Posted on | January 22, 2007 | 52 Comments
My mindâ€™s doing the hamster wheel thing again, cycling around and around an endless loop of what if.
What if I can take important things like my ideals, my passions, my talents and my curiosity and channel them into an entrepreneurial livelihood?
What if itâ€™s possible to connect a personally profitable business with community outreach? To educate regular folks who donâ€™t have a ton of disposable income to spend on fancy dinners at organic micro farms with famous chefs about slow food and shortening the food chain?
What if Kentâ€™s ready for a whole foods cafÃ© and bakery that serves food made with ingredients sourced within a 100 mile radius?
What if the seven other sandwich shops and bakeries with their canned soup and bagged bread and unripe tomatoes are just what the people want and my desire to feed people vibrant, ripe and creative foods is unwelcome?
What if the majority of people prefer to do all of their shopping in one stop so theyâ€™ll never even think about my cupcakes made with hormone free local butter and Amish milled flours, with real vanilla and excellent chocolate, with homemade Ganache and custard and Myer lemon curd when they can just grab the plastic pack of shortening based, trans-fat, everything from a five gallon bucket excuses for cupcakes in the grocery store bakery? And that loaf of so-called Artesian bread to go along with their Progresso Soup and the pre washed, bagged salad thatâ€™s been on a truck for a week.
What if my season doing the farmerâ€™s market was just to give me a sense of whatâ€™s going on in our community with food?
What if this is all just my raging ADHD keeping me from focusing on getting that writing career up off the ground right when thatâ€™s actually starting to happen?
What if itâ€™s the next step I need in order to write with more authority about food and community issues?
What if it’s just about doing the research and none of it ever comes to fruition?
What if I do it and end up with no time or energy left to write at all?
What if I talk about it out loud with too many people and then have to go back and tell them all that Iâ€™m still a screw-up, that itâ€™s just another pipe dream, that itâ€™s not viable and I have no money and my creditâ€™s shit so a bank wonâ€™t touch me and who do I think Iâ€™m kidding anyway?
So Iâ€™m looking for ways to keep in action. Taking copious notes. Reading that book on writing a business plan. Looking for answers. I started a knitting project to keep my fingers busy in the evenings when Iâ€™m too mentally pooped to write or read but not ready for bed.
Iâ€™m starting to test recipes, just for the hell of it. Iâ€™ve yet to find the perfect Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream, but I came pretty darned close with Billyâ€™s Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes from Billy’s Bakery the other day.
Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes about 30 cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 325Â°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.
Billy’s Vanilla Buttercream
Colored sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Makes enough for 30 cupcakes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency.
I want a good vanilla base cake to use for other flavors. The cupcakes were just a wee bit too buttery and dense for my taste so Iâ€™ll play with proportions of butter to flour next time. Maybe more cake flour and less unbleached white. Pick up some of that local butter and flour that I’m already bragging about in my head, see how that changes the chemistry.
I put almost a cup too much sugar in the frosting so it piped on almost foamy, and think I would add another half stick of butter for the right consistency and flavor. Iâ€™m not a fan of the clear vanilla and shortening needed to get that pure white icing, and with the Madagascar Vanilla I used and the grocery store butter that has yellow added, it came out looking dirtyâ€”and salty because I was out of unsalted butter. I pinked it up with a few drops of red food coloring and piped it on in giant swirls using the large star with my antique cookie press. So cheerful and inviting. So innocently pink and yummy and small, harmless really.
And responsible for the extra two pounds I put on this week.
Maybe I should just stick to testing soups and salads.