Monday, May 3, 2010

Sugar High: #CupcakeCampTO 2.0

I’m pretty sure about 200 people in the city of Toronto are still feeling the effects of all the sugar that was consumed yesterday at the second ever CupcakeCamp Toronto.

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Thirty-eight bakers. About 50 different flavours. More than 180 eaters. 2000 cupcakes. You know sugar madness was about to ensue.

Organized by the lovely Monica and Michelle, CupcakeCamp Toronto is just one of many cupcake events that have spread worldwide, with its roots in San Francisco. The event brings together cupcake lovers, bakers and eaters as we celebrate the joys, beauty and deliciousness of these little cakes that continue to be a growing trend.

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I was also present at the first CupcakeCamp Toronto back in January 2009. Anyone else who attended that event can attest to how crazy that was. No one could have predicted just how many people in the GTA were crazy over cupcakes.

Drawing from the experiences of last year, tickets were sold in advance (with all net proceeds going to the Daily Bread Food Bank) and an attendance cap was implemented. They also moved the event to a new, more central location—52 McCaul, a beautiful art gallery space right beside OCAD.

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And the bakers definitely brought their game on. With a both of both amateur and professional bakers, I was in awe at the creativity and skill level of all these bakers. Being a baker myself, I can truly understand and appreciate the attention and love that went into the detail of every one of those cupcakes.

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As I was a volunteer this year, I didn’t get a chance to mix and mingle with the crowd, and while things were crazy in the back room at first, I did manage to get a few bites here and there. Some of my highlights from the ones that I tried were the S’more cupcakes by Canice Leung (incredibly decadent without being overpoweringly sweet), Strawberry Daiquiri by Janet Burnup (the frosting was so intensely flavoured with strawberries—so fresh and light), Salted Caramel by Michelle Villagracia, and the Canadian Hostess by Krista Arndt.

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There were some incredibly visually-stunning cupcakes on show as well, including the flower pot cupcakes from Paula Carreiro, adorable sheep and lady bugs from Gillian Symington, Madalina Paul's white chocolate caramel cupcakes topped with gold flakes and a perfect sugar twirl, and Yvonne Gettin’s luxry lemon cupcakes dusted with 24-k dust (luxurious indeed!).

For my part, I made Orange Creamsicle-inspired cupcakes. When I was working on the test batch a week before, I had contemplate putting some vanilla cream in the centre of the cupcakes, but decided against it. I wanted to keep these cupcakes on the lighter side and infuse them with the flavours of a creamsicle. A few focus groups and suggestions later (thanks testers…you know who you are!!), I had

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There definitely was a moment of panic the night before as I was whipping up my buttercream. The house was hot from baking and the humidity wasn’t doing anything to help me out. Needless to say, my first batch of buttercream turned into soup once as I added the butter in. FML. Ten o’clock at night and down to my last four eggs in the fridge—I could not mess up this second batch. The buttercream didn’t turn out as nice as I would have liked, and it was still too soft to pipe, but at least it was able to hold its own spread on top of the cupcake. I merely made it a little prettier by sticker in popsicle sticks and a slice of candied orange.

The cupcakes must have gone over well, as I got an honourable mention for Best Tasting! I hope those who got a chance to try them enjoyed them, and if you didn't get a chance to try them, well, you can make a batch of them for yourself!

Go here to see some more of my photos from CupcakeCamp Toronto.

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Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 12 to 16 regular or 48 to 54 mini cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 large orange
3 tablespoons Cointreau (orange liqueur)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped, pods reserved for another use
2 large eggs

In a small bowl, add the orange zest and 2 tablespoons Cointreau. Set aside and allow the zest to soak for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard or mini muffin tins with paper liners.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix together the orange juice, heavy cream, vanilla extract and remaining Cointreau. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, vanilla seeds, and orange zest (add the soaking liquid as well) until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl.

With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the cream mixture, ending with flour; beat until just combined.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until testers inserted in the centers come out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes for regular size and 12 minutes for mini. Let cool in tins for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Orange-Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes enough for 12 to 14 regular or 48 to 54 mini cupcakes

4 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
Zest of 1 orange
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Bring a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of water to a simmer. Meanwhile, combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in a large heatproof mixing bowl. Set bowl over (not in) simmering water, and whisk until whites are warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes. Test by rubbing between your fingers; the mixture should feel smooth.

Attach bowl to a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and mixture is cooled completely, about 10 minutes. Test by touching the bottom of the bowl; it should no longer feel warm.

Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter 2 tablespoons at a time, beating to incorporate fully after each addition. Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled at this point; it will become perfectly smooth again with continued beating. After all the butter has been incorporated, beat in vanilla and orange zest.

Switch to the paddle attachment. Beat on the lowest speed to reduce air bubbles, 3 to 5 minutes. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes. (If not using the same day, transfer to airtight containers and store in the refrigerator up to 3 days or the freezer up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature; beat with paddle attachment on the lowest speed until smooth and pliable, about 10 minutes.)

Candied Orange Slices

1/2 sugar
1 1/2 cup water
7 to 8 dried orange slices, cut into eighths (or 6 to 7 slices halved, if making regular cupcakes)
1/2 cup sugar for dusting, plus more as needed

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan. Add the orange slices and boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the orange slices to parchment or wax paper to allow to cool and dry a little. Reserve the orange syrup for another use.

Allow to dry for 12 hours. Orange slices should not feel wet to the touch, but still have a bit of tackiness.

Drop orange slices into a bowl with the sugar and toss to coat, shaking off any excess sugar.

2 comments:

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite May 4, 2010 at 7:02 AM  

Thanks for the recap Bonita for those of us who couldn't be there! I love your orange creamsicle ones - bravo!!! Will definitely be there next year!

Flowers Toronto January 14, 2012 at 3:22 AM  

Great stuff...I think you've made some truly interesting points.Keep up the good work.

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