Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spotlight: Hilary from the Cupcake Avenger

Tell us about your blog.
My blog is The Cupcake Avenger--dedicated to all things baking, dessert and, of course, cupcake.  In addition to checking out cupcake shops in town and around the world, my blog is also dedicated to baking and desserts in general, reviews of cupcake-related news and products, and with a focus on home-baked recipes.

How did you get into blogging?
I was inspired by another friend who used to write a travel blog to catalog her trips around the world. Even though she would have been traveling anyway, the blog really helped open up with world of travel to others through her eyes.  Similarly, I was already a secret baking fanatic in my own home, and thought it might be fun to share my trials and tribulations with other home bakers, and possibly inspire others to conquer their fear of baking.
Favorite ingredient?
A tie between cardamom and hazelnuts

How would you describe DC Cuisine?
I love that DC Cuisine is so varied.  The international flavor of DC's residents really comes through in it's cuisine--you can go to any part of town and get something different every night of the week, and I love that about DC.  As for the cupcake cuisine, DC is definitely holding it's own with local-owned cupcakeries and I'm proud of that in a market inundated with corporate copycats.

What is your favorite blog post and why?
One of my favorite posts is called "Cupcake of Shame," because it's one of my more honest posts about falling in love with a cupcake from Au Bon Pain--one of those corporate copycats! :) But I love the post because it reflected my true emotions and just goes to show that we simply love the food we love, and we should embrace it!

How long have you lived in DC and how did you end up here?
I have lived in DC for 5 years after moving here for grad school at American University from Columbus, OH.

Who are your culinary inspirations?I'm really inspired by those in the culinary field who bring unique and interesting flavors into everyday use--Monica Bhide is one of my favorites, for example.  Even though her recipes are based on centuries-old dishes, she presents them in a modern and approachable way.  I try to incorporate these, even in cupcakes, with some of my favorite ingredients like coconut milk and cardamom.

What is your favorite local restaurant and why?To choose between cupcakeries, I would say it's a tie between Bakeshop in Clarendon and Penn Quarter's Red Velvet.  Red Velvet because they have a great balance between unique flavors, moist cupcakes and a perfect cake-to-frosting ratio.  Bakeshop because they are your quintessential home-style cupcake--just the way Mom would make, they are comforting in their simplicity.

Do you have a favorite cookbook?The old school Better Homes & Gardens! I got it at a half-priced bookstore back in college, but whenever I'm in a pinch it always has a recipe for whatever I need!

What are your most exciting challenges right now?Trying to find time to bake! But seriously, I am most looking forward to finally using an ice cream maker I got for Christmas that has been collecting dust.  Even though I know the flavor possibilities are endless, I just have a feeling that things won't go according to plan.

Any recipes to share?Everyone loves the quirky red velvet cake, and they're a cinch to make
Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 ounces water
2 ounces red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 cupcake cups or line with paper liners.
  2. With a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and blend well.
  4. Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring in a separate bowl and add to the butter mixture.
  5. Sift flour and salt together into the butter mixture.
  6. One at a time, add the buttermilk, vanilla, and water, mixing between each until combined.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and the baking soda. Fold it into the cake batter until incorporated but don't overbeat.
  8. Pour the batter into the cupcake cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.
  10. Cream Cheese Frosting: Blend together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth, frost cupcakes as desired.


Anonymous said...

I agree that AuBonPain has cupcakes like no other. Does your red velvet recipe posted here resemble theirs at all? I haven't found a recipe yet that satisfies.Dawn

capitalcooking said...

Try making it at home to find out;)