Sunday, February 28, 2010

My take on Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcake

My copy of The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook arrived a few days ago. I think there is really no question as to what recipe I should be trying first. The Vanilla-Vanilla? Of course! According to Magnolia's original owners, this is the most popular cupcake at the bakery and that the most popular colour of the icing is pink.  Well, I've only been to New York once in my life and that was pre-Magnolia bakery days.  So until I get the chance to go back and have a taste of the real thing, I am going to have to rely on the recipe, trusting that this is really the same they use over at the bakery.

I've read conflicting reviews on the vanilla cupcake recipe.  Some swear that the resulting cupcake was the best they've ever eaten but countless others say that it was dry and lacking in flavour.  I just had to find out for myself!
(Of course, I had to use pink frosting as well!)

My verdict?  The vanilla cupcakes were beautiful! Probably not the best out there but nevertheless, moist with great flavour.  I actually ate two, one after the other.  Comparing the cupcake photo from the cookbook with my cupcake, the texture seemed pretty similar.

I didn't use the vanilla buttercream though.  Just by reading through the recipe, I knew how utterly sweet it was.  I opted for creamy vanilla frosting instead, the same Magnolia uses for their red velvet cupcakes.

Next on my list is the chocolate cupcake.

The recipe for Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla Cupcake can be found here and the Creamy Vanilla Frosting here.  Half recipe of the frosting is enough to make swirly tops for 24 cupcakes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Laptop bag

My daughter got a new HP ProBook, thanks to the new 1:1 student laptop program in her school.  No, the laptop is not free (I wish), but parent-funded.  Part of the cost, however, is subsidized by the school and payment is on installment basis (which is good).

Naturally, I offered to make a laptop bag. My daughter's only request was that I use a dark fabric, the reason being, she did not like bright colours that would attract attention.  As for me, my idea was to do it in her school colours (navy blue, maroon and yellow gold) so it would look like it was an official school bag.  I already had almost everything on hand...

* a thick denim fabric I found at the Op shop sometime ago (about 2 meters for $5)
* a maroon cotton blend fabric, remnant from this old project
* a long strap (complete with swivel hooks and strap adjuster) salvaged from a bag I had already thrown out
* a black pre-quilted fabric I had bought on sale months ago but have not found any use for yet
* an embroidered school logo that I had cut off from one of my son's worn out uniforms
* interlining, velcro, buttons and thread in my stash
The only thing new I had to purchase was yellow gold thread. 

So here it daughter's new laptop bag!

(Sorry, I had to blur out the school logo for privacy reasons.)

(Close-up of patchwork stitch)

(Open bag showing pre-quilted lining fabric)

(Super neat inside!)

The bag came together quite easily, athough at some point, I was really worried my sewing machine would not be able to handle the super thick layers (Aside from the already thick pre-quilted lining, I had also lined the denim with fusible fleece!).  Sewing slowly did the trick. I wasn't contented with the old black strap so I added a denim strip along one side. I also skipped adding pockets to make things a little easier for me.  My daughter has her school bag for her other things anyway. 

Overall, I am super happy with how this bag turned out (and how I nearly had no new cash outlay!) and am even happier that my daughter absolutely loved it! Yesterday, she used the bag for the first time.  In the afternoon, I asked her if anybody noticed her bag.  She said, it wasn't even 2 seconds after she entered the school that a teacher already came up to her and asked where she got it!

So much for not attracting attention.

PS. Some other stuff I've done in the past week or so...

Purple yam chiffon cake for a family friend's birthday

Coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Friday, February 19, 2010

One year on...

Today marks my mom's first death anniversary. One year on, I can honestly say I am doing ok. I still do find myself crying every so often. The sad thoughts seem to just hit me unexpectedly......when I am at church, while I'm driving, before I go to sleep at night. When the tears fall though, it is when I think my mother is probably just in my midst watching over me.  For that reason then, crying becomes a good thing.

I no longer fear dying. Why would I, when I know, that is the only way I would be reunited with my mother? I believe without a speck of doubt that she is in heaven and if I were to get to that same place and see her again someday, I need to live the kind of life that she lived. That is my personal challenge. She was a woman of great faith. Even through her tremendous pain and sufferings, she never ceased praying and trusting in our Lord. She was also a selfless wife and mother, who loved my father and us, her children, unconditionally.

As you leave this blog, I ask that you say even just a short prayer for my mom and for your own loved ones who have gone ahead of you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Loving my cupcakes

So sorry for being gone for a while.  My kids went back to school for the new school year on the first of this month and I had to make a bit of adjustment to my schedule.

I have had orders for cupcakes this past week and am enjoying my baking time immensely.  My personal favourite is red velvet (I think I've written about that in here many times already!). I've read over the internet about how famous this kind of cupcake is in the US, especially the one from Magnolia Bakery in New York.  Their recipe is widely available online and there are even videos on You Tube demostrating how to make the cupcake, the frosting, as well as how to decorate each one. (I encourage you to watch the videos!).The recipe I use is very similar, except that I put in less cocoa and much, much less red food colouring.  The procedure, however, is exactly the same.  As for the frosting, my preference is cream cheese rather than vanilla buttercream.

Have you watched the videos yet? What do you think about how they frost the cupcake?  Too much?  A bit messy?  Frankly, I don't like to judge because I've never actually seen and tasted their cupcake. One thing I can say for sure is that everybody around here loves my version and if I may say so (without bragging), my frosting looks much neater...

Perfect for Valentine's day, isn't it?

I purchased Magnolia Bakery's cookbook from Amazon a few days ago.  Can't wait to get my hands on it and find out just what makes them world famous!  My cupcakes might get famous in Melbourne too one day.  I can dream, can't I?