Hi dear reader and friend. Is it okay if we chat about creativity and inspiration?
Sometimes I end up falling into a slump when work becomes stagnant or when there are a lot of personal life-stuff things that distract my daily flow. I can feel myself sliding down the slope into the valley every time. And the walls bordering the valley keep growing taller and taller making it seem like an impossible task to climb back up.
This space is supposed to be my way out when things like that happen. My personal kitchen and the food and blogging community together are generally nourishing to my creative spark that inspires me to keep pushing the boundaries at work and be an overall happier person.
Lately, it’s as if I have glasses on that are constantly fogging, reducing my visibility or I’m standing in quicksand holding my feet still when I try to move. And while I’m generally especially good at segmenting parts of my life off and focusing on what I need to focus on, the corners of my mind are gunked up with this other garbage.
When that happens, I find it very difficult to get back to where I need to be. I get a little sad.
That negative feedback loop is dreadful for a creativity-based job. And for my wellbeing too. Do you see how that can be challenging? When my free white space for food inspiration is blocked, I start to panic.
Trying times calls for happy baking. AKA Molly’s legendary Funfetti cake. Her words and recipes generally do a good job of cheering me up in general. And while these babes didn’t quite do the trick of pulling me out of my slump, I think they’re a step in the right direction. They made a dent. Aren’t they so fun?
I actually wrote this post last night if you’re reading it the day it went live. I kept putting it off until the last minute hoping I would get some writing inspiration. Then I realized that this space can be whatever I need it to be at the time. So I decided to talk to you.
What do you guys use to cheer you up or recharge yourselves creatively? Sometimes I find it hard to pivot so easily.
I’m going to leave it there with some sprinkle-y photos and a bit of science as a parting gift before the recipe. I cannot believe that I don’t have a bit on the science behind cake flour, so I’ll have to do a future post as a more comprehensive build. But cake flour should be your go-to when you want a really soft crumb. Cake flour has lower gluten content than all-purpose and a much lower gluten content than bread flour. That means there’s more starch giving you a very soft texture. (In fact, this cake has cornstarch added for a suuuuper soft crumb) However, the reduced gluten means that there’s less structure propping your baked good up. Translation: never use cake flour when you want something like a complex pastry or bread.
I used an almond marzipan buttercream as the topping for these babes which is another Molly original. I like it a lot with the funfetti cake because it adds a bit of dimension to the vanilla sweetness. And if you’re looking for more recipes like this, check out the Milk Bar Confetti Cookies I posted my first year of blogging. They’re still one of the more popular recipes on the site.
Off to do some yoga or reading to recharge mentally. I can’t wait to hear from some of you on your thoughts. xo
Funfetti Cupcakes with Marzipan Buttercream
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 ¼ cups cake flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons flavorless oil
½ tablespoon clear imitation vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon whole milk
¼ cup rainbow sprinkles (artificially-colored only for best results!)
½ cup (64 g) blanched almonds
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
A pinch salt
¾ teaspoon clear imitation vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 ½ tablespoons heavy cream
- Make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the egg whites, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the bowl well. Add the oil and extracts.
- With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry mixture and milk in three alternating batches and mix until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the sprinkles until they’re evenly distributed. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, rotating them halfway through. They are done when an inserted toothpick in the center comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
- Make the buttercream. First, make an almond butter by blending the almonds in the bowl of a food processor, scraping down the sides occasionally, until very creamy, about 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and almond butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and then mix in the salt, vanilla, almond extract, and heavy cream until creamy.
- Frost the cupcakes once cool, and eat within a day or two.