For someone who’s been very interested in food and cooking for a large part of her life, I was late catching onto Martha Stewart fanhood. I just didn’t know much about her, for whatever reason. I didn’t watch her show, I didn’t read her magazine, and I hadn’t made any of her recipes. But then last Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.
This is a really great book. For one thing, every recipe has a beautiful picture accompanying it. Also, many of the recipes include garnishes. What a relief for someone like me, who is new to caring about garnishes! But more important, of course, are the recipes themselves. There’s a great mix of classics, like chocolate chip cookies and buttermilk biscuits, to more advanced but still familiar recipes, like a wedding cake and croissants, plus a good peppering of more original ideas, like grapefruit cookies and rum-raisin pie. I’m especially excited to make my way through some of the cookie recipes. Whoever heard of grapefruit in cookies? Yum!
I’ve been craving cupcakes for quite some time now, and I wanted something a little bit more…interesting that your standard old chocolate or vanilla. These were perfect! I’m especially happy with the maple buttercream frosting. I had my doubts going in, because I haven’t had the most successful history of working with buttercream. Also, I was only making a third of the recipe. I know buttercream is very temperature sensitive, and this much smaller amount was going to change temperatures a lot faster than the recipe indicates. And, I was worried about the method of combining the maple syrup and the egg yolk. The syrup is heated to 240 degrees (my probe thermometer tops out at 212 degrees, so I guessed and hoped for the best), then drizzled into the egg yolk. 240 degrees is…hot, especially for egg. But, it all seemed to work out! The buttercream did show signs of breaking, but I tried beating it more, and it actually came together very nicely!
The only change I would make to the recipe is to toast the walnuts before mixing them with the batter. Oh, and I wouldn’t spill a quarter of the dry ingredient mixture on the counter and then not notice until the cupcakes were in the oven. All in all, they were really good. And cute!
Maple-Walnut Cupcakes (from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook)
Makes 2 dozen
2¾ cups (13.75 ounces) unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups (10.5 ounces) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1½ cups (5.5 ounces) walnuts, toasted, chopped medium-fine
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard 12-up muffin pans with paper liners. Into a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined. With the mixer still on medium speed, add the flour mixture in two parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ended with the flour. Fold in the walnuts.
Divide the batter evenly among he muffin cups, adding about 1/3 cup to each. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cupcakes are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool slightly. Invert the cupcakes onto the rack; then reinvert and let them cool completely, top sides up. Frost tops with Maple Buttercream. Cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes (about 2 cups)
This frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. Bring to room temperature before using.
3 large eggs yolks
1 cup pure maple syrup
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitting with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes; set aside. In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the maple syrup to a boil, and cook until it registers 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
With the mixer running, slowly pour syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream, until completely incorporated, about 1 minute. Continue beating until bowl is just slightly warm to the touch, 4 to 5 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, until thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is fluffy, about 4 minutes more.