When I was looking for a job for the summer of 2011, I was hoping for something that didn't involve waiting tables or making beds. I put all my hobbies into the application, including baking, but I never even dreamed about actually getting a job as a baker. And then I did!
The farm stand where I worked hired me because I actually like baking. The year before, they hired a girl that hated baking and you can probably imagine what work was like for her. But me, I loved it. I was so excited to work with a huge oven, baking enormous batches of cookies... And even though my job was not what I had expected, I still loved it. No matter how hot the bakery was in August, I always preferred being in there, to being out in the sun.
When the summer was over, I was relieved. It doesn't look like it, but working in a bakery is actually very hard, hot and exhausting. Sometimes, things go wrong and there's no explanation for it. For your cookies and bars to be perfect, everything in the process of making them has to be perfect as well. There's no room for mistakes. Being a baker is a big responsibility. Now that I've seen that, I don't think I will ever look for a summer job in this field again. After all, I'm going to school to become a pharmacist and it's time to start looking for summer jobs in that area. But all the baking I did last year made me less excited to bake at home. Sure, I still do, but sometimes I did it every week. Now, I usually bake only once a month or less. I guess after smelling chocolate and cookies and pies and everything else that usually makes people like the smell of bakeries, I got somewhat tired of it.
I will conclude the series of posts about my American adventure in style - with the recipe that we made in our bakery for the most American holiday ever: July 4. They might look boring, but trust me, this is the best plain vanilla cake recipe I have ever tasted, and I don't even like plain cupcakes! There's just something about the buttercream (which is not even buttercream, but an old fashioned sugar-and-butter frosting) that makes the cupcake taste perfect.
When I was hired, they expected me to bake cupcakes all the time. But baking in a completely new environment, with new ingredients and with new recipes is not easy. I didn't want to experiment because that meant the owners of the bakery would lose time and money if something went wrong. So I just baked the regular cookies and bars because the recipes had already been tested many times before. However, for this particular holiday I came up with a few ideas that we could make, special treats for July 4, in red and blue. I planned on making beautiful pies with blueberries and strawberries, three layer cupcakes in a jar, different frostings, even cakes... In the end, I had to go with the simplest plan: a basic cupcake recipe with very easy decorations. I had always wanted to try Magnolia's recipe, so this was a perfect opportunity.
These cupcakes were made in our bakery on July 3. We worked until 9 in the evening and made more than a hundred. I colored half of them blue and half of them red. After putting a generous amount of buttercream on, I topped the red ones with three blue M&Ms and the blue ones with red M&Ms, so they were decorated in a typical July 4 fashion. Next day we sold more than 80. Success!
This is one of those recipes that you don't try at home because there's so much sugar in it, but you should. You seriously should. You can color the batter or buttercream any color you want, they are made quickly, you can even make them a few days in advance... Perfect, if you're baking for a large group. You won't be disappointed, and they won't be either.
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Cream butter in a large bowl. Gradually add sugar and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk and vanilla. Beat after each addition, but do not overbeat. (Optional: add food coloring)
- Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
- Beat butter, 4 cups of sugar, milk and vanilla until creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Gradually add more sugar, until the frosting has the right spreading consistency.
Approximate cost of one cupcake: 0.4 €