Tuesday, September 1, 2009

hummingbird (cup)cakes with cream cheese frosting and caramel dipped pecans

Erin and I agreed to make hummingbird cake this weekend, a three layer banana pecan pineapple filled cylindrical tower of yumminess. That was the plan. Erin had a brunch to cater to, and she is already a veteran of Sky High. I was excited to join in the fun. Then I remembered...Erin lives in a big house with lots of people. I live in a tiny apartment by myself. There is a reason I have an affinity for small batches of cupcakes...

When I plan to bake I do a little scheduling tango like this: I look at my calendar and see if I have any social appointments, and while I do enjoy seeing my friends for their company, I also assess their propensity to eat test sweets. Many food bloggers encounter this problem. A common solution is to bring goods to the workplace. I don't do that so much. Another troubling trend I've noticed amongst food bloggers is balancing the baking with claims of triathlons and marathons. I don't know. I think I have a duty to any fledgling readers out there to be upfront about this - my theory on life is that if I need to arrive at a destination 26 miles distant from my current location, there should really be some motorized vehicle involved.

So the cake was amended to a manageable batch of cupcakes. I also wasn't sure which recipe to use, so this seemed like a better way to play around with the details. Most hummingbird cake recipes I've read include the basics: banana, pineapples and pecans. Most use all purpose flour and vegetable oil instead of butter, except for the Martha version.

I used the oil version to try the technique of sifting the sugar with the dry ingredients instead of creaming first with sugar. I also played around and added raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. When these cupcakes came out, the allspice was the first thing I tasted. In fact, it was so strong, I immediately regretted my attempted creativity and wrote these off as ruined. But I forced myself to frost them and then conned some people into eating them, and there was a surprising amount of positive feedback. I think I'll try the recipe again and adjust the spices, but I guess (by my third one in) I enjoyed eating them too. :)

Ok surprise! I went with cream cheese frosting.

I hereby solemnly promise to soon make something sans cream cheese frosting. In my defense, it is the customary pairing for hummingbird cake. To top, I made some caramel, dipped pecans in it, and placed atop frosted cupcakes.

Hummingbird Cupcakes
350 degree oven
makes 18 cupcakes

This is a conglomeration of recipes plus what I decided to throw into the bowl. These cupcakes were packed with stuff, so if you prefer a more cakey version, feel free to reduce.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cups sugar
1 /2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 vanilla
8oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup coursely chopped pecans
1/4 cup raisins

1. Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices into large bowl.
2. Add oil and vanilla to beaten eggs and mix to combine.
3. Add oil mixture to dry ingredients and mix just to combine. (I did this by folding several times with a spatula and scraping down the sides of the bowl, then quickly beating on low with a hand mixer for 15 seconds.)
4. Fold in pineapple, bananas, pecans and raisins, if using.
5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake 25-27 minutes. (Yes, that long.)

Cream cheese frosting recipe is the same as the one from red velvet cupcakes. I frosted these half heartedly, so with the same recipe I still had some frosting left after frosting 18 cupcakes. I had the idea to make a caramel drizzle sauce, but I actually messed up and made a chewy caramel. I so adapted and did the dipped pecan thing. Be creative! Top as your fancies (or errors) suit.

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