Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bad Luck Streak in Baking School

As you may have noticed from my not-so-subtle whining in the past few posts, this has been a bad week all around for me, but most especially when it comes to baking. The vampire cupcakes I tried to decorate on Sunday looked more like demented and deformed ghosts had died (again) on top of my cupcakes. FAIL. The chili chocolate cupcakes I made for my book club were overfilled and baked over the tops of the pan in an unsightly manner. FAIL. And then there are the peach cupcakes I made last night as a last ditch effort to come up with a quality entry for Sweetest Kitchen's white chocolate Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge. I'm going to make the bold claim that this sort of thing would not have happened were I not sick. If I'd had more energy or a fully functioning brain I'd like to think that I would have noticed that the recipe I was preparing was an icky vegan one. You know, before I was halfway through putting the ingredients together.

Not that I have anything against the vegans out there, but I can't personally adopt a lifestyle that limits my food choices. I love food too much to give up anything, even though I do aim for a healthy, balanced diet and have been known to deny myself dessert if I'm feeling a little pudgy. I may rarely eat pasta because it's so high in calories and carbs but that doesn't mean I don't allow myself to order it if I'm at a restaurant that features great pasta dishes. I don't want to miss out on, say, devouring the most amazing rack of lamb at Fandango just because I can picture the critter it once was bleating in the field. By that same token, I don't want to miss out on the rich taste and texture that things like butter and eggs bring to baked goods. To me there's no substitute.

Aww, aren't you cute? Now get in my belly!

When I spotted Restless Chipotle's 50 Best Cupcake Recipes on the Internet I was overwhelmed by the number of delicious-looking recipes I need to add to my baking repertoire. I'd already been mulling over the idea of a peach cupcake for the white chocolate challenge so I was happy to see one on the list that was a little different than the peach cupcakes I'd made before. Since I wanted to add chopped peaches as a filling after baking I liked the idea of having the peaches in the batter pureed and blended in. While I did skim through the blog post to ensure she was actually recommending the recipe, I printed the recipe out without reading it (again, totally uncharacteristic for me). Once I got home I decided to use what little energy I had left to make cupcakes instead of dinner. It wasn't until I was nearing the last steps that I stopped and asked myself, "When do I add the eggs?" And then realized that eggs were not listed as an ingredient and that, suspiciously, the recipe called for water instead of the usual milk and vegetable oil instead of butter. It suddenly dawned on me that I was using a vegan recipe, which was a crushing disappointment for me because I knew I only had the energy to make that one batch so there would be no redos. Hoping that despite my fears the cupcakes would still turn out to be tasty and nearly indistinguishable from the "real" thing, I popped them in the oven and watched as they rose oddly. Mountainous peaks in the center of each one instead of the lovely, even dome I usually aim for. On top of that, I had my husband taste one before frosting and not only could he not detect the peach flavor, but he also found the texture to be off. More like a muffin than a cupcake and not even quite as good as that. They went straight into the freezer without being frosted until I can think of a better use for them, but if I run out of space in the freezer they will be the first to go in the bin.

Yes, 90% of this is my fault for not reading the recipe through before starting in on it. However, I can't help but be a little annoyed that the blogger who posted the recipe didn't think to mention it anywhere in her post and that the 50 Best Cupcake list didn't either. In fact, reading the original blogger's profile info reveals that she's a vegetarian, not vegan, so there were no hints that I needed to be on the lookout for funky vegan recipes.

Here's hoping that my and my oven's luck improves next week. And here's hoping that I ditch this crabby persona and go back to being my usual sweet and wonderful self once this ailment passes. One can dream...