Jan 2009

Cupcakes – Shelly Kaldunski

About: Cupcakes are everyone’s favorite little indulgences. They’re loved by kids and adults alike because they’re playfully sweet as well as utterly charming. These days, cupcakes can be found in bakeries everywhere, but with just a little know-how, you can easily bake your own tempting boutique-bakery cupcakes at home and decorate them with flair.

Cupcakes contains recipes for every palate: Here you’ll find classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream for the traditionalist, Triple Chocolate Cupcakes for the chocaholic, PB&J Cupcakes for the kids, Salted Caramel Cupcakes for the epicurean, as well as seasonal holiday cupcakes, and dozens more. Whether you are a novice or experienced baker, inside these pages you’ll find friendly advice about ingredients and equipment, cupcake-making and baking tips, and a collection of ideas for decorating your cupcakes with either elegant minimalism or grand flourishes. —Simon and Schuster.

My Thoughts: It’s no secret that I love cupcakes, so I was thrilled to receive Cupcakes the book this past Christmas from The Astronomer’s thoughtful parents. The 128-page beauty is divided into seven sections. The introductory chapter, “All About Cupcakes,” explains baking basics and techniques, which is a must-read for novices and experts alike. Next, the book devotes four sections to various genres of cupcakes including “Basic” (vanilla, chocolate, yellow), “Fruit & Nut” (lemon blueberry crunch, sour cherry-almond, banana caramel),  “Chocolate” (Mexican chocolate and red velvet) and “Special Occasion” (tres leches, tiramisu).

The sixth section focuses on “Frostings, Fillings & Finishes” and includes excellent infusion ideas for jazzing up classic frostings like buttercream and cream cheese. Perhaps the most unique section of the book is the final one, “Creative Cupcaking.” It is a two-page, user-friendly diagram that suggests how to mix and match the book’s various recipes for frostings, cakes, fillings and garnishes to create innovative new cupcakes—this section really gets the creative juices flowing.

The first cupcake I made was the red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Everything was going swimmingly up until the point when I realized that the instructions did not inform me when to add the egg. Doh! Luckily, the cupcakes turned out well even though the egg was incorporated into the batter haphazardly. I cannot believe that such an important step was omitted from the instructions! Clearly, each recipe was not as meticulously tested (and edited) as I had expected from a published work. What a shame!

Although I initially loved this book for its fabulous photos and abundance of inspiration, the egg situation left a figurative bad taste in my mouth. I’m not ready to give up on Cupcakes completely, but I will proceed with extreme caution.

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9 thoughts on “Cupcakes – Shelly Kaldunski

  1. Good review. I find that there are mistakes in most books, and I sympathize with authors who try to be perfect but can’t quite make it. For instance, it’s possible that the egg instruction was omitted during the printing and the author doesn’t realize it (ie, she tested the recipe and it was good but in editing a sentence went missing).

    Proceeding with caution is a good idea, though, with any cookbook. And since you found a pretty profound error (!), doubly good in this case. It’s great that the book got your creative juices flowing. Sometimes I think that’s worth the price of the book.

  2. mmm, I love yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream, even from the box. I’m sure these are even better! That’s a little bothersome though that they missed that step in the red velvet recipe, I’m sure that would have messed me up very badly…

  3. I too ran into the problem with the egg when making red velvet cupcakes. Since I bake frequently, I added it in where I normally would. The red velvet cupcakes turned our dry. I thought I’d give the book one more try and last night I attempted the carrot cake cupcakes. Another big disappointment!! The book may be beautiful and well organized, but its recipes (at least the ones I’ve tried) are not good!!

  4. I’ve tried the black forest- AWESOME… Salted caramel- AWESOME… the red velvets were great ONLY without the egg. HA! Isn’t that crazy? With the egg, they’re spongy & rubbery. But without they’re actually pretty decent. And Banana Caramel & Gingerbread ruled, too! So, I’d give it another shot. Looks like they’re kinda hit or miss. Good luck! 🙂 (Pics of the black forest & salted caramel are on my website)

  5. I have tried the Coconut Lime, the Red Velvet and the Lemon Poppy Seed cupcakes. They were all awesome! My favorite was the Coconut Lime.

  6. I would like to try the “mini sticky toffee pudding cupcakes” but, the reciepe calls for more butter than the directions…I’ve got an extra 1/2 cup!! Any ideas?

  7. Beautiful book, that is what caught my eye. Recipes are not up to any standard. I tried several, most recent were Red Velvet cupcakes and German Chocolate, indgredients and directions are lacking. I am afraid to waste my time and money on any more. Very disappointed.

  8. I have decided to cook my way through this cookbook. My first attempt at the butter cream was a disaster. I will try it again before I decide if the blame lies with me or with the recipe. I baked the Rosewater & Raspberry without issue, but the Salted Caramel cupcake sunk so badly in the middle I had to throw them out. I just tried that recipe again, mixing less, using more flour and putting a little less batter in each cup – but they still sunk. Slightly better, but still such a disappointment. The Coconut Lime is only a minute or two from coming out of the oven. I added an extra 1/4 c flour just to be safe. They are proving to have a divit in the middle, but I’m not too worried, since they need to be filled anyway. I really want to enjoy this book, but I’m feeling a little irritated. There is a big chance my issues stem from altitude, since the book is based out of California and I live in Colorado. Why can’t these authors include instructions for high altitude baking?

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