Baking Wisdom from Mom

Earlier this week I came across this tweet from Duff Goldman:

When baking, always add a little salt, even in ice cream. Not much, you don’t want things salty, you just want balance. Mom taught me that.

It got me thinking, baking and moms just go together. I think a lot us have kitchen memories with our mothers and grandmothers. My mom and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen together and still do. Our annual baking traditions are Christmas cookies and my dad’s birthday dessert.

Some of the best baking tips I learned from my mom (no making fun of the photo, it was the 90s!):

  • Clean as you go! Okay, so we didn’t always follow this rule but it’s so much easier to pause and clean up a bit so you’re not left with a kitchen disaster after a baking marathon.
  • You can substitute oil with applesauce. This was a fairly recent lesson, but it can make some recipes close to guilt-free. I’ve found you use half the oil called for and the other half applesauce.
  • Cooling racks are just another thing to clean. Some may dispute me on this, but I almost never use a cooling rack. Sugar cookies were the only exception during our Christmas baking marathon.
  • Don’t forget to set out your butter so it reaches room temperature! The microwaved butter just doesn’t get the same results.

So if you don’t have plans for Mother’s Day, get to baking! What baking/kitchen lessons did you learn from your mom?

DC Cupcakes

This recipe was sent my way in February, a subtle hint that perhaps that I should give it a go. Well, it took we awhile to try, but I’m pleased with the results and loved trying out my new decorating tools. I have yet to try Georgetown Cupcakes and don’t watch the show, but I’ve heard good things. The ladies behind the show were kind enough to share the recipe on daytime TV. When I was in DC this fall, I just couldn’t stand in a line that wrapped around the block. For now, my version suits me just fine.

Heather’s DC Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder,
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cups whole milk , at room temperature
1/2 cup chocolate of your choice (make it fancy)

Georgetown Cupcake Buttercream Frosting
16 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp. whole milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 cupcake pans with baking cups. I personally enjoyed a little Peanuts with my cupcakes.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
3. Place the unsalted butter in the bowl and add the sugar; beat on medium speed until well mixed.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.
5. Combine the vanilla extract and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.
6. Reduce the speed to low. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add one-third of the milk mixture, beating until well incorporated. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by one-third of the milk mixture. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture, and beat just until combined. Add the chocolate of your choice. I chopped up a Godiva chocolate bar.

7. Scoop batter into baking cups and bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

For the Frosting: Place the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Add the confectioner’s sugar; beat on medium speed until it’s mixed well. This is so much easier when you’re using a stand mixer!

Decorating: I purchased a Wilton decorating kit after feeling inspired from my Cupcake Decorating 101 class. For my first attempt, I stuck with a decorator’s swirl with a star tip. Next time I’ll opt for a larger tip but it was helpful to practice. The most important lesson: make sure you fold down your bag when filling it with frosting. This allows you to reduce your mess so you’re not squeezing the frosting out both ends.

Adapted from the original recipe from an appearance by the ladies of Georgetown Cupcakes.