Birthday Baking Bonanza!

August 24, 2009

My gosh, baking is so intense! All of you bakers should be commended. It’s so much harder than regular ole cooking and makes 3x the mess and 10x the dirty dishes!!! The only thing I like about baking is eating the product :mrgreen:

So far my results have been less than perfect, but still look like they’re going to taste good.

I was majorly stressed out with choices last night. You guys had some excellent suggestions, but I ultimately wanted a vanilla cupcake (and so did Kelsey) and I didn’t want to have to take an extra grocery store trip for special ingredients like buttermilk. I wanted a product I could make with flour, sugar and butter start to finish, and I didn’t care about nutritional stats. This is for a birthday!! Normally I would have the attitude of “might as well cut back if you can and still product a great product” but since the party isn’t at my house, I didn’t want to risk it.

I almost made these Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes simply because EVERYONE recommends them, but again, I wanted to do vanilla.

I also almost made my Gram’s Hot Milk Cake into cupcakes, but I wasn’t sure of the exact cooking time and all, so I decided not to take a chance.

I settled on Amy Sedaris’ Vanilla Cupcakes after reading the rave reviews on RecipeZaar

Snafu #1 – Matt told me it would take overnight to get the butter to room temp. I solved this problem but putting the sticks in a cast iron skillet on the still-luke-warm burner we cooked our pancakes on. Perfect solution, as they were soft in just 30 minutes or so.

(Little did I know I was one stick short and I’d have to do this again with a fourth!! OH, and I had only salted butter so I used that anyways…)

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Batter mixing is fun with our Kitchaid Wedding Gift from Meredeth and her mom!

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Snafu #2: We didn’t have enough sugar!! Luckily Matt was home and biked there quickly to replenish.

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Ice cream scoop to the rescue

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They turned out kinda lumpy but hopefully frosting will help that. I haven’t tasted them yet, but hoping they are as good as people say! My batch made 22 / 24 so I think I filled them a bit high.

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While cupcakes cooled, Matt and I went to the gym.

Biked there –> 30 minutes on the ET with Real Simple –> killer tiring pull-ups and push-ups –> fire alarm goes off –> we get to leave early :) —> bike home –> speedy shower ……….

……Lunch was awesome!!! Knowing we had leftover mashed potatoes, I made us Salad Niçoise!

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Romine dressed in lemon olive oil and kosher salt topped with

Zucchini, green pepper, potato, tomato, pickle, shaved carrot, capers, hard boiled egg and tuna.

It rocked!

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Next step: FROSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Clearly the best part of any dessert. Ever.

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Again, Earth Balance non-hydrogenated shortening was recommended (by famous chef Jenna) but I decided to go with what I had on hand to save a trip to the store.

I was going to make this Sprinkles Vanilla Buttercream but when Andrea recommended this Raspberry Buttercream I had to partake when I remembered I had the perfect ingredient:

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A Nectars De Bourgogne Coulis de Framboise that Dean & Deluca had sent me a while ago!! I was waiting for the perfect occasion to use it.

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Major lickage occurred on this piece when the whipping was done:

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Ready for piping. I had a little trouble with it being too runny. A little refrigeration helped, but it’s still on the slidey side.

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And you’ll have to wait and see how it turned out!!! Another secret ingredient was added that took this frosting from good to fabulous!

Baking wore me out!

Must. Get. Work. Done.

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Priyanka August 24, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Can’t wait to see the final product! I am sure it will be fantastic!


2 kay (eating machine) August 24, 2009 at 2:25 pm

I love baking!
One trick I’ve found when I forget to soften butter is to put it on defrost (30% power) for really really short bursts of time in the microwave. You’ve got to watch it, and only to 5-10 seconds at a time, but it works!


3 Caroline August 24, 2009 at 2:39 pm

I would love nothing more than to dive into that bowl of frosting…


4 Ashley August 24, 2009 at 2:40 pm

This maaay be my favorite post yet! I can totally relate to the cake problems, from start to finish. I l.o.v.e. baking, but have many of the same problems. Searching for a recipe takes FOReverrr. Then I usually try and start subsituting things the first time I try it out = bad idea….always forget at least 1 ingredient —> have to go to store —> always forget to leave things out to get to room temp,etc. etc. Somehow I haven’t had any complete disasters yet! Looove the frosting color, can’t wait to scarf 1 down tonight!!! Your salad is BEEuuutiful!!!


5 brandi August 24, 2009 at 2:41 pm

1. that salad looks SO good!

2. i would like just a bowl of that icing :)

can’t wait to see the finished products!


6 klm August 24, 2009 at 2:47 pm

you. are. amazing.


7 megan August 24, 2009 at 2:49 pm

i love baking so much more than cooking. i just made vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting for my husband’s birthday. :)


8 Sheri August 24, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Your lunch looks delish! and I betcha those cupcakes are going to taste fabulous!! Mmmm…frosting is the best part!


9 MelissaNibbles August 24, 2009 at 2:58 pm

I’ve made Amy Sedaris’s cupcakes before and they were yummy! I’ve actually made a few of her recipes and really liked them.
Enjoy the birthday festivities!


10 Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope August 24, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Sticking with the classics is often the best idea! That frosting looks so good too. I can’t wait to see the finished products!


11 Courtney Leigh August 24, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Yummy! I always, always, always make homemade buttercream. Most times I use box mixes (with a few secret alterations to improve them) for my cakes and then the homemade frosting. You can never go wrong.

You can always add a bit more confectioner’s sugar to thicken up the frosting if you need to. Promise it won’t hurt the taste at all. 😉


12 Shannon (The Daily Balance) August 24, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Love the colorful salad! And we all know cupcakes are just a platform for FROSTING, so pile it on there!

Can’t wait to see the finished product 😉


13 Julie August 24, 2009 at 3:02 pm

I love baking!! Was the secret ingredient booze?!


14 Christie @ Quit Your Diet August 24, 2009 at 3:04 pm


Can’t wait to see how the cupcakes turned out!


15 Eve August 24, 2009 at 3:12 pm

looks like quite the baking adventure! i agree, baking takes a ton of time and leaves so many dishes. I rarely bake since I don’t have a kitchenaid and never have the right ingredients. I’m sure the cupcakes will be delicious!


16 Holly August 24, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Totally random but, I find myself really wanting a purse organizer like you mentioned way back when. I was so proud of myself for seraching your blog and finding it here:, but you only mention that someone sent it to you cuz you liked Real Simple. Is there somewhere to buy it? I will also begin googling for a similar product. :) Thanks!


17 Holly August 24, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Okay, I think you got a Pouchee:

I also like this one…

Ha, I am now shopping in your comments. I crack myself up. How do you like yours?


18 Jenna August 24, 2009 at 3:21 pm

i can’t wait to see what they turn out like!


19 Teresica August 24, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Amy Sedaris is HILARIOUS! I didn’t know she was a baker as well. That makes me love her more. Have you ever seen Strangers with Candy? I little dark humor but still hilarious.


20 Cynthia (It all changes) August 24, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Baking always results in me and everything else covered in flour and other ingredients but I do love the results.

And lucky for me if I have to bake a bunch I can use my church industrial kitchen 😉


21 Meredith (Pursuing Balance) August 24, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Can’t wait to see how they turn out!


22 lynn (The Actors Diet) August 24, 2009 at 3:39 pm

like you, i’m not a huge baker. but once in a blue moon i will do it. can’t wait to see the results of all your hard work!


23 haya August 24, 2009 at 3:40 pm

cupcakes are awesome!! also. pink frosting!!!! yay for birthday girls.

also. i almost always used to use salted butter in my baking and never had problems. you can quickly take butter from cold to room temperature with a few (maybe 20-40?) seconds in the microwave. easy squeezy.
i am sure they will be delish!


24 Serena August 24, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Wow, the cupcakes look good but your salad looks even better to me! Such a great idea – I love tuna nicoise but never think to make it with canned tuna. I am definitely going to do that.


25 Jenn ( August 24, 2009 at 3:46 pm

That salad looks AMAZING! I’m sure the cupcakes are going to be great, too! Can’t wait to see.

Did ya add raspberry Chamborde to the frosting? Just a guess! 😛



26 Mia August 24, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Ha! We are living parallel lives today. I too woke up and made healthy banana pancakes for breakfast and as I type, I have vanilla cupcakes in the oven! Chocolate devil’s food are next! Happy Birthday to Kelsey. Hope the cupcakes are delish! Timer is calling me…


27 Lizzy August 24, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Lunch looks completely stellar!

Kudos on the baking! how yummy! i can’t wait to see the finished product!


28 Angharad August 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Love baking but I too love the end result the most! I’m still not confident enough of my baking skills to bake for anyone other than the hubs! ha ha – wimp!


29 Anne August 24, 2009 at 4:25 pm

That Amy Sedaris recipe is supposed to be great. I haven’t tried it yet… I need a birthday soon!


30 Sara August 24, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Oh I love baking! But you’re right…lots of dirty dishes come out of it. :) The cupcakes sound delish. Can’t wait to see how they turn out.


31 K August 24, 2009 at 4:37 pm

I made that exact recipe two years ago for my birthday and they were a hit! I’m sure your’s will be fabulous as well :)


32 Susan August 24, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Ha, sounds like you bake the same way I do!!! I can put a dinner together no prob, but throw in some sugar, butter and an oven and I get stressed out. Best part is always the major lickage and sampling the finished product though :) Raspberry frosting was a great idea!!


33 Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) August 24, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Those cupcakes look amazing!


34 cupcake monster August 24, 2009 at 5:06 pm

me loves me some pink raspberry coulis frosted vanilla cupcakes. get in my belly!


35 Evan Thomas August 24, 2009 at 5:19 pm

If that was me, the frosting wouldn’t have made it out of the bowl before getting eaten lol.


36 Amanda August 24, 2009 at 5:19 pm

oh goodness! i CANNOT wait to try one tonight :-) yay for Kelsey’s birthday!


37 Heather August 24, 2009 at 5:27 pm

The pictures look so beautiful today! I now need to make cupcakes soon… yum!


38 Angie August 24, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Your Salad Nicoise looks fabulous!!

And, I totally understand – I love to cook, but I’m intimidated by baking- it’s so much more precise and scientific. Love the pink frosting though- looks fabulous!


39 sarah (ghost world) August 24, 2009 at 5:36 pm

absolutely loved your gather post :) i miss having a real start to the school year — although i suppose in some ways my job still feels like school.


40 Lainie August 24, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Those cupcakes sound divine; can’t wait to see the final product!


41 emmy - eatventures August 24, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Good choice; I’ve never made any of the recipes but I am obsessed with her entertaining book, it’s hilarious!


42 Pam (Highway to Health) August 24, 2009 at 6:44 pm

I love to bake but the mess keeps me from doing it too often. I bet they are going to come out awesome!


43 Jenn Eats Nutritiously Now August 24, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I love baking AND cooking. I’m not the best at either, but I do love them.


44 Shannon August 24, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Those cupcakes were a labor of love! I’m sure they will turn out beautifully.

I love your salads…they always look amazing an dhave the most fun ingredients!


45 Lauren August 24, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Kudos to you on the baking! My baking abilities stink, so its always so inpsiring to know that other cooks out there are also capable of baking too. I just assume you are only blessed with one of these (kind of like being right/left handed, but ocassionaly you come across the ambidextrion)

Kath, if you get a chance, please check out my latest post on my 10k Blogger Meet up idea. If you would be able to do this, I think it would be a blast!


46 angieinatlanta August 24, 2009 at 7:51 pm

I agree – baking is so much harder than regular cooking! It’s weirdly relaxing AND tiring at the same time!

Great idea with the butter!


47 Steph August 24, 2009 at 8:32 pm

OMG my mouth is watering at the sight of the raspberry coulis!!! Can’t wait to see the cakes :)


48 Kristie August 24, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Baking’s a mess and a task and a half but that’s half the fun! Okay okay, only 1/3 of the fun. The other 2/3rds go to the final product consumption of course. And licking the bowl 😉 That icing. looks. AMAZING.


49 Allyson August 24, 2009 at 8:47 pm

I started a baker and moved into cooking, so it is my first love. Baking with my papa is one of my favorite things to do and I can’t wait to share that with my kids and grandkids, too.


50 Kath August 24, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Holly ,
Haha – love it! It was a gift from Real Simple. I think someone said you can find them at Target? And the Pouchee thing is the same concept.



51 Jac August 24, 2009 at 9:25 pm

looks the pink color


52 Michelle T August 24, 2009 at 9:38 pm

ohhh GOD the gorgeous baby pink frosting just made my day. I swear there’s not enough pink frosting out there!!! *drool* And your salad…just makes me embarrassed at my own lack of salad making skills. hahahah


53 Yolande McKenzie August 24, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Hey Kath:)
I picked up some St.Croix Grapefruit Sparkling Water on Sunday on sale for 3 bucks (woot) I was wondering what you like about, because I pretty much hate it lol…Maybe I’m missing something..does it need to be very cold?
Just wanted to know your thoughts


54 Kath August 25, 2009 at 8:22 am

Yolande ,
I like it, but it’s not my favorite flavor. I prefer the berry ones!



55 Jess August 25, 2009 at 12:39 pm

I love baking, even though it’s super messy. I don’t like making frosting though.


56 klm June 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I still dream of these cupcakes often. Ashley has a birthday coming up + I see this frosting in my future!!!!!!!!!


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