Trusting the Process

I’ve been making cakes for 25 years but cupcakes…that is turning out to be a whole ‘nuther story.

I’ve watched probably 50+ hours of YouTube tutorials in an effort to learn all I can without backrupting my husband. That’s probably an extremely conservative number to be honest.

Why the difficulty? Well in all my cupcake travels I’ve learned 2 things I personally experience in baking. Making a cupcake that doesn’t taste flat, flavorless and dry is more science than art. And many famous bakeries don’t have it nailed down. 

For example. I was shocked by the sheer volume of red velvet cupcakes out there without the slightest hint of cocoa flavor and zero undefineable tang. A red velvet cupcake isn’t merely a chocolate cupcake dolled up in copious amounts of blood red food dye! 

I actually had a shop gal tell me I had to taste the cupcake as a whole to experience the flavor she intended as she warily eyeballed my fork-mutilation of her art. She was correct. Her cupcake wasn’t stand-alone but since the filling was piped in rather than layered, as all fillings are, that meant approximately 2 bites were as intended. 

That doesn’t work for me. If I’m going to do this at all, I want to get it right. Each componet should produce a beautiful note that combined with the rest create a symphony in my mouth I want to play again and again. 

Since some of the cupcakes I tasted achieve this end, I know it’s doable. And so I have to do it. 

One morning lying in bed I was reading my millionth recipe practically in tears I was so frustrated when something happened. While reading the recipe I had a random thought. They used the wrong leavener. And sour cream would coat the flour better than milk to slow down the gluten formation producing a more tender crumb. Not as a rule of course, in that particular recipe.


I don’t even trust a chocolate cupcake recipe that doesn’t tell you to bloom cocoa powder in hot water, preferably with added espresso powder. The chocolate I buy is so expensive I can’t afford to miss tricks like this to help it reach full flavor potential!

I only know that because of the countless blog articles I’ve read by pastry chefs helping me figure how how to make a cupcake “more chocolatey”.  And well studied home-baking-bloggers too. There are brilliant ones out there.

Throw some science into your article and you had me at hello. 

Here’s something else I know. I don’t really have a problem hearing from God. If He wanted to simply hand me a dozen base recipes on which to slap mounds of sinfully rich yet delicate buttercreams that would be like shooting fish in a barrel between He and I. 

But for some reason He’s left me out in the dessert. In a sea of dry cupcakes. Which still go down nicely slathered in frosting and a little dash of ice cold milk.

So tonight I reasearch emulsifiers and natural preservatives. So many articles say cupcakes are dry by day 2 or 3 and I’m here to tell you even day 1 for some bakeries. WHY? 

Must. Figure. It. Out.




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