I enjoyed reading about your Free Choices when I was in France, and Jenn did a terrific job of keeping the group organized and writing her mid-week roundups. She was prompter than I am this week, I must say.
The white cupcakes--the last entry from the Baby Cakes chapter--are everything a cupcake should be: tender, not too sweet, and just the right size for biting into. As Lois said, "I wasn't looking forward to this recipe - white cake, white frosting, how special can it be? I could not have been more wrong."
What made reading your reviews of this "plain white cupcake" so interesting was the variety of frostings you chose. I suggested Rose's Golden Neoclassic Buttercream, or one of the variations thereof, to give you an extra recipe to cross off your list (page 299), but many of you, including Jennifer, "rebelled."
In fact, Jennifer rebelled two ways. She frosted some with a brown sugar buttercream which she found in her freezer and realized, to her horror, that she'd had it sinced 2008! She wasn't that horrified though; she ate it and pronounced it "still pretty good." She frosted the others with lemon curd left over (only from January of this year), and discovered that the freezer had been less kind to the lemon curd than to the buttercream. Moral: eat your lemon curd while it's fresh.
Vicki, on the other hand, was quite obedient, making the Golden Neoclassic Buttercream, which she described as "probably the easiest time I've had making a buttercream." She did flavor hers with lemon oil, which gave it "a faint lemony taste," so I guess she did veer a little from the buttercream straight and narrow.
Nancy B., already in a celebratory mood as she posted her next-to-last cake, covered her cupcakes with colorful sprinkles and baked them in festive orange and yellow cups. She too had good luck with her buttercream, finding that it went "much smoother" than her attempt made earlier in the bake-through. Nancy also noted the efficient symmetry of this recipe: "This cake and frosting is a nice pairing, too, because the cake needs 3 egg whites and the buttercream takes the 3 yolks."
Lois, who thought the cake would be too plain, had the same opinion about the frosting, but was won over by her "new favorite, golden syrup," which "imparts a sweet, toffee flavor to everything it touches."
Jane. our new go-getter baker, who's determined to finish the book in a year, baked Miss Irene's Strawberry Cake along with her white velvet cupcakes (if you're going to pack 90+ recipes in a year, necessity commands you to double up on your cake baking). She topped the cupcakes with milk chocolate ganache. And she's already up to Cake #12!
Jenn had some Golden Neoclassic Buttercream stashed in her freezer from when she used it to frost Mini Vanilla Bean Cupcakes, so all she had to do was thaw it. With that speedy route to the frosting, and the fact that the cupcakes are on the Q&E list, this became "the fastest cupcake made in Knitty Baker's history." She dolled them up with strawberries--so they don't have the makeshift look that you might expect from the fastest cupcake in history.
One cake left to bake..., but we have a new baker. (I checked with Jenn, and she said "the more, the merrier). Seattle Pastry Girl's first entry is pretty as a picture, with her swirly frosting and her purple quins. (I had to look it up). Welcome, SPG!
FEATURED BAKER status goes to Katya, even though (or maybe because?) Katya bakes cupcakes even though she doesn't like to eat them. In one short blog post, Katya not only posted a picture of mouth-watering cupcakes topped with apricot buttercream, but she also managed to sneak in two great anecdotes: 1) that the last time she made these cupcakes for a bake sale, it led to a proposal of marriage from some reality TV show construction workers and 2) that her sister "told [her] she was on a health kick, then ate two." For this short and sweet post, Katya wins not only the FEATURED BAKER award, but also the Ernest Hemingway Award for Brevity in Blogging.
Our next cake is my last cake, and the cake Rose suggested we end with, the famous, or infamous, Zach's La Bomba. It's another of Rose's multiple-component, 7-page recipes (our last one was the Apple Charlotte). The hardest thing to find may be the silicone bombe mold, which does not seem to be made any longer. (I borrowed Woody's). Fortunately, a glass bowl will also work. It didn't occur to me that blackberry or black currant tea would also be hard to find. When I heard rumblings about it being inaccessible, I checked out some grocery stores--sure enough, it wasn't available in either one. If I can't find it, I think I'll just make a cup of black tea and let a few blackberries steep in it.
DON'T FORGET--THE MOUSSE MUST BE MADE AND FROZEN AT LEAST 8 HOURS AHEAD!
Although this will be my last cake, wonderful Jenn, aka Knitty Baker, will carry on. I believe she has 20-some cakes to make before she's done, and I think her plan will be to include fairly frequent free choices, since the participants aren't all going to have the same cakes left to bake. If you plan to continue participating, please leave a comment to that effect, or let Jenn know.
Here are a few pictures from our trip to France. Jim took thousands--literally--of pictures, and I've culled a few from the thousands. My feelings won't be hurt if you don't want to look at someone else's vacation photos.