There are definitely hassles with having kids in two different places and it's a pain having to plan family vacations around the school schedule. But there is one advantage to having Brianna in elementary school now--I get to bake for her! The day care has a policy prohibiting outside food. They do allow for birthdays and other parties, but the items still have to be store-bought (with ingredient labels). While I understand the concerns about food allergies, it still pains me every time I have to buy cookies or cupcakes at the grocery store. I know I can do so much better! =)
As it turns out, my girls' birthdays are conveniently in close proximity to holidays. Gillian's birthday is a couple weeks before Halloween, and Brianna's is about three weeks before Valentine's Day. Somehow it works out well for them. Gillian wanted purple and orange colors for her cake. No problem--Halloween m&ms! And while Brianna has changed her favorite color to light blue, she still seems okay with the pink and red that you can find all over the place this time of year. The other day, I found some great cupcake papers decorated with hearts, and pink (raspberry) filling goes nicely with chocolate cake and frosting, both in color and flavor.
This past weekend was a busy one. I had to work Saturday, so I only had Sunday to do all the prep for Brianna's birthday, which was yesterday. She's now seven--where does the time go? It hardly seems possible that she could be that old. It feels like this was just yesterday:
Now where was I going with this? Oh, right. Busy Sunday. I needed to make Brianna's cake, since I knew I would be busy at the Peter Reinhart class as Central Market on Monday night. (More to come on both the cake and the class.) I also needed to make cupcakes for Brianna to take to school on Monday to celebrate her birthday with her classmates. And then I needed to make this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. For that, Steph of Obsessed with Baking picked Cocoa-Nana Bread. It looked like a chocolate-banana pound cake sort of thing. I had no idea how we were going to manage to eat that as well as a great big chocolate birthday cake. So being of sound mind, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I made the TWD recipe into cupcakes!
The recipe was quite easy to mix up. It's the creaming method, beating together butter and brown sugar, then adding eggs, bananas and vanilla. Then you stir in the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and baking powder) and then mix in chocolate chips. From the full recipe, I ended up with 19 cupcakes, which was perfect for Brianna's class. I baked them for 23 minutes. To make sure the cool red heart cupcake papers still looked festive, I used white papers inside them, which worked quite well. For the frosting, I used both sour cream-chocolate frosting (see this post) and raspberry buttercream (from the Perfect Party Cake, flavored with raspberry fruit butter). I used them for B's birthday cake, and didn't have a huge amount of either left, so I tried something new--I put both into the same piping bag and got swirls when I piped the frosting. Very cool!
The verdict? I only got a small taste--we had one extra, so Jamie and I split it (without frosting). I thought it was pretty good. The banana was subtle, but noticeable, at least when still warm. They struck me as more muffiny than cupcakey, but I figured that it wouldn't be a problem with frosting on top. =) Brianna reported that most of the kids in her class really enjoyed the cupcakes. The frosting was a big hit. Apparently a few didn't entirely like the cake part. I'm guessing they didn't like the banana, which Brianna didn't know about. I'm not sure if I'll make this one again or not--I'm kind of curious how it does as a loaf, but I'm not that fond of bananas. We'll see.
If you want to give this one a try for yourself, head on over to Steph's blog for the recipe. And be sure to check out the TWD blogroll to see how everyone else fared this week!