Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Treats fit for munchkins, boo boos, babycakes, and fairies

I love seasons. I do not enjoy living without them. I lived for a time in southern California and Florida, and it was so difficult to not shepherd in September with vibrant golds, burning oranges, and fiery reds; Christmas trees looked really out of place decorating the outdoor mall while I meandered in shorts and a tank top, picking out gifts; Spring wasn't Spring without the April showers, or chance of snow. It was Pleasant, Cool Summer, Hot Summer, and Kind-of-Dreary-but-not-really for 12 months out of the year. I am a person who loves change, and seasons provide it in abundance: just when I feel Winter is out of vogue, in comes Spring to get me working in the yard, prepping the garden, and ushering my down parka back into the deep recesses of the front hall closet. I also like routine. I never said I made much sense. So the seasonal rotation and monthly association I come to count on also delights and enchants me.

Because I know one season is only here for so long, being snowed in does not upset this gal. This is the second time this January we have received oodles of snow. I am in heaven. This also causes me no stress because I work from home, so I don't have to commute behind the relocator-from-AZ-who-doesn't-possess-snow-driving-skills-owned SUV. Snow and snow days and overcast grey skies move me to bake and cook and nest and cuddle. Today, I incorporated all my favs: cuddle under my blankets when my flight was cancelled; had a magical tea/ birthday party with H; cooked chicken and roasted vegetables with some leftover corn pudding; and baked fairy cakes.

" 'What are fairy cakes, Mom?' asked H. 'I want to make pupcakes (translation: cupcakes)! Why is your book calling them fairies?' (jumping up and down) 'Do we have fairies to here, in the house? Oh! Are they company to eat my pupcakes? Oh Mama, I want a fairy to have a tea party with!' "

Well, I did have to disappoint her on the non-existent house guests, but I had to look up why my British English cookbook called pupcakes, er cupcakes, fairy cakes. Here's what I got, courtesy of the Net.

I would've just called it a cupcake but fairy cake is so fun, no? So fairy cakes it was, and they were delicious and cozy and just the right warm vanilla-y smell to warm up our chilly house and make the snow appear even more magical. We still have a few left, and the snow keeps falling. H had a 2-hour delay this am due to the icy weather. While I was brushing her hair, she mused,"Perhaps there are some snow fairies outside who would like some cake. I think we should leave one near the bird feeder."

Fairy Cakes

Once again, Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess is used as the inspiration. I seriously want to be Nigella. She is gorgeous and witty and very good at instructions. Moreover, she views her recipes more like a conversation and a jumping off point. She is (mostly) unfussy yet sophisticated and modern in her approach. I just love someone who's cookbooks house Granny's heirloom recipe alongside PB sandwiches for the King.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
7 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk (any kind is fine)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs, one at time, until well incorporated. Mix milk and vanilla together. Alternate liquid mixture and flour until batter is smooth and creamy. Place liners in cupcake pan. Fill with an ice cream scoop or until liner is half-way full. Cook for about 15-17 minutes. Cool on a rack and frost with your heart's desire of icing goodness: chocolate ganache, buttercream, or royal icing, as we did.

It seems only fitting to frost something British with a topping known as Royal Icing.

Royal Icing

1 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
tablespoon (or so) of water
Food coloring (we made ours pink)

Blend sugar and water together. Add food coloring. Dip cupcake top in and swirl to get off excess.

We also topped ours with red M&Ms, to look like "a cherry on top." I would probably go a little more hardcore with some pastel candies, roses, other sugar-fied decorations (sugared violets?). But it was a snowstorm. We made 'em fierce with what we had in the cupboard.

1 comment:

  1. yum!! fairy cakes does sound way better than cupcakes (but not better than pupcakes - why is your daughter the sweetest child EVER?!)