The up-end of my cupcake entry: a Lemon Loaf!
So I tried to create a cupcake recipe for The Competition. Much as I detest competitions and dislike cupcakes as a culinary concept, I agreed to enter a recipe as I was … let’s say … ‘nudged’ by a fellow blogger who shall remain nameless for now: “Yes, we know that cupcakes are yesterday but the masses still love it. So go retro, go for it.” The tone was not matter-of-fact, no. It was in-my-face-daring and I fell for it. Silly me …
First, let me explain my issue with cupcakes. They are baked to amuse and please juveniles (especially at their parties) but not the tiniest thought seems to be given to what goes into the poor child’s body. Every time I see a mother offering her child a cupcake, a chip-monk mother’s falsetto voice screams in my head: “I love you so much! Here is a cup of sugar and look how cute, it’s a cupcake! Enjoy mommy’s love, darling!” Ouch.
And then I have this other thing about cupcakes: to my mind they are far too forgiving in the baking stakes. You can take any old flop or concoction, call it a cupcake and by the time you’d gone completely OTT with the sugar and margarine or butter frosting and all the décor you can get in a Mr Price décor store, the wretched little cupcake is magically transformed and upgraded to fairy cake or angel cake. My personal take on the décor issue has always been that it’s a case of much ado about nothing ‘cause dears (wink-wink nudge-nudge), had it not been for the toppings, the bottoms would never have had the appeal they had. Only my opinion … but excuse me for a minute …. I have to duck at all the Cupcake Queens now furiously pelting me with their latest offerings … But keep reading dears, my big mouth did get to me in the end of this saga … the cupcakes got their revenge on me! So, let me get on with the story.
A whole week went by with me spending every spare moment (as if I have many or any for that matter!) surfing the internet looking for a cupcake recipe that I could just “make my own”. That means “lifting” somebody else’s recipe that was probably already “lifted” and then adding, removing or changing a few ingredients, re-writing the methodology in my own words and there, a brand new recipe is born that I can call my own! So I looked and looked and looked but found basically four variations. That won’t do, I decided. It’s too been-there-done-that for my little ego…
Long story short: like a mad, obsessed woman I wasted the most valuable time I have on looking for cupcake ideas that are different and simple yet stunning. Above all, I was determined to enter a cupcake for adults who have a taste for finer things in life other than a mile high tower of sugar and marg and food colouring or baking chocolate and glitter balls and toffee apples and the entire merchandise of the cookie decoration aisle and if I was not careful, the entire biscuit rack and sweetie rack stuck on top of the frosting as well!
Sigh. Nowhere on the wide, wide worldly web could I find a cupcake of simple, classic beauty. Found gazillions of those described above, but no beatiful, plain classic cupcake. Many plain ones, yes. Many classic ones yet. But not many that are unique and certainly nothing much without a flamboyant topping. Incredibly, most cupcake recipes/images gave the towering toppings most of the attention and the poor bottom-cake part had to take a back seat.
In the middle of this frenetic obsession, I toyed with the thought that possibly, as men love to own cars with long bonnets or throbbing engines as extensions and enhancements to their phallic pride, so women bake and decorate cupcakes to symbolise and celebrate the nether regions and the outward beauty of themselves…?? Naw…?! Could it be? Naw, I decided to write that notion off as the delirious hallucination of an elderly-but- still-wanna-be-intellectual-blogger … but, my dears? It does seem that male cooks and chefs and bloggers don’t do cupcakes like we women!? I don’t know what it’s telling us but it’s telling us something about ourselves …
Anyway. At last I got sort-of close to what I could use and re-write to ‘make my own’: a recipe for Revani – a Greek semolina cake with orange syrup. But I disliked the idea of all the sugar in the cake and then the extra sugar in the syrup and I wanted to use lemon as ‘tart’ is so grown up.
So I set about to change the recipe. I ‘lifted’ more ideas from other recipes and shaved, changed and modified until to me, it looked like I had a sexy, moist, adult cupcake without a towering topping needed or the gooey syrup.
And then finally, Sunday afternoon while the entire South Africa was watching Idols SA, I strapped on an apron and said one hell of a long and serious mantra to ease my anguish at allowing my ego’s greed and competitiveness to actually get me to enter a competition. And a bloody cupcake competition of all things! For a book voucher of all things when I have just given thousands of books away to hospice, libraries and schools because I am downsizing! Well, the ego has no reason and to tell you the most shameful truth, I even had a name for my competition cupcake entry: Moist & Sexy Lemolinas. What a corny name … oy, what the ego will do for fame …!
And so, over to action I went to create the world’s 1st prize cupcakes. Or so I thought. After lovingly having measured and weighed and mixed and whipped and folded my mixture, I spooned my gorgeous pale-lemon batter into the muffin pan. Oops, I have so much batter left?! What went wrong? Placing the pan in the oven I charged to my PC and studied the recipe. Oh, ok. I have too much of each ingredient, I’ll halve it on the recipe I plan to enter. By the time I’d halved the quantities (quite a job as it’s not just a simple maths task; it takes a little thought because measuring vessels can be an issue for bakers), the first batch of cupcakes was baked. Like a greedy guts, I lifted one out and took a hot and steamy bite. Oh no! The semolina inside is still hard. Oops, baking time too short, but cupcakes are cooked beautifully? The syrup? Obviously that’s the reason for the syrup! What now? Too deflated and emotionally worn out to think any further, I sprayed a loaf pan with non-stick spray and tipped the remaining batter (a huge quantity) into the pan. Into the oven. Forty five minutes later. Knife goes in. Not ready. Another 10, 15 minutes. It’s ready. Leave to cool a bit in pan. Tip out. Pretty. Cut a slice. Divine. No hard semolina, obviously needed longer baking. Moist. Sexy. Not too sweet. No fly-me-to-the-moon-topping required. A new cake is borne!
But not a cupcake …
And so it came about that I smartly disqualified myself from entering the most talked-about cupcake competition in blogland by creating a full-on cake-loaf-thingie.
I have not made it again so if you bake it soon and want to alter anything that you think may improve it, please feel free! But do let me know so that I can change the recipe and give you full credit as our first Contributor! Yes, hopefully one of these days you will be able to load your own recipes onto our website! How cool is that!?
The cake keeps well – I served it yesterday for the production team during a long meeting to rave reviews. As it is school holidays, Michele my daughter had to bring her kids (jay!) and even they raved. But then, mind you, they grow up in a house where sugar is not a sign of love, so anything with additional sugar is delicious for them! J
So here is the recipe for my flop cupcakes but a divine lemon loaf (or ring – as I know it will also bake well in a ring mould pan). Enjoy!
For the recipe, click here:
Clearly I have a dysfunctional relationship with cupcakes but that does not mean to say I cannot appreciate effort and somebody else’s passion for something I may not feel the same about. So, good luck to y’all with the cupcake competition. May the highest top with the most colour and best decor items win! When there is something other (LOL!) than cupcakes to create (like preserves, jams, pickles and/or pies … all very now foods), then I may, just may think of entering. All in good spirit though and for the ‘laugh’ of blogging and it’s all-sorts of tastes and opinions.