Lemon cupcakes with strawberry frosting await eating. (Emily Hanson/Peninsula Daily News)

Lemon cupcakes with strawberry frosting await eating. (Emily Hanson/Peninsula Daily News)

THE COOKING HOBBYIST: A used stand mixer is the perfect gift

MY MOTHER IS awesome.

I’m sure most, if not all, people think their mom is the most awesome woman on the planet, but let me give evidence for why I think that.

My mom recently bought me a Hamilton Beach stand mixer for my kitchen.

This might not sound like a huge deal to some people, but to me it was the perfect gift for no reason she could have ever gotten me.

To be fair, this mixer is not new. Far from it. We found it in an antique shop here in Port Angeles while just wandering around one day during a recent visit.

And the mixer only cost $35.

Rather than diminishing the perfectness of the gift, these two facts made it even better to me. I don’t like expensive gifts and I’d rather learn to use a stand mixer on an old one than somehow break a brand-new one.

Which I’m pretty sure I’d do.

To break in my new mixer, I went to a webpage I had bookedmarked weeks before for a recipe of lemon cupcakes with strawberry frosting.

I’ve never made cupcakes before and have only made frosting one other time, so this seemed like a good recipe to use.

I’m not sure if having the mixer really improved my baking all that much, but the cupcake ingredients came together nicely and after baking them, I came out with my most even bake ever. This is a minor miracle considering how finicky my oven is.

Making the frosting was fairly easy but then I hit a snag: How does anyone fill a piping bag without a third hand? Because I only have two hands, I pretty much got frosting all over myself but I also got enough into the piping bag to put a good serving of frosting on each cupcake.

I have since consulted a baking group I’m involved in on Facebook and learned how to do this properly.

It’s so simple I can’t believe I didn’t think of it on my own: Just place the tip of the piping bag in a glass, drap the sides of the bag over the sides of the glass and then put the frosting into the bag.

I proudly held my phone over the tray of newly frosted cupcakes, snapped my photo and then promptly dropped said phone into the frosting.

With a sigh, I cleaned the frosting off my phone and decided the cupcakes were still edible.

This was hardly my first baking clumsiness disaster and it will definitely not be my last.

I’ve so far dropped my eldest sister’s 10th wedding anniversary cake so that her son called it “the leaning tower of cake-a.”

I’ve dropped a bowl full of cookie dough so that it landed top side down and the dough hit the floor.

And I’ve burned my hand on countless baking sheets, leading me to drop freshly baked cookies on the floor. So, I knew the cupcakes were still edible.

And they were delicious.

Lemon cupcakes with strawberry buttercream by Amanda Rettke at iambaker.net

Cupcakes ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoon lemonjuice, divided

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Strawberry Buttercream ingredients

1 stick butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves (I used jam)

3 cups confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon milk

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffins tins. I just sprayed non-stick spray into each cup and spread it with a paper towel. My finished cupcakes didn’t stick to the pan at all.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In stand mixer with paddle attachment (starting on low), cream together room temperature butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add in eggs, one at a time and mix until just blended.

Add in vanilla, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and milk and mix for about 30 seconds on low. Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Remove from mixer then fold in lemon zest with spatula.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes.

Use pastry brush to brush remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice over the top of the cupcake.

Let cupcakes cool completely and dry before topping with strawberry frosting.

To make the strawberry buttercream, place butter, vanilla and jam in stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk on medium-high for 1-2 minutes, or until fully incorporated.

With mixer on low, add in sugar, one cup at a time. When mixer starts to struggle, drizzle in milk one tablespoon at a time.

After all milk as been added whisk buttercream on high for 1-2 minutes.

To make cupcakes, put buttercream in a pastry bag with a large open tip (or no tip at all, just the opening of the bag) and pipe out dollops on top of cooled cupcake.

________

Emily Hanson is a copy editor/paginator for the Peninsula Daily News. She is also a beginning baker and clumsy cook. She can be reached at 360-452-2345 ext. 560-50 or ehanson@peninsula dailynews.com.

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