I’ve always loved setting goals. Ever since I was a kid I liked to plot out how each day could/would be spent, for maximum enjoyment. I’d make giant, colorful to-do lists and calendars, planning good days to have sleepovers, or how much allowance I had to save to buy an intricate hamster habitat. The older I get, the more serious some of my goals become. I want to save a certain amount of money each month to buy a condo in five years. I want to connect more with old friends through letter writing, Facebook, trips home, and birthday cards that make them feel remembered.
With the recent New Year, I’ve thought hard about ways to improve my life. As a die-hard fan of goals, calendars, and to-do lists, resolutions are of course at the top of my list. But I didn’t want to break them, not this year. I wanted sustainable goals, interesting goals that would challenge me but weren’t impossible. And that’s when I started thinking about balance. Due to my inherent obsession with accomplishments and with checking things off my to-do list, I’m not very good at keeping all the areas of my life in check.
When I first started this blog, it was with a pursuit of happiness. But I believe that I went at it all wrong. I knew that baking brought me joy so I suddenly crammed it into every available moment of free time. I went in head first, like I always do, and spent months obsessed with recipes, ingredients, and photography. To the point where I lost sight of all the little pleasures. Like how freaking cute my flower plates are with their antique ivory background and gold trim.
So this is me, starting over, with my happy little blog. I want to remember the details of why baking brings me joy. I won’t pump about six recipes in one weekend anymore. Maybe once a week, if it sounds fun. What a simple, obvious truth. That I don’t have to be tied to my own hobbies. Maybe everyone out there who reads this already knew that, but I feel utterly blessed to be swimming in my own epiphany for awhile.
The Whiteout Cake (as printed in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
2 1/2 cups of cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the white chocolate frosting:
6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
White sprinkles or white nonpareils
Preheat the over the 325 degrees F. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the egg, and beat until just combined. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water, in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake tins. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes.
White Chocolate Frosting:
Melt the white chocolate and set it aside to cool. (Put in the microwave at a high setting for 30 seconds, remove and stir. Put in for another 15 seconds, remove and stir. Repeat until mixture is completely smooth and melted.)
In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream to cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and white chocolate and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.
Make sure cupcakes are completely cool before frosting. Top with white sprinkles, powdered sugar, or white nonpareils.