I’m not sure why, but I’ve spent a great deal of time in the kitchen of late—more than usual, that is; I cook about 98% of our meals and simply enjoy the process (and, of course, the results). Obviously there’s the newfound tasty giggles to be found in Jell-O molds, but I’ve been baking a lot, too.
Perhaps it’s the winter—being safely but involuntarily cooped up inside from the cold but wanting of course to stay active; maybe it’s the still-recent-to-me loss of my grandfather, occasionally stinging more deeply when a box of things from his house arrives as Dad, my aunt, and my uncle continue cleaning out his and Grandma’s home and pass things on to family members. Grandma was an amazing baker and cook, as I’ve mentioned before; it seems that most of her kitchen things are being divvied up between my aunt and I, because we’re the ones who seem to simply love being in the kitchen the way Grandma did (we are also both passionate gardeners, like Grandpa…two apples who did not fall far from the tree, to be sure). Whipping things up in Grandma Sally’s and Great-Grandma’s bowls makes me feel so close to them both—Great Grandma was a whiz in the kitchen, too—it’s as if they’re in the kitchen with me. Grandpa used Grandma Sally’s bowls after she passed 20 years ago, so…it’s just warm. Does that makes sense?
It has been bittersweet, using these new additions to my kitchen, but less bitter and more sweet every time I use them. Sometimes I wonder what Grandma would say, seeing me go about dressed and coiffed so that people at the supermarket and in church stop me to tell me I look like I’ve “stepped out of an old movie”, baking and cooking and gardening and canning; I like to think she’d smile and love it. Grandpa certainly did, as do my mom’s parents, so I guess I have to go with their verdict and guess hers would be the same, don’t I?
Maybe all of this baking and kitchen bustle of late is my way of working through the loss. Considering my genetic predisposition to this sort of thing, it does make sense, doesn’t it? And I know Grandma and Great-Grandma would be proud as Grandpa took “just two”. 😉
At any rate…all this to say that the house smells like a bakery these days (not a bad thing!) and I’ve probably put out maybe four dozen cupcakes in the past two weeks. Yes, you read that right! First a batch of strawberry cupcakes with lemon frosting that left me with an overload of the latter.
Hating to waste all of that lemon frosting, I decided to make a tea-flavoured cupcake to use it up, because as we know, lemon and tea are quite good friends indeed. A quick internet search led me to these Earl Grey Cupcakes from Edible Moments (another blog that appears dead—I sure can pick ’em!) that seemed perfect.
Of course, I use gluten-free flour (my first time using King Arthur Flour’s gluten-free flour blend); the only other change I made was to add in a quarter-teaspoon of vanilla extract for richer flavour. For the frosting, I went with the same failsafe Kraft’s Lemon Cream Cheese frosting recipe which I’d topped my strawberry cupcakes with; to this I added a bit of grated lemon peel for the pretty factor in addition to the extra punch of flavour. Also…why waste it? It always pays to be thrifty in the kitchen!
I haven’t any frosting tips; I just snipped off the corner of a zip-top bag and used that to apply the frosting in what I thought was a decent approximation of a rose (please don’t laugh).
These were quite good cupcakes, though after about three days they weren’t as soft and cakey; I’m not sure if it was the tea, too much liquid, or the new flour…or the ever-popular baker’s error. *blush* Of course, they were also three days old. 😉 That’s the problem with making cupcakes on a Friday; your husband can’t whisk them off to work for you!
I can happily recommend this recipe to you. The cupcakes were wonderfully delicious, and while baking made the house smell so heavenly you’re just going to have to bake them yourself to enjoy the fragrance and the taste. Also, my husband loathes tea—if he were dying of thirst he’d rather suffer than take a sip of tea—but even he really liked these flavourful cupcakes. Yes, the flavour is quite different at first, especially to someone living in the States where bread and even minced garlic have sugar dumped into them (yuck); they’re not overwhelmingly sweet, but in my book, that’s a big bonus. The lemon frosting on top is perfect, too, if I say so myself, but a honey frosting might do nicely as well.
I used SBS Teas‘ Earl Grey Rooibos tea, as that’s what I had on hand—trust me, I’m not getting any free tea or anything for saying this (if only!), but I’ve been buying their teas for years now. Besides, the little bits of purple flower in the tea looks so pretty in the batter. SBS’ Earl Grey de la Creme is marvellous as well and I think would also be put to good use in these little treats which are, of course, best enjoyed with a hot cup of tea at hand.
Have you done any baking this winter? Do you have any kitchen goodies from lost family members you love to cook with? One of these days I’ll have to take pictures of the precious kitchen treasures from Great-Grandma, Grandma, and Grandpa, but feel free to share yours if you like!