imagining my dear friend rachel will be running to her cupboards to search for all the ingredients…she’s such a sucker for anything spicy…usually carrying around a bottle of red pepper flakes in her purse…i think you will love this one rach.)

saffron…on to the not so successful…(in my opinion)

i have never baked/cooked with saffron before. i’m sure i have eaten plenty of it, mixed into some rice or whatnot…but i couldn’t tell you what it looked like, smelled like or tasted like before this adventure.

saffron is…
found with your spices
expensive
comes in the form of small red threads or powder
is known for the bright yellow color it turns the food/liquid you mix it with
has a “hay-like” smell/taste
not one of my favorite things….

that being said….i’m not scared to try new things, and while i’ve discovered i don’t love saffron as a stand alone flavor…maybe you do…and maybe this is just what you were looking for.

saffron cupcakes
adapted from the cupcake project. makes 12 cupcakes.

ingredients:
1 1/3 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1/2 cup water

the night before melt a stick of butter and stir in two pinches of saffron threads. the butter will turn a vibrant yellow color (due to the saffron). cover and let sit overnight. stir mixture in the morning as it will separate a bit. you will use this mixture in your frosting.

preheat your oven to 350. line cupcake pan with wrappers.

in your stand mixer combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and baking soda. mix on low speed with whisk attachment till all dry ingredients are combined.

in a small saucepan whisk together saffron threads and 2 tablespoons of milk over low heat. bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and let cool.

in another small bowl, whisk together egg, 2/3 cup milk and vanilla. combine with cooled saffron/milk mixture.

move back over to your stand mixer and slowly pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients at a slow speed. mix till all ingredients are blended, being careful not to over mix.

pour batter into (lined) cupcake pan and bake for 20(ish) minutes or until they pass the toothpick test. let cool in pan on top of a wire rack.

saffron frosting
1 cup (plus a little extra) confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup saffron infused butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

with a hand mixer or stand mixer (whisk attachment) mix all ingredients together until blended. add sugar, if needed, for a thicker consistency.

frost cakes and enjoy….or not?! i’m really not gonna promise you anything on this one.

i wasn’t a fan….others called them “interesting”…others said the enjoyed them….they were “different, but good!” one co-worker loooved the frosting and said she wanted to bathe in it….but she felt like the cupcakes had too much saffron….and maybe they did. i fear i am just not a saffron expert….i’m probably never going to be one…and that’s ok.

the good news is….the saffron intimidated me the most of all the “adventure” ingredients….and now i can move on knowing I gave it a shot.

more to come…

-L

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i’ve been inspired by the Chocolate Adventure Contest


so i’m working on my cupcakes….learning new tricks & tips and trying out new ingredients. these little buddies will be the base of some experimenting.  more to come!

-L

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