white rose cupcakes with rose butter cream

DSC04691I never did get around to making this cake from Butter and Brioche,  but I adapted the recipe to cupcakes. I recommend halving the cake recipe and only making 1/3 of the rose butter cream recipe. The result is light and sweet, though the rose flavor is not overpowering.

White Rose Cupcakes with Rose Butter Cream

Servings: Makes about 24 cupcakes

Ingredients
Cupcakes
• 125g / 4 1/2 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
• 250g / 9 oz. caster sugar
• 1 whole egg and 3 egg whites (90ml), lightly beaten at room temperature
• 225g / 8 oz. all purpose flour
• 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 180 ml / 6 fl. oz. whole milk, at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon rose flavoring
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Butter cream (measurements for 1/3 recipe in parens. at the end)
• 186g / 6.5 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 300g / .6 lb. icing sugar
• 75 ml / 2.5 fl. oz. heavy cream
• 1 1/2 teaspoons rose flavoring
• Pink food coloring (just a pinch)
• Crystallized roses for decoration, optional

Instructions
1. Pre-heat the oven to 170˚C / 325˚F. Line 2  cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light, pale and fluffy, roughly 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, until well incorporated.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Add half of the milk and the rose and vanilla extracts, continuing to beat, and then add half the remaining flour and milk. End with the remainder of the flour. Beating until just incorporated.
3. Scoop a spoonful of batter into each cupcake liner. Do not over fill. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top of one cupcake is firm to the touch and all tops are lightly browned. Allow the cupcakes to cool in their tins 10 minutes. Once cooled, frost with rose butter cream.
4. While the cakes are cooling, make the rose butter cream. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter until pale and creamy, roughly 4 to 5 minutes. Add the icing sugar and cream and continue to beat until smooth. Add the rose extract to taste.
5. Add just a pinch of pink food coloring to the frosting. Stir a few times or just until the frosting is streaked pink and white. Using a small spatula, frost the tops of the cupcakes.

no-alcohol fresh grape cake with demerara sugar

I changed up so many things in this recipe from The Kitchn that it’s half mine and half Sheri Castle’s, the writer-blogger of The Kitchn. I made it without alcohol, that’s one, I used extracts instead of citrus zest, and I used demerara sugar as a topping. I also switched up some things in the method; for example, coating the grapes in flour before adding them to the batter. I had read somewhere that this prevents the fruit from sinking to the bottom. They all did anyway.

DSC04670Because I used a 7-inch springform pan, I baked this cake in a slow oven for an hour instead of 40 minutes. Sheri Castle doesn’t recommend using a pan with a dark finish because dark pans tend to burn cakes. But you can. If you reduce the heat 25˚F and test for doneness 5-10 minutes before the recipe says it should finish, the cake should turn out all right. I find this cake sweet but not cloyingly sweet. The grapes add a firm juicy texture when you bite into one.

No-Alcohol Fresh Grape Cake with Demerara Sugar (adapted from The Kitchn)

Serves 8

187g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
169g (3/4 cup) superfine or caster sugar
113g (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided (85g + 28g)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
236ml (1 cup) apple juice
1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes
2 tablespoons demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Brush the inside of a 10-inch light-colored metal springform pan with olive oil. (If using a dark metal pan, reduce the heat to 375˚.) Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and then brush the parchment with olive oil.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.

Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar, 6 tablespoons of the butter, and the oil in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Quickly beat in the extracts.

Beginning and ending with the flour, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with half of the juice, beating only until the batter is smooth after each addition. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour on the grapes so they won’t all sink to the bottom during baking. Then sprinkle the grapes over the top of the batter. (The grapes will sink as the cake bakes.)

Bake until the top is just set, about 20 minutes. Dot the top of the cake with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Continue baking until the top of the cake is golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes more.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing the pan rim. Serve the cake slightly warm or at room temperature.

Variation:

Instead of apple juice, substitute a dessert wine (original recipe). Or substitute 1/2 cup white wine+1/2 cup water+1/3 cup sugar

fresh grape pie: a labor of love or never again

I love it when  big shopping malls put on a farmer’s market–you never have to break a sweat in Bangkok’s heat and you can shop for fresh food just as if you were at the “real”  market. There were all these grapes on sale for cheap so we bought red seedless grapes and these clusters of tiny blue-black grapes. I wanted to make a fresh grape cake and a grape pie. But before I get to the cake, let me mull over the grape pie a bit. It took Andy and me two days to peel a kilogram of these tiny grapes. I’m glad it wasn’t more. So this is the first and the last time I will ever bake a fresh grape pie. So let us savor this moment.

DSC04673Before it went in the oven, I had a to make a double pie crust. I used America’s Test Kitchen’s Foolproof Double Pie Crust recipe, and foolproof it isn’t to this fool. So I decided to abandon the recipe and used my own judgment. Because the dough was too wet to roll out, I added another cupful of all-purpose flour. Then it was too dry, so I added the 1/4 cup chilled vodka but skipped the 1/4 cup water. The dough was so slick it wouldn’t absorb the vodka so I had to help it out by kneading in a cup of bread flour. In for a penny, in for a pound, I suppose. I divided the dough in half and rolled one half out between two sheets of parchment paper with a little flour on the bottom sheet. I tried lining a 9-inch pie pan with half the dough.  The filling wasn’t enough to fill the pan. So I tried again–this time using an 8-inch tart pan. Just for fun, I covered the top with stars. There was just too much liquid in the filling so I tried spooning out the excess. Still, I knew there would be boil-over so I put the tart pan on a baking tray and put the whole contraption in the oven.

DSC04676Forty minutes later, I got the result. It looked all right; lightly browned, and the grape filling had boiled over the sides as I expected. Two of the stars got stained by the grape juice but apart from the looks, the pie seemed to be okay. The crust looked edible but I didn’t know if it would be flaky after adding the additional flour.

Andy and I decided we had to have this a la mode, so he went out to the “corner store”–really the 7-Eleven two blocks away– and got some Bud’s vanilla ice cream. I cut into the pie and held my breath. Each slice released from the pan without sticking, and the crust was flaky as ATK had promised. But would it have true grape flavor?

DSC04680It did. The fruit was tart, because I only added 3/4 cup of sugar, so this played nicely with the sweet coldness of the vanilla ice cream. We savored every mouthful–not only because it was delicious but because we both knew I would never make this pie again. Too labor intensive for this foodie. The truth is I had never tasted a grape pie before so I didn’t know what it was supposed to look like or taste like. The recipes I consulted, before deciding on the Allrecipes grape pie recipe, never explained why it was crucial to peel each grape, save the peels and mash the pulp then put the two back together again. If I ever made this pie again, and I won’t, I wonder what would happen if I didn’t peel the grapes? What if I did peel the grapes but didn’t process and strain the pulp? These are not burning questions, folks.

DSC04677
Grape Pie a la Mode with Green Tea