Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mrs. Kostyra's Spice Cupcakes

Are you wondering who Mrs. Kostyra is? Me too. Turns out Mrs. Kostyra is Martha Stewart's mother, and this cupcake recipe is adapted from one of her recipes. See what reading more than just the recipe in a cookbook can teach you? It can also teach you that Martha's mother's first name was... you guessed it... Martha. I don't know why, but I always find it interesting when daughters are named after their mothers. I digress.

The only thing I didn't have for this recipe on hand was ground mace. Now I have a tiny jar of it that I'll probably never use again that cost me $7. Spices are so expensive. I had intended to make these cupcakes much earlier in the week than I actually did so I remembered to leave out both the butter and the eggs to get to room temperature. I didn't remember to leave out the milk, but I feel like that would have been a little gross anyway. So before I started making the batter I measured out the amount of milk I would need and let it sit on the counter while I did everything else. I figure it got close enough to room temperature, how much difference can it really make anyway?

First thing I got out of the way was buttering and flouring the cupcake pans. This has to be my least favorite thing. It's a messy process the whole way through. I make a mess while flouring the pans, and then I have a mess to clean up after the cupcakes are done and have been removed from the pans. Why can't we just use liners all the time? It makes cleanup so much easier. I like easy and I hate washing a bunch of dishes.

After the pans were taken care of I "sifted" together the dry ingredients. Let me be honest, I didn't sift together anything. I used my whisk, like I always do to combine the dry ingredients. I don't have the necessary tools (or patience) to sift the dry ingredients 3 times. Until someone tells me that process is absolutely necessary, I'm not going to do it. I think my whisk gets the job done just as well and everything was sufficiently combined.

With the dry ingredients successfully "sifted together 3 times" I prepared the rest of the batter which wasn't much work. I did have to microwave the butter for about 5 seconds so it was soft enough to mix with the brown sugar. Sometimes, even after leaving the butter out to get to room temperature it doesn't quite get there. Especially when you leave it out in the kitchen and that's the coldest room in your house. Oh well.

With everything combined the batter was a pretty liquid consistency, but I didn't think it was quite liquid enough to pour into the pans so I used my old standby... the tablespoon. I filled each three-quarters full and had enough batter for 24 cupcakes and then some. Since I didn't want to have to wait for the pans to cool, then remove the cupcakes, then re-butter and re-flour the pans to use the rest of the batter I decided to whip out my mini cupcake pan (and mini cupcake liners) and make mini cupcakes with the remaining batter. I had enough batter for 8 mini cupcakes plus the 24 regular-sized ones that I already had. I was particularly excited about this because then I could carry out my taste test with a mini cupcake and save myself a couple calories. It's amazing when everything comes together.

Once the cupcakes were baked for 20 total minutes with a turn halfway through (10 total minutes for the mini cupcakes with a turn halfway through) and then cooled completely I removed them from the pans and placed them on a cooling rack so I could glaze them. The citrus glaze is one that I have made before for these triple-citrus cupcakes only this time I used orange juice and orange zest. But again, it was not complicated. Although, I can't quite figure out why Martha's glaze always looks perfectly white in her pictures and mine dries almost clear. She must take her pictures before the glaze sets. Or maybe she uses more confectioner's sugar so it's not as thin. I'll have to remember to ask her sometime. Maybe she'll share her secrets. To glaze the cupcakes I just spooned some glaze over the top and let it set. I put a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet underneath the wire cooling rack to help contain the drippage (technical term) so I wouldn't have a huge mess. It worked.

Because I was enacting my taste test with a mini cupcakes I actually dipped the whole top of the cupcake in the glaze. I figured since it was smaller I could allow myself a little more glaze and a couple extra calories, right? I really liked the completed cupcake. They were good by themselves, but the glaze really added another nice flavor/component. I bet you're thinking, "My, with that language it sounds like she's been watching some Top Chef." You're right!