The first cupcakes I made from scratch were lemon cupcakes. I guess I should have started with something a bit simpler but my big head got in the way of rational thinking...it tends to happen.
Anyway, I decided to make lemon cupcakes with a lemon cream cheese frosting. A bit ambitious but I spent many hours combing various websites to find a recipe that was simple, not too many ingredients, and relatively easy. I can't remember exactly where I got the recipe from but it was one of the simplest I found. So, shutting down my laptop and picking up my spatula, I set out to make the cupcakes.
Things were going pretty well at first. I followed the recipe to a T. Unfortunately, at this stage of my learning process, I hadn't really read up on how to mix ingredients to ensure fluffy moist cupcakes. The recipe called for mixing up the dry ingredients and then throwing in the wet ingredients and blending away. I thought that the longer I mixed, the more air would get incorporated, and the fluffier they would be and so I went to town with my little handheld mixer.
I pulled them out of the oven and they looked harmless enough. I should have taken the hint when they hadn't risen much. I made another mistake of trying one while it was still hot. I thought they tasted pretty good and was quite pleased with myself. I even started making plans for all sorts of fancy cupcakes with pretty little liners. Talk about counting your cupcakes before they're out of the oven....or something about chickens and hatching....anyway.
30 min later, they starting showing symptoms of dryness, dense-ness, and crumbiness. Yes those are all real words. I proceeded to make the icing, figuring that sugar would cure all! Unfortunately, I didn't think to bring the cream cheese to room temperature and proceeded to have a battle with the lump of cheesecake using my little handheld electric mixer as my only weapon. I don't think I need to tell you who won *blows smoke off finger gun*. I also invested in some cheap plastic tips thinking that if I stuck them in a ziplock bag, I could ice them like the pros. Oh how young and naive I was. 1 hour in and I had made a contraption out of a little purple funnel, several elastic bands, and a ziplock bag. Cake Boss would have cried.
It was late and I was tired and cranky and by this point I just wanted to ice the damn things and get to bed. I iced them as best I could and stuck on a few raspberries. Then I put them in the fridge and called it a day.
The next morning the cupcakes were extremely dense. There was pretty much no air in them and they had a buttery/eggy taste to them. The lemon cream cheese frosting tasted fine but a bit sugary. Regardless, I didn't think the cupcakes were edible at all. I had to dump the lot out. My soul cried a little. I moped a bit. Sat down with my ego and researched methods, do's and don'ts of baking and was fine the next morning.
So the lesson I learned from this episode as well as this very long post is that if you want it to be simple, you have to be willing to compromise taste. And if you don't put in the time to figure out how your ingredients work with each other, its probably not going to go well.
I'm definitely going to try to make lemon cupcakes again. I will post the recipe once it works out. Wish me luck!