I was lucky enough to be lent this book called BabyCakes by Erin McKenna by a dear friend of mine. I was instantly lit up and greedy with thoughts of vegan cupcakes marching around my kitchen and into my mouth. What is pictured above are the vanilla cupcakes with the vanilla frosting. They do look pretty, but don’t be fooled. They are like unruly children who sit pretty for a photograph.
First, the good. I loved the photogaphy in this book. Pure food porn in it’s most glamorous, sweet and sinful form. I read over the book and got my head around the different ingredients she uses such as xanthan gum, fava bean flour and potato starch as the recipes are also mostly gluten free as well as vegan. I have no reason to go gluten free, as i don’t have any known allergies to wheat, so i was interested to see how these recipes would pan out on my tastebuds.
Now, on to the bad. The recipes are very inspiring. Kind of like seeing photographs of Miranda Kerr in swimwear and then reading that she does hatha yoga to stay fit, so you try it out and months later still don’t manage to look within an inch like Mirand Kerr. Firstly, the recipes are costly. It cost over $50 to source the ingredients for my cupcakes, now i don’t mind spending money on quality ingredients for a recipe, if the recipe pulls through. The cupcakes turned out nicely and i was very impressed with the consistency of the mixture and the quality of the cupcake itself, however she says it can last up to 3 days, i recommend eating the cupcake on the day it was baked. I tried one which i had stored in the fridge and then let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, and it wasn’t nice. It was crumbly and dry. But then, if i had a food intolerance to wheat, perhaps i would be more forgiving.
Let’s move onto the icing. The icing is icky. I say this because she has noted that this is not the recipe that she uses in her bakery, which becomes apparant when you make it. So i go ahead and make the icing, diligently pouring in my melted coconut oil and lemon juices into my magical food processor and let it sit in an airtight container for 6 hours. I go to use it and it’s still like a ‘sauce’. So i start to fret. This batch of icing contains half a jar of high quality coconut butter which i can not bear to waste. So i melt down some more coconut butter and mix it into the icing mixture. I add approximately 1/3 cup of extra coconut oil and it starts to turn into fluffy looking frosting. Relief. If only the icing mixture tasted nice. I think that using soy milk powder and soy milk takes over the taste and to be quiet frank, i don’t like it. She states that her bakery does not use soy products, so i wonder why she advocates this in her book? If i can get my greedy little fingers on some rice milk powder to go with the rice milk, i would substitute it in the icing instead of the soy products. Perhaps it would be more palatable. My love reffered the taste of the icing to be like ‘kind of off milk’. Thanks.
So that’s my gripe. Although she states to follow the recipes word for word to work out, i found that on both occassions that i used the book, i had to make tweaks and alterations. For example, i made the ginger snap cookies and they were delicious and made my house smell delicious but next time i will add some spelt flour so they are not so flat.
Overall, it’s a very visually inspiring recipe book and one that i will be buying for myself, not for the cupcake recipes but rather the cookies and the photographs. Also she provides some detailed information on the reasons why some products must be used, which i found to be useful in terms of my own knowledge bank.
If anyone else has tried some of the recipes from this book i would love for you to leave a comment on your experience. Also, if you have been lucky enough to try anything from her bakery i would love to hear your review. One day i will go to NYC and check it out for myself ;-).