Cupcakes and Yoga Cues = Serenityby caroline
So, as I may have mentioned yesterday, I have been in a bit of a funk lately. (No worries … the kinks are all worked out today.)
That was before these guys came into my life.
Sometimes, I like to bake when I am feeling blue and other times I like to take it out on a sweaty workout. Yesterday, I did both.
I was supposed to run three miles yesterday as a part of the first day of my training for a 10K (I am running the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay in May). But all day I kept whining about it:
“I just don’t feel like it.”
“I didn’t sleep well.”
Boo, hoo, hoo …
So, instead of going for a run and hating every minute of it, I decided to trade yesterday’s 3 miles with today’s cross-training, and do something a little more zen-like: yoga.
I’ve talked about Mandy before, and how much I appreciate her style of teaching. It turns out — her workout was exactly the prescription I needed yesterday.
One of my favorite things she says in the workout seemed to really hit home yesterday: “Your point of power is in the present moment … this is your time, just for you.”
Love that woman.
After I was done getting my “om” on, I decided cupcakes were necessary to round out this experience. (Remember: Sorry I’m not sorry.) I still had the Black Forest Cupcakes from the other day on my brain, but I wanted something vanilla this time … and with buttercream icing. I wasn’t quite sure where I was heading with this yet, but I moved to the kitchen and started to grab the ingredients I knew I would need. When I opened the refrigerator, I spotted strawberries that were ultra ripe, and made my final decision — vanilla cupcakes with a strawberry center.
I also made an executive decision to put cinnamon in the icing (it just sounded like a good idea), and swap white sugar for brown sugar à la this recipe from Jenna at Eat, Live, Run. The base recipe I used for the icing, however, was adapted from one of my favorite books: Organic and Chic by Sarah Magid. I used her recipe for Vanilla Whipped Buttercream and made a few amendments.
The vanilla batter recipe that I used came from my pre-gluten-free days. It’s a handwritten one, and if I remember correctly, it came from my childhood neighbor (I loved to bake as a teenager). It’s a good one and simple to make gluten-free.
Ah, I could taste the yum-factor already.
Here are the details, people. Most important one: You need to make these.
Strawberry Vanilla Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Icing
(Makes 24 cupcakes)
- 2 sticks of butter
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 Tbsp of vanilla
- 2 3/4 cups of gluten-free flour (I used the G-Spot Gluten Free Baking Flour Blend, but I also like Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur mixes.)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoons of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoons of salt
Strawberry Filling (Inspired by the filling in this recipe.)
- 3/4 cup of fresh strawberries, puréed with chunks
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/4 cups of cornstarch
Cinnamon Buttercream Icing
- 2 sticks of butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla
- 1/4 cup of gluten-free flour
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 12-cup muffin pans or use muffin papers to line the cups.
2. In a standing mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy (about 4 – 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, until everything is combined.
3. Combine the milk and vanilla in a small bowl, and in another bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add the milk and flour mixtures, alternating between the two until both are completely added. Mix until well combined. (Do not over-mix.)
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.
6. While cupcakes are baking, purée strawberries in a blender or food processor; allow small chunks of strawberries to remain in purée. In a small saucepan, combine purée, sugar and cornstarch. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Cool before using.
7. For the icing, cream the butter on medium speed, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon, and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 5 – 7 minutes. In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup of milk, the gluten-free flour, and the vanilla, and whisk until there are no lumps. Over medium heat, slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup milk, whisking constantly, and cook until the mixture comes to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and keep whisking for a few more minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. Immediately remove pan from heat and keep stirring until cooler (about 1 – 2 minutes). If necessary, Magid recommends placing the pan over a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, and then slowly add to butter, brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, mixing on low speed. Once completely added, increase speed to medium and mix for 3 – 5 minutes. Keep icing chilled in refrigerator.
8. When cupcakes have cooled, use a long serrated knife to cut a small hole out of the top of each cupcake and place tops aside. Place the strawberry filling in each hole (about 1 Tablespoon – 1-1/2 Tablespoons each) and then put the tops back on the cupcakes. Using a pastry spatula, spread buttercream icing evenly on each cupcake.
9. Top cupcakes with 1 -2 fresh strawberry slices, if desired.
These cupcakes are out of this world … if I do say so myself. The cinnamon buttercream is the perfect topping to the vanilla cupcake, and the fresh strawberry filling is … wow. Just completely wow.
Note: This recipe is gluten-free. (If you have allergies or food sensitivities, always check specific manufacturer’s products for allergens and/or cross-contamination issues.)
I don’t know about y’all, but I have been so incredibly busy so far this week — I can’t seem to stop going. It was 4:30 when I finally looked up from typing today and realized all I had put in my belly was a Green Monster. I kept telling myself “One more thing, one more thing …” and just got completely swept away.
How about you? What tactics do you use to help you take a break from work and be good to your body?