Sunday, October 11, 2009

Baking Adventure #4

This week's baking adventure is dedicated to one of my dearest and best friends in the world, Meredith!

We met way back when in 6th grade and neither distance nor time has keep us apart. She is one of those rare friends who you can go years without much communication, and then it will seem like no time has passed when reconnecting. (However, don't steal her napkin or she'll get mad at you for entire day! hehe) We both share a pet peeve for bad grammar, the desire to be as healthy as possible while still enjoying amazing food, love for good family, and most importantly... a PASSION FOR BAKING!

Meredith is an amazing decorator! I, however, am not. I prefer the more rustic baked goods as my patience for decorating is minimal. Meredith has an amazing talent that's only just begun, but her modest self would tell you otherwise... You be the judge:

[Elmo cake picture courtesy of a facebook album of hers. Hope you don't mind!]

Due to the purpose behind my passion for baking being the joy it brings to people, it seems only appropriate to dedicate this blog to her, our friendship, the joy she brings to my life, and her amazing recipe for...


This week's baking adventure is Meredith's version for Hummingbird Cupcakes. Typically, this recipe calls for a good bit of sugar and is on the unhealthy side. However, Meredith, the baking genius she is, made a healthier version that's just as delicious and not overly sweet.

What's a Hummingbird Cupcake you ask? It includes banana and pineapple in the cake batter and a (reduced fat) cream cheese frosting. Upon researching the reasoning behind the name for this cake, I came across some interesting symbolism behind and facts about Hummingbirds that coincide with our friendship as well as the way we both view life.

Pulled from, the Hummingbird is "a symbol of love, joy, and beauty. The Hummingbird is also able to fly backwards, teaching us that we can look back on our past. But, this bird also teaches that we must not dwell on our past; we need to move forward. When the hummingbird hovers over flowers while drinking nectar, we learn that we should savor each moment, and appreciate the things we love."

Everything happens for a reason, and our past shapes who we are today. Today is a gift, that's why it's called the present. Your friendship is a gift to me Meredith, and I'm so glad to have you in my life after all these years! This recipe is beyond appropriate and so let's begin the adventure...

First things first, Prep!

Next it was time to combine the dry and wet ingredients in their respective bowls and then blend together. Typically, I whisk and stir everything by hand. However, I pulled out an electric hand mixer given to me by an old friend (Thanks Carrie O!) to help speed up the process of the cupcakes. (TIP: If using an electric hand mixer, make sure you twist the bowl 360 degrees a few times while mixing in order to blend the ingredients completely.)

After the wet and dry ingredients were combined, it was time to fold in the smashed banana, crushed pineapple and some cinnamon. (Side note: I halved this recipe as I was just baking for the sake of the adventure and not for a party. It typically makes around 15-20 regular size cupcakes.)

After folding in the banana and pineapple, I spooned the batter into lined cups of the mini muffin pan. (Mini muffin sizes make it easier to share with lots of people!) If you want the cupcakes to puff up over the sides a bit, fill the cup liner up to about 7/8 of the liner itself. I highly recommend this as it creates a great shelf for holding the icing once the cupcakes have cooled.

While the cupcakes are baking in the oven, it's time to make the frosting! For me this is the best part of any cake or cupcake, and I judge baked goods based on the frosting alone if they call for it, i.e. birthday cake. If the frosting is subpar, then chances are I will not eat the cake part either. Yea, yea... maybe I'm a little judgmental but come on! Who doesn't agree that frosting is the best part?

{This is what happens when you neglect to lock the whisks into place in the electric mixer. Oopsy!}
After the frosting was prepared and the second batch of cupcakes were in the oven (I only have one mini muffin pan, so it took 4 batches to get all of the batter baked.), I began to ponder how to make the Hummingbird cupcakes a little more fun, if you will. Sure, they're going to be delicious, but we eat with our eyes first before with our mouths. The frosting was white and so were the cupcakes themselves, and to me, white on white just is a little boring. So I had an "AH HA!" moment and decided to go get some food coloring. However, I still had another batch to bake. Well, this is the adventure part...

While the 4rd and final batch was in the oven, I SPRINTED down the elevator, out the doors of my building, across the parking lot of the grocery, down the baking aisle, grabbed the food coloring, ran to the checkout (where someone yelled "RUN FOREST RUN!" to me), paid, and ran back through the parking lot, through the doors of the building, back up the elevator, and back home. Yea, I know you're never supposed to leave the oven unattended... but shhh, just don't tell anyone k? It'll be our little secret AND I arrived with about 5 minutes to spare left in the baking.

Once I got the proper coloring in the frosting (I went with orange), it was time to frost the cooled cupcakes. This is when the pretty simple cupcake recipe road turned a little curvy and bumpy. As a result of my hot kitchen (lots of heat + small areas = hot kitchen... need a better ventilation system) and the thinner frosting resulting from the food coloring, I had a bit of a mess upon piping onto the cupcakes and had to stick them in the freezer/fridge to set. These weren't the prettiest of my creations, but they were quite tasty!

After the cupcakes were baked and frosted, I was off to my first group of taste testers: the Buckhead Cigar Club family. While there, I got my second request for more Snickerdoodles and a glass of wine in trade for a cupcake! I'd say this baking adventure was a success!!!

Thanks so much Meredith for the recipe and your amazing unconditional friendship and love throughout the years! I cannot wait for N&T to become a reality!

That's it for this baking adventure! If you're curious as to the recipe, please let me know (comment section below) and I will check with Meredith and see if sharing is allowed. If not, you can always place a request in the comment section below as well and I'd gladly bake you some! ;-)

...Until the next baking adventure folks!


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  3. I love you SO much, Ashley! Thank you for the amazing dedication! I'm glad you enjoyed the cupcakes as much as I did. I can't WAIT to make N&T a reality, either :) How fun would it be to bake with a best friend all day... as a job?!

  4. Just curious, just how does one sprint down an elevator?

  5. As my dad likes to say: "Very carefully!" ;-)