New Post: Bubbly (Champagne Firework Cupcakes)

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What do you think of when your hear “Independence Day” or “July 4th?” Most people I know probably think “America,” “Patriotism,” “Red, White, & Blue,” and a whole host of people related to the day of July 4, 1776 (John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, etc.). Then we’ve got the barbecues and the cook-outs; what’s a Fourth of July without them?

Oh, but please, don’t forget what rounds out the end of the day: fireworks.

I made these cupcakes about a week ago, but the name for these cupcakes hit me today–a great coincidence. I wanted to try something different with my cupcakes, and I instantly remembered the champagne cupcakes my friend used to make for special occasions.

Champagne cupcakes? Yeah, that’s different, that’s special. However, I wanted something more…

Champagne cupcakes with Pop Rocks? Now we’ve got something to talk about.

Originally used to replicate the bubbly sensation of the champagne that is lost after baking the alcohol off, the pop rocks atop the delicate, barely sweet, fluffy cake and the sweet and smooth champagne buttercream create a sensation of which you’ve never had in a cupcake.

I like to be modest, but boy, was this a good idea :P.

So while you’re settling down from you BBQ today and watching the night sky, have one of these refreshing and fun cupcakes–the fireworks in your mouth will be a perfect complement to the fireworks above!

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Fudge, The Intern (Part VIII): Fudge, The Baker?

Today, I went out with a bang. Well, a bang without the sound effects. Or perhaps an explosion of powder is more apt.

Everything was going fine. However, a customer ordered 50 cupcakes–cleaned out the whole front of the bakery–so the whole kitchen was in cupcake construction mode and I was put in charge of making buttercream. I had made two batches yesterday and had already made two batches today that were perfect–perfect consistency, perfect flavor (this is my opinion, although L said they were excellent! :P).

I thought I had got the formula down. Butter, low speed, high speed. Powdered sugar, low speed, high speed. Flavoring, low speed, high speed, high speed. Simple enough, no? Well, when I got to the powdered sugar stage on my third batch, my brain said, “Who needs low speed? Pssh…let’s kick it into high gear.”

White. Powder. Clouds of white powder filled the air and covered my face and my jeans and I realized that, no, it isn’t simple enough.

Psychedelic, man...

What ensued was as scramble to clean and laughs from the whole bakery and from myself ridiculing my slight. “Eh, it had to happen once!” I said. “It happens to everybody,” G said, “and it happened to me twice!” At that moment, I knew I was in the right place. Sadly, Fudge the Intern is no longer, but…

Fudge The Baker is now in talks of employment in the bakery!

😀

As I said, I knew I was in the right place–I will thankfully continue to be for the next few months before I’m off the Blg Apple.

Moose? Mooses? Oh, right, Meese.

P.S.: Today’s pictures–aside from the Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes are all funny goods or oddities I took photos of today. Thought I’d keep it lighthearted instead of the sentimental post I had planned!

Fudge, The Intern (Part VII): Yum.

Feet throbbing, back aching, and head pulsating, I stepped out of the bakery today missing the spring in my step that I arrived with earlier in the morning. Perhaps it was the longer hours today, or maybe it was the fact that there were six bakers in the kitchen when there usually are about three. Truthfully, it probably was just me being hypersensitive after a sugar crash.

None of this means that I don’t love what I do, however; baking is one of my huge passions and the opportunity to intern here is worth all the ephemeral aches and pains. However, I’m going to let the pictures do a little more of the talking today, if that’s alright with you all.

The day started out with some pecan pie bars (which I actually didn’t get the chance to photograph! So sorry, I’ll make it up to you all) while N sliced up and plated some brownies.

You’ve got your classic fudge brownies…

…your Scout Brownies (with Girl Scout cookies inside of them!)…

…your Peanut Butter Brownies (which look beautiful with the designs on them)…

…and your Fudge Walnut brownies…

These are actually some of my favorite brownies in the shop–although the salted caramel ones still reign supreme for me. I love the varied texture and nutty (duh) flavor that the walnuts give the brownie.

Now, this was a sad cupcake. An under-baked orange cupcake, it proved unable to be frosted with its orange buttercream counterpart due to the huge indentation in the middle. However, a quick piping job fixed the whole situation. Happy cupcake.

Oh yeah, lots of cookies today.

Also, lots of ice cream sandwiches.

But I digress.

Now, there were two real blg standouts for today. You saw a bit about the first in the first photo in the post. I cannot take credit for those cupcakes; one of my fellow bakers, “Q,”
did the beautiful piping and fondant job for those cupcakes. She even went into little minute details like the tiny fondant ladybug. Great job, Q!

The second was something of my creation. By the end of the day, I was thinking of things I hadn’t attempted yet. As my eyes scanned the room, I saw the industrial mixer.

“…Buttercream?”

I had frosted, yes, but never had I actually made the frosting. Luckily, G was more than happy to show me the ropes. The first batch started off a little rocky–a new mixer, an oral recipe–but after my first two very successful batches, I’m glad to say that I can officially make buttercream!

Tomorrow, my time as an intern officially ends (although I will be going in again on Tuesday to bake some things for a presentation). However, my time there hopefully won’t have to end as my internship concludes–fingers crossed! I’m hoping for the best tomorrow.

Lastly, I just wanted to say: thank you all to those who have been following my journey in the bakery these past two weeks. I really do appreciate your readership; I mean it!

Fudge, The Intern (Part VI): Second Taste Test Round-Up

You saw the pictures yesterday. You know you want them. Now let’s get down to business.

Lemon Bars

Your standard but oh-so-much-better lemon bar. The lemon bar is beautifully tangy, erring on the more solid side as consistency goes (versus the more “liquidy” or “jammy” versions of lemon bars), keeping its shape well. The lemon filling is accompanied with a satisfying crumble by the shortbread crust on the bottom, the flavor of which offsets some of the sweetness. All in all, a very well-rounded dessert.

Chocochino Cupcake

This is probably my favorite combination of cupcake (chocolate) and frosting (cappuccino) from the bakery.  The semisweet coffee flavor in the buttercream brings out and compliments the dark, intense flavor of the chocolate cake, resulting in a very grown-up version of the cupcake we all know and love.

Also, Forget about this particular picture; Girlfriend and I didn’t care about the looks of this cupcake when it was in our mouths :).

Vanilla Cupcake with Cappucilla Buttercream

If chocolate cake and cappuccino frosting is my favorite combination, the vanilla cake is my favorite standalone component of the three standard flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet. Guys, this is vanilla, without question. The flavor is absolutely there and spot on, and your palate will dive headfirst into a sea of fluffy, moist vanilla. Also, cappucilla buttercream? That’s the vanilla and cappuccino buttercreams that got mixed while I was practicing. A serendipitous combination, I say! It’s like eating a vanilla cappuccino.

Oreo Brownie

The bakery’s incredibly moist, deliciously fudgey brownie studded with pieces of Oreo cookies. Now, who has a problem with that combination?

Currant Scone

I didn’t get any of the currants, as I only took a tiny slice to try it before I gave the rest to my mum, so I’ll talk about the general scone itself–and what a scone it was. Nothing like your store-bought or day-old scone, this had just the right amount–but barely any–crunch on the outside, a slightly sugary taste before giving way to an absolutely delicate and tender center. This was probably my favorite of the bunch because it was barely sweet and was a joy to eat.

Coconut/Dream Bar

A teeny bit dry (perhaps because it had been sitting out for an hour or two, but very awesome nonetheless. Layer after layer of goodness: toasted sweetened coconut flakes, walnuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and a nice crunchy shortbread crust. This morsel was gone in seconds.

…?

Now, for the last sweet of the round-up!

So, I don’t know what this is. It has chocolate. It’s got some powdered sugar on top.  It tastes…different. Other than that, though, I’ve got nothing. More on this one later.

Well, that’s it for the second taste test round-up! Tune in tomorrow for another day at the bakery.

Fudge, The Intern (Part V): Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect

There’s only so much new stuff one can do in a bakery before it all becomes repetitive. Thus today wasn’t a day full of new lessons and surprises in baking, but a day of perfecting technique, a day of getting into the groove of things, and, of course, a day of sweets galore.

One thing I’m very proud of today?

That. My first cupcake approved by N for sale in the shop (although I was too proud of it to give away so I took it home for my mum…it didn’t quite survive the bike ride, though :/). I’ve finally (almost) got the technique down! I would say that is miles ahead of the first cupcake I frosted today…

Yeah. I’m proud to show that mess because the photo before it. At least the camera makes this cupcake look pretty.

Like I mentioned earlier, today was a day of getting into the groove of things. Cookies were mixed quicker, scooped easier; doughnut muffins were finished off with more finesse; samples and trimmings were sampled less and less frequently ( 😉 ).

I could really tell the difference of how I was baking last week versus my first day this week. Everything “flowed;” I was able to do more in less time and more efficiently. I was also given the reigns by N to really work how I (i.e. the bakery) needed, working to make I saw that we needed versus having N follow me step by step to tell me what I needed to do. That doesn’t mean that I asked a few questions along the line; I’m still learning here.

OH! Did you all know the Bourbon vanilla extract is actually called “Bourbon” because of the name of the islands off the coast of Madagascar, not because of the alcohol content in a jar of vanilla extract? Just a tidbit I learned that I thought I should share.

HEY. I was excited when I heard it, and this is my blog. 😀

Anyways, at the end of the day, I felt fulfilled as all this work was starting to become second nature, even though I only have two more days of work at the bakery (:(). However, N and fellow baker “G,” the only other guy in the bakery, said they would love to have me work more at the bakery over the summer until I go to college! I think that would be a great experience…I’ll keep you all updated as we go on.

For now, I will leave you all with a little preview of what I’m blogging about tomorrow…

Fudge, The Intern (Part IV): So…Much…Frosting…

Yes, I made a few batches of cookies. Yes, I made 7 dozen mini cupcakes. Those I had done before, those were simple. However, today really started with this:

One perfectly frosted cupcake. Smooth, uniform, suave, it has the signature “swoop” in the middle found on all of my bakery’s cupcakes. What follows was my first attempt at frosting a cupcake immediately before the tutorial…

…and immediately afterwards.

As you can tell from the photos, I’m obviously a master froster.

This, my friends, is what we call in the bakery world, “bad.” Frosting tools and buttercream in hand, I set off to perfect my frosting technique because, as we all know, practice makes perfect. I hope.

By my third attempt, I started to get somewhere. Everything began to smooth out just a bit, the characteristic “swoop” finally somewhat emerging.

“Keep on frosting,” I said, “Just keep on frosting. You’ll get it soon, I promise.”

It was then that I realized that I was talking to myself about frosting cupcakes and that I may or may not have been focusing way too hard on doing it. After multiple tries at frosting, scraping, and refrosting, as well as two red velvet practice cupcakes later, I finally ended up with a rough version of what we usually put out in the shop.

All the elements are there. Rough, but there. It seems that in the battle of frosting vs. Fudge, frosting had the upper hand and was victorious.

Suddenly, I heard kids’ voices over the whirring of the mixers. Suddenly, there was an influx of children in the bakery! I realized that they were all having a field trip to learn about baking and a little about the science behind it. They were all so cute and eager to know about everything that was going on; I even helped them scoop cookies :).

After a few hours of cupcakes and kids, I was done for the day. The frosting won the battle today, but I know that I’ll triumph over it next week. Even though it won the battle, I think I won in terms of the spoils of victory…Those red velvet practice cupcakes with the pink frosting? Yeah, the frosting used to be white buttercream.