Saturday, September 02, 2006

lady baltimore cupcakes

adapted from a Lady Baltimore Cake recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham, aka. the holy grail of cookbooks

Lady Baltimore cupcakes, you say? That’s right. I had never actually made a Lady Baltimore cake before, much less cupcakes, so all I could do was follow the recipe and see what happened (but with Fannie Farmer/Marion Cunningham as my guide, I wasn’t too worried). Last night I felt like a little kid who can’t sleep on Christmas Eve, I was so excited about baking these this morning, just to see how they would turn out. The actual cupcake-baking was pretty straightforward, ignoring my crazy attempt to make mini cupcake cups. I had some problems with the consistency of the frosting, so I ended up spending about 10 minutes with my mixer on medium after I took it off the double boiler; other than that, it was fine. The biggest problem was cutting the cupcakes to fill them. The knife kept picking up cake debris because the cupcakes were very moist, and not really meant to be filled. My ingenious conclusion: you need to dip your paring knife in a small cup of flour, and it won’t stick or tear the cake. And those were my only problems (besides my spending four hours on this project, and having my mom yell at me to hurry up so I could write my Cornell essay...). Anyway, I’m really proud of how amazingly these cupcakes turned out. The cakes were perfect, light and fluffy with a slight hint of vanilla, and were perfectly matched with the almond-y date, pecan, and raisin filling and vanilla frosting. They took a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it.

Lady Baltimore Cupcakes (makes 24 regular cupcakes/18 regular and 15 mini)
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup whole milk
3 egg whites (about 1/2 cup)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line cupcake pan with fluted paper baking cups. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and sift them together into a bowl; set aside.

Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, and beat until smooth and well blended. Stir the vanilla and milk together and add to the butter-sugar mixture in two additions, alternating with the flour mixture, and beating until the batter is well blended and smooth after each addition.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff but moist. Gently stir one-third of the beaten whites into the batter, then scoop up the remaining whites and drop them into the batter, then fold them in.

Spoon batter into pans, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the middle clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning cupcakes out on a rack.
Seven-Minute Frosting (half for frosting, half for filling)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
Mix sugar, cream of tartar, salt, egg whites, and water in a pot or bowl over simmering water. Beat steadily over low heat with a rotary or electric hand beater until the frosting stands in (very soft) peaks, about 5-7 minutes, no more.

Remove from the heat and continue to beat until thick enough to spread (this could take a while). Add the vanilla. Divide frosting in half to make the filling.

Lady Baltimore Filling
1/2 recipe Seven-Minute Frosting
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup dried dates, in bits
2/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Fold the pecans, dates, raisins, and almond extract into the frosting. Mix well.

To fill cupcakes, use a small paring knife, lightly floured, and cut the inside of the top out to make a cone. Remove the cone, fill the cupcake with about 1/2 teaspoon filling, and cut off the bottom cone part of the top, leaving only a slice to cover the filling.

To finish, frost with the remaining plain frosting.


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