Friday, July 13, 2007

What do I do when it's 90 degrees and humid?




So I think the sun and the humidity have finally been getting to me. Last week, in the midst of a heat snap, I became convinced that I needed to bake. Repeatedly. At one point, I caught myself sweating in the kitchen in front of a hot oven. Irrational? Perhaps, but then again the ends could be said to have justified the means...



For movie night at Trac's house (we watched "Who Killed the Electric Car," an absolute must-see that will leave you intrigued, frustrated, optimistic, and angry at the same time) I decided to bake the simple vanilla and agave nectar cupcakes from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World." I had seen these on Textual Bulldog's blog and had had them on the brain since. When I tested one, however, I thought they tasted too plain, so I topped them with a quick chocolate ganache and sprinkles.

However, the next day, I tasted one of the cupcakes that I had left plain and guess what? After a day of resting, these cupcakes develop such a lovely flavor and texture. It tasted like an old-fashioned honey cake- dense, sweet, and floral. If you make the agave cupcakes, definitely experiment with leaving some of them plain- you'll thank yourself the next day!



The next day, I felt the need to bake- again. Cupcakes- again. This time, I took the basic chocolate cupcakes from VCTOTW, substituted coconut milk for the oil and added orange zest.



Speaking of orange zest, I keep a stash of dried organic zest like you see in the picture above in my pantry for times when I don't have fresh oranges on hand. (As you know, if you are going to use any citrus zest, it's essential that it be organic, because conventionally grown citrus fruits have large amounts of pesticide residue on their skins that can not be removed by simple washing.) I buy this zest from my local health food store, and pulverize the amount I need in a coffee grinder, it adds great flavor to muffins and breads.



The coconut milk gave the cupcakes a glossy finish and a subtle flavor. However, I couldn't decide how to decorate these cupcakes until a day later when I made the Boston Creme Pie. I simply used the leftover ganache and custard to make a fancy-schmancy pattern on top.



Ok, enough of the oven. (Even a crazy person such as myself has her limits!) I finally did something season-appropriate in the form of... ice cream. Am I the only person that's been falling in love with all of Emilie's mouth-watering ice cream creations over at the Conscious Kitchen??

After much drooling, I decided to ignore the small fact that I don't have an ice cream maker and make my own ice cream against all odds. I used my Magic Bullet to blend together some frozen mixed berries with some coconut milk and a dab of agave nectar. I then froze the mixture, taking it out to stir every 10-15 minutes for a couple of hours. The result was delicious, although I'm sure an ice cream maker would have yielded a smoother texture.

Never mind that, though, because for the past week at least, common logic had no place in my mind or my kitchen!


Share/Save/Bookmark

22 comments:

Tracy said...

Everything looks so, well, summery! Even the cupcakes you sweated so much for. I'm crzy like that too....heat will never stop me from a big bake-fest! I have to get me one of those magic bullets- I hinted pretty hard on Mother's day, but no one took the bait...

Bridget said...

Let me get this straight. You baked in the swealtering heat? I bow down to you then!

Everything looks so damn yummy, especially the ice cream! Which I am not obsessed with, but haven't gotten the courage to try yet.

Veg*Triathlete said...

Good lord this is a mouth watering post!!! Personally, I suspect the baking extravaganza is par for the course "post-raw-food" behavior.

Mihl said...

Ha, when it comes to baking, I'm irrational all the time. I guess it's a prerequisite for good baking results :D. Guess what? Temperature's are rising over here as well. After last week's 20°C they are now rising to 35°C. For these weird changes I do indeed blame global warming. I think I am going to stick to ice cream as well.

Emilie said...

oh man, i do the exact same thing...90 degrees? better bake some mini donuts. the ice cream maker is the only thing that's been saving me (and my family of furry creatures and husband what get a little peeved with the oven being on in this heat) from baking. i'm thankful that you ended on the lovely lookin' ice cream because it replaced the need to bake that your beautiful cupcake creations instilled in me with the desire to go make some ice cream...berry sounds perfect. i'm on it!

Melody Polakow said...

Gorgeous cuppers... I love the ganache/cream design... and your ice cream looks great! I can't believe it looks that good with an ice cream maker.

aTxVegn said...

Amazing looking cupcakes, Bazu! I love the Boston Creme Pie topping and keeping orange zest on hand is brilliant! Your ice cream looks just like it came out of a machine.

It's raining again here and it makes me miserable with allergies and not in the mood to do much of anything. I would give anything for sunny and 95 degrees!

Veganista said...

Bazu, these look fantastic...I must try some vegan ganache pronto! And I love the orange zest tip, will have to keep an eye out for that in health food stores here. Thanks too for your comment on the blog, I'm always thrilled to see you've visited. Hopefully the photos are fixed now--sorry about the problem!

runswithdog said...

I thought you and Daiku were nuts not liking the agave cupcakes. I thought they were stellar! Glad to see you guys came around :-)

theONLYtania said...

You are a baking machine! I love all the frosting dripping down the sides.
Thanks for the orange zest tip. I have no valid excuse for why I don't buy organic produce, but you're definitely right about the zest part. I'll remember that.
Your ice cream turned out great! It's good to know I don't REALLY need the expensive appliance to make it! I'm trying this later.. maybe even tonight!

Judy said...

Why oh why do you bake such amazing things to tempt me?! Those cupcakes look amazing, and how nice that you actually enjoy them plain too. For me, of course, I require icing...or ganache or whatever. Great photography too, love the orange zest pic.

Barbara said...

In sweltering heat, try baking in a wok. Put a couple of inches of water in the wok with a rack over it, bring to a boil, put your normally-prepared cake on the rack and cover the wok with a wok lid. Set the heat at a level that will keep a good level of steam. Start checking for doneness after the usual oven baking time. It sometimes takes a bit longer.

I've tried cake very successfully, and brownies, not quite so successful, but still better than no brownies at all!

The cake will be a bit wet on top, but it dries up and anyway it can be covered up with icing.

Carrie™ said...

I sometimes do crazy things like baking in the heat. *shrugs* Ya do what ya gotta do. If the mood strikes, then just go with it. (high fives Bazu)
All that melty, shiny chocolate has me drooling. With the end results looking like that, who could blame you for baking! YUM-MEEE!

Theresa said...

Common logic is overrated. Just think, if you had used it, you wouldn't have been eating cupcakes like that!

urban vegan said...

Ha! I baked too. Guess we're a couple of half-baked vegans... But look at the rewards. All that sweating was worth it. May I have another cupcaae, please?

KleoPatra said...

Lovin' the oven-baked cupcakes, Bazu. i want a Magic Bullet, too... Some day.

It's always wonderful to do things "differently" - to bake on a hot day or have ice cream when it's cold. Isn't it great to live in a place where we are free to do pretty much anything we want to (at least food-wise) and to enjoy the fruits of our labour in freedom?!

Your sprinkle-y cuppies are my faves. They say childhood to me, and i'm all about bein' a kid until they tell me i can't any more...

That's super that you saw the movie (and at Trac's house! Love it!) ... i really want to see that. And also "Sicko" i want to see as well.

Peggy the Veggie said...

Haha, I guess I'm just another one of those crazy baking vegans too, then... it's 30+ C and I'm making cookies and lemon squares. :)

Isil Simsek said...

Hi,
I found you through Dreena's blog.You have amazing pics here. I think I'll run to the kitchen and eat some vegan ice cream now.I esp. loved the cupcake photo.

Christina said...

I never buy zest anymore, now, whenever I buy organic citrus, I wash it well, then zest it with a microplane zester, then freeze the zest in an airtight container (old babyfood jars or glass mustard/jam jars work well), so that I always have "fresh" zest on hand.

Neva Vegan said...

Interesting to know about the zest. I do try to buy organic, but I hadn't realized that citrus was so bad.

The cupcakes look so good. Of course I'm trying to stay away from sweets so they are such a huge temptation...

Vivacious Vegan said...

I bought my ice cream maker for a sweet steal on Ebay (it was used - but it's in perfect condition and works like a champ). I don't think my freezer has been without ice cream since I got it. I've been in love with the ease and simplicity of the New Farm Cookbook's ice cream recipes - although I'm now starting to tinker with them to see just how much I can lower the fat/sugar and still have an acceptable product.

vko said...

I too have been eyeing my VCTOTW- maybe baking in the heat makes the sweltering heat & humidity feel cooler when you get outside!

And all those cupcakes so elegantly sweating their frosting off...yum.