12.11.09

babycakes

Is everyone feeling cupcake fatigue at this point? It seems as though the world went cupcake crazy for a while. Understandable: cupcakes are delicious. I don't indulge in them too often, only because 1. I can't be bothered to bake them myself, 2. a good cupcake is hard to find, 3. nothing is worse than a mediocre cupcake, and 4. when I crave sweets, it's usually candy.

I recently decided to cut back on / cut out dairy, and while browsing cookbooks at the library I came across the Babycakes cookbook by Erin McKenna. I have never been to Babycakes, but I have heard so much about it from friends who live in New York or who visit frequently. I was intrigued by the recipes, which are dairy- and gluten-free, because some of the best cupcakes I've ever had have been vegan. I was also intrigued by the use of agave nectar as sweetener. I have too many family members with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, and I'm concerned about that; agave nectar tastes fantastic and is relatively low on the glycemic index (just a tip).

I also like the cookbook because the photography in it is so pretty! The uniforms were designed by Wendy Mullin of Built By Wendy (although the blog tells me that they have new uniforms, designed by In God We Trust)! Pretty clothes and desserts? A girl of my particular demographic and with my particular interests is powerless to resist. (I do find the celebrity endorsements sprinkled throughout a bit unnecessary, but I guess the publishers thought that food that is kind of "weird" could benefit from, I don't know, Jason Schwartzman's picture?)

I spent yesterday morning trying to track down the ingredients for vanilla cupcakes and vanilla icing. I bought agave nectar at The Big Carrot last weekend, and I had other basics (baking soda, salt, lemons, etc.) already. I bought garbanzo-fava bean flour, potato starch, coconut oil, coconut flour, and unsweetened soy milk at Whole Foods. I bought xanthan gum from the bulk food section of Noah's. Geoff bought arrowroot in bulk from Strictly Bulk. I did not find dry soy milk powder anywhere, so I cheated and bought skim milk powder in bulk. For the record, Whole Foods had everything except the elusive soy milk powder, but I tried to find some of the ingredients in bulk to save money. (EDT: the book lists resources, but a lot of the ingredients can be ordered directly from Bob's Red Mill online.)

These ingredients cost a small fortune, and even though I halved the recipe, I still went through half the containers of coconut oil and agave nectar. Still, I have most of the ingredients in my pantry now, and I feel good about how wholesome they are. It was about $50 worth of ingredients, but if I were making a cake from scratch with fresh eggs and organic milk and things like that, it would have been about the same. (I am trying to justify this expense, you see. It was not a very wise financial decision for me at the moment -- I mean, there was no occasion.)

I made the cupcakes as soon as I got home from work because I was so excited -- and I never get excited about food preparation! Of course, the cupcakes don't taste like a "regular" vanilla cupcake would, and my cupcakes aren't particularly beautiful to look at, but I love them! We ate ours accompanied by a cup of homemade chai, inspired by Melinda. Yum yum. The perfect little treat for the start of my weekend.

22 comments:

  1. They sound lovely! I used to bake cupcakes far more often, but haven't tried to make vegan ones. They're a guilty indulgence, so I try not to think too hard about all of the sugar and dairy that goes into them!

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  2. I am sitting here laughing out loud at the idea of propping Jason Schwartzman's photo next to "weird" foods to make them more appealing to my children at dinnertime. Celebrity endorsement!

    I didn't realize that Babycakes was a vegan cupcake book. That makes it way more interesting to me. I'm not vegan, but it does represent variety because, yes, one of the best cookies I ever had was a vegan cookie.

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  3. Ohhh, how interesting!

    My boss at the bakery has started making more vegan treats, which is just lovely for so many of our customers (it actually tends to owe more to allergies than a choice we ifnd!) and very often they are some of my favorite cakes! They come out nice and moist a lot of the time, which is really neat. Most of our whipped cream is actually non-dairy and we hardly ever use the regular kind, which is so funny I think!

    I'll have to check this out, and the pictures!

    Also, you're so right--it is so hard to find a good cupcake, and mediocre ones are just terrible!

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  4. I am completely getting this book based on your recommendation! Thanks Anabela!!

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  5. I'm with Jane! :)

    As someone allergic to wheat, just the concept of this book is enough to sell me on it. But dang, the idea of baking up dessert I can actually eat while wearing an adorable uniform definitely helps.

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  6. gotta love the library! now i feel like doing a little baking myself this weekend. i agree that vegan cupcakes are usually the best, we had vegan carrot cupcakes at our wedding and they were so delicious.

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  7. I don't have the cookbook but, i can vouch the cupcakes from there are good. We bought some for my son's first birthday 3 years ago

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  8. I think that probably most things could benefit from Jason Schwartzman's photo.

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  10. Anabela,

    We are so happy to hear that you enjoyed the cupcakes! Thank you so much for sharing your results. We hope you enjoy baking other recipes from the book, please keep us posted on the results (info@babycakesnyc.com)

    Love,
    BabyCakes NYC

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  11. I went on a soymilk powder quest a few weeks ago, having recently discovered the joy of vegan baking via Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, which I can't recommend highly enough, though its photography isn't as spectacular. Anyway, Essence of Life in Kensington Market carries it soymilk powder in bags and sometimes in bulk, though they were out of the bulk stuff when I went there. Should you need any exotic or otherwise hard-to-find extracts (surprisingly, maple extract fell into the latter category even though we live in Canada and should have all the maple), Essence of Life pretty well has you covered there, too.

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  12. Hi guys! Thanks so much for your enthusiasm! I'm so glad you are interested in the book, too, and I love the vegan baking love! Less eggs, more applesauce!

    I'm definitely going to get my own copy of the book. It's just so great. I feel so bad for people who have allergies and have to sit out when everyone else is indulging. There are options!

    Jackie: THANK YOU! I'll check it out!

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  13. I'm a vegan, so it's really great to know how much others are enjoying vegan baked goods. I have enjoyed a number of visits to Babycakes (the red velvet!), but having just moved to Toronto, and I can also highly endorse the vegan cupcakes at Sadie's Diner.

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  14. Caroline: The red velvet is in the cookbook! I have heard great things about Sadie's cupcakes!

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  15. hahahaha you are SO right, there is nothing worse than a mediocre cupcake!

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  16. Anonymous14.11.09

    I just bought some coconut oil too. I haven't used it yet. For sweetening baked goods brown rice syrup is great too and I've found it in the organic section at Loblaws.
    Another book you might want to check out is The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone of Clueless fame. I don't plan on becoming a vegan but I learned a lot from the book regardless.

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  17. It's difficult to move from "regular" baking into "alternative" baking, but I found Babycakes inspiring. I want to check out their bakebook (definitely doesn't hurt that they use such pretty glossy retro chic photos)!

    I came across a Babycakes recipe online whilst trying to find some gluten-free recipes and tried it out. Here's my blog entry on that experience:
    (http://buttercupped.blogspot.com/2009/11/baking-gluten-free-brownies.html)

    Thanks for sharing your "alternative" baking story!
    ~caren

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  18. Anabela, thanks for posting this! I just got the Babycakes book from the library this week, out of curiosity more than anything else. I can't wait to try some of the recipes, but I am worried about the cost of the ingredients. But...you made me feel better about it, completely.

    Also, just so everybody knows, not all of the recipes in the book are vegan, but all are gluten-free, as it says in the intro to the book.

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  19. mmmmm i am glad you found this book, i have been baking out of it for a few months now and my vegan friends are sufficiently satisfied at potlucks since they are usually the ones left out with the whole "oops, those brownies have milk in them"... line. some things in life are worth the money: good food, so dont fret!

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  20. I just had my first taste of babycakes for my bday in Sept. they were delicious but I think I like the thought of making them myself!

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  21. Der, just kidding, what I meant was that all are vegan, but not all are gluten-free. The book has a good description of the differences between gluten & spelt.

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