PechaKucha is “simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds”. (www.pechakucha.org) Crave Cupcakes was fortunate to be asked to take part this year in Calgary with a number of talented and inspiring speakers. The theme was Sweet 16.
Here is our presentation. We took the opportunity to share our memories of being teens in a family of bakers and are sharing our families teachings with you, on how to make and bake the perfect cupcakes and cake at home.
Born into a family of bakers, many lessons were learned in the kitchen. We grew up in High River, one of us loved to bake the other speant a little bit more time outside. This is the lesson our grandmothers and mom attempted to teach one sister and thankfully successfully taught another.
Our tag line is “Just like mom used to make” for us this is true and we use to hear in the stores “my mom did not bake like this” so we developed the Crave Cake Mix. Now you can. LESSON: Always use good ingredients, crack your eggs into a bowl before you add them to your mix, and if an egg shell gets mixed in use the empty egg shell to gently scoop it out. Make sure your eggs are at room temperature.
Start by adding your mix into the bowl, add your eggs, vanilla and oil and mix on low for about 30 seconds. While mixer is on low slowly add your hot water, right off the boil, be careful as it does splash, let this mix for another 30 seconds. Turn your mixer off and give the bowl a good scrape, then turn to medium speed and let mix for a couple minutes. LESSON: Scrape your bowl all the way to the bottom to make sure all the ingredients mix with the hot water.
Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to make uniform cupcakes, use a little spatula to help avoid messy pans. If you have a non-stick pan do not worry about pan spray but you will want to use a pan spray if you do not. This makes sure your cupcake tops do not stick.
Make sure not to overfill your cupcake papers, the batter needs the structure of the sides to rise properly. Overfilling the cupcakes will cause the batter to spill over the edge and can result in flat or mis-shaped cupcakes. Fill cupcake papers 3/4 full of batter.
FOR A CAKE: To prepare your cake pan, use a pan spray, then generously flour the pan, shaking your pan around to coat the sides and the bottom, tap the cake pan over your sink to shake out the excess flour. Place a wax paper cake circle in the bottom of your pan before you pour in your cake batter.
When baking your cupcakes or cake use the middle rack and always put your cupcakes and cake into the oven after it has reached the called for baking temperature. Make sure your pans are not touching the sides and are sitting in the middle of your oven. When adjusting cake recpies for cupcakes and visa versa, it is approximately 15-20 mins less for cake recipes to cupcakes and 15-20 minutes more for cakes from a cupcake recipe.
Check your cupcakes and cake at the stated bake completion time from your recipe or mix directions. Always leave your cupcakes or cake in the oven while you are checking for doneness in case it needs to stay in the oven for a few more minutes. This picture shows a cake that needs quite a bit more time as you can see where the gooieness of the cake batter is quite high on the cake tester. LESSON: When deciding that your cupcakes or cake need more bake time go up by 5 minute or 2 minute increments, as it is easy to over bake your product.
When your cupcakes or cake is done the cake tester will come out clean. Put the tester as close to the middle of the cake as possible. LESSON: When checking for doneness, the middle of the cupcakes and cake will spring back when touched lightly on top. As well you will be able to smell the cupcakes and cake, this is a good indication that baking time is almost done.
Let the cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes in the pan then remove from the pan, it is best to remove them from the pan as they can continue to bake in the pan. Place on a wire rack to cool. Make sure your cupcakes are completely cooled before icing. If you ice cupcakes while they are still warm your icing will melt and not hold its form on top of the cupcake. LESSON: Place the bottom of the cupcake on the back of your hand for to check the coolness.
We have some fun things at our stores to top your cupcakes: Sprinkles, candles, sparklers, and of course BUTTERCREAM ICING. Make sure your icing is the right consistency, if it is too soft it will fall off the cupcakes and if it is too hard it loses is fluffy appearance on your cupcakes. If you have kept your Crave butter cream icing in the fridge bring to room temperature before you use it. You can either place it in a bowl and give a quick mix with a spatula or wooden spoon, or if it is cool, place it in your mixer and beat with a paddle until it softens. Do not overmix your icing at home. The Crave Bakers have already combined the ingredients well, you are simply mixing to ice your cupcakes.
When icing your cupcakes. Score the bottom of your icing bag by lining up the icing tip to the bottom of the bag, then cut and place your icing tip in the bottom of the bag. Cuff the top of the icing bag in the circle of your fingers. Fill your icing bag 3/4 full- too full makes it messy and hard to use, give it a good twist. LESSON: Use an elastic band to secure the top of your bag. Squeeze out excess air by pushing the icing right to the end of the tip. Start in the middle of your cupcake at a 90 degree angle.
Use slow, steady pressure, follow the outside of your cupcake. Be careful not to go to far to the outside of your cupcake as the icing will fall off. At Crave we start in the middle so that you do not have the icing tail on the side of your cupcake.
Work your way back to the middle of your cupcake, when you get to the centre, release the pressure on the piping bag and finish your swirl by lifting the icing bag straight up. It is approximately 3 rotations of the icing bag around the top of your regular sized cupcake.
There are a lot of fun ways to display cupcakes. The cake plate with the “16″ in the middle is a flat iced cupcake. To flat ice a cupcake, use an off set spatula, place a dollop of icing on the top of the cupcake then spread around, put the spatula straight up to go around the sides of the cupcake for a flat neat edge. This is your turn to be creative and have fun, use anything to top your cupcakes. This is our interpretation of a “Sweet 16″ Crave Cupcakes Birthday in your home!
To begin the preparation of icing your cake – let your cake sit in the pan for approximately 20 minutes before removing. Using an off set spatula, run it along the inside of your cake pan to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan, then gently shake the cake out of the pan and place on a wire rack. Make sure your cake is completely cool before you begin to ice your cake. When cutting your cake to prepare it for icing, take the top off the cake so you have a flat top, as a baked cake will come out with a bit of a dome top. This is our favorite part of the cake in the bakeries, use the top of your cake for a cute appie, little bites of cake with tops of buttercream, or a treat for your children that have been waiting patiently – this is the cake version of “licking the spatula”.
This cake is going to be a two layer cake. Cut your layers as evenly as possible, in the Crave Bakeries they bakers will use a ruler to make it as even as possible. Please a thin layer of icing, or thick, if you love your buttercream, between the two cakes then sandwich together. It is fun to use a different colour or a different flavour of icing for the inside layer then your outside layer of buttercream, to add a bit of whimsical fun.
To colour your icing remember you can always add more color but it is hard to take it away, unless you have extra white buttercream icing. Before you ice your cake brush off the excess crumbs with your fingers or a pastry brush. Use an off set spatula to apply the first layer of icing on your cake. Start with placing a dollop of icing in the middle of your cake and work your way to the outside of the cake.
This is a picture of the cake with its “crumb coating” layer of icing. After you have applied your first layer of icing, place your cake in the refrigerator. The reason for this is to seal the crumbs to your cake then the crumbs will not sneak through your second layer of icing and be visible. If you want a really smooth finish to your icing, wipe your off set spatula after each swipe of your icing, with a clean cloth. I used a dinner plate for a turn table and it worked pretty good.
Baking is fun, it is an art and can be as easy or difficult as you make it – this was our interpretation of the Perfect Sweet 16 Crave Birthday Cake that you can make at home!
Happy Baking with Crave at home.