In Bittersweet, Hudson Avery is a provocative cupcake namer.
She’s also a high school student trying and failing to balance the importance of family with the hopes of something beyond her small hometown. Talk about a relatable heroine.
But back to the simpler topic of baking- each chapter of Sarah Ockler’s novel starts with a cupcake.
The illustriously titled “When Life Hands You Lemons, Stuff ‘Em in Your Bra Cakes” (it’s too much fun to say) has the following description:
Doesn’t that sound delicious?
Though I didn’t have extra-large cupcake tins (Is that really a thing?), I set out to make my own with the following recipes:
- Cream cheese frosting from Chowhound – 1/2 the recipe was the perfect amount
- Lemon cupcakes from Sally’s Baking Addiction – They have the texture of Angel Food cake
I think this was actually my first time ever making cupcakes. They are so much fun to decorate!
Since cherries are out of season, I used a can of pie cherries and used the syrup to color the cream cheese frosting. Also, I skipped the lemon zest and simply added a little extra juice.
I can see how baking and decorating cupcakes could become Hudson’s escape. Halfway through, I was having a pretty sweet time, just me and the cupcakes.
If you’re hankering for a book with an inventive way of telling a familiar story, Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler won’t just entertain, it’ll inspire you to spend some quality item with your oven.
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads.
There are things in life I was better off not knowing. Like the amount of butter that goes into a pound cake, for example.
In an effort to fulfill my goal of baking All The Food, I decided to make a lemon pound cake. Of course, I brought out my new best friend, Baking by James Peterson*. I got Baking from the library but now have it at the top of my wishlist. Each section (cakes, pies, cookies, breads, and custards) starts with the basics, then goes on to things I can only dream of one day being able to create, like cream puff pastry swans. Look and be amazed.
What I really like about Baking is the combined simplicity and details in the recipes. Like, it tells you how long to stir the stuff. Honestly, I’ve never stirred anything for longer than two minutes in my life, except for trouble. The book does expect you to have tools, like a mixer, that I don’t have in my kitchen, but such things are easy to work around.
Baking always allows me to practice two of my weakest virtues: crisis management and patience. For the lemon pound cake, it went like this:
Crisis Management: The pound cake has risen to the point of slowly overflowing and dripping batter onto the bottom of the oven that is causing smoke to mildly billow all over the house? Never fear! Just scrape it out and keep going.
Patience: The recipe says the cake tastes best if you wait days to eat it? I might have nibbled just one bite, but I wrapped the rest up and waited ’til the morning to make a lemon glaze. I was somewhat astonished by my self control.
Despite the minor debacles, the cake turned out really good. I don’t know if I’ll be making a lot of pound cakes in the future (2 1/2 sticks of butter! madness!), but I’m glad to have made it once.
Realizing that eating the entire pound cake by myself might be in conflict with other of my new year goals, I invited friends to eat it over breakfast with tea.
Good food and friends? Nothing’s better.
Weekend cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads.
*Baking‘s recipe for pound cakes didn’t call for any lemon, only zest, so I also pulled up a recipe from Epicurious for extra help.
When I discovered Diana Peterfreund would be at a Compelling Reads signing near where I was visiting friends, I was pumped.
I’ve been meaning to read her sci-fi Persuasion retelling, For Darkness Shows the Stars, for ages. What better way to kick off reading her writing than meeting the author and buying a signed copy?
But then my family’s plans changed and I ended up heading home early. Three days before the signing.
I was super bummed. But then, salvation came with Unicorn Poop.
How does mythological manure relate to anything?
Well, before her Jane Austen retelling, she wrote a Killer Unicorn series.
While saying that her “man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns” poop rainbows might be a stretch, I threw my disappointment to the wind and made some cookies.
And, to be honest, making cookies and calling them unicorn poop sounded like delightful fun.
The recipe over on Instructables is incredibly detailed, and even comes with a 45 second video for all to admire the general splendor:
Mine (below) did not, on the whole, turn out quite so enchanting. But still, it was great fun.
And who can resist sparkly cookies, after all?
Now, with the plethora of food dye I have left, I’ll have to find some more things I can color up. Ooh, maybe macaroons.
As for Peterfreund’s writing, with Christmas approaching, there’s hope for me getting a copy of For Darkness Shows the Stars yet!
(Visit Diana Peterfreund’s website to learn more about her books.)