As I have mentioned before, Mom-mom’s recipes aren’t always terribly…informative. This is a good example of a recipe that required a bit of trial-and-error and some research in order to master. You’d think that a cupcake recipe would be straightforward, but you’d be wrong in this instance.
In fact, at first glance, a novice would see nothing particularly out of the ordinary with the recipe.
And, I didn’t, so I made them, just re-arranging the order of the ingredients to do wet first then dry. Everything was looking good until the end.
I made a couple of errors the first time around, resulting in cupcakes that were more cup than cake (they were sunken like fallen soufles). My first error was in trying to make them non-dairy so that Joe could eat them. I think now that maybe the almond milk just didn’t react the same way that cow milk does with the other ingredients. Cow’s milk has a pH of 6.8, so it is slightly acidic. Almond milk is alkaline. Baking soda requires an acid to release carbon dioxide to make air bubbles in the batter, so that could be why they were so flat. My second error was not adding the milk and flour correctly. You wouldn’t know it from the recipe card (!!), but you need to add them little by little in alternation. I learned that from The Cook’s Bible by Christopher Kimball. My third error was possibly not having a hot enough oven.
Given all that, I needed to try again. And this is what I came up with (this time, with regular milk).
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup Crisco
- 3 squared of semi-sweet baking chocolate
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 cup of milk (start with 2/3 cup, and add more if the batter isn’t just runny enough to drip slowly/ooze off the spoon, rather than sort of glop off the spoon)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. I recommend having an oven thermometer to make sure, since it is really important that the oven be hot enough. The second time, I had to increase my oven temp to 380 to get it hot enough.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Melt the chocolate. You can do this any way you please, but I like to melt it with the Crisco in a saucepan (just be careful that it doesn’t get to hot, or the Crisco supposedly will catch on fire!). Cream the Crisco, sugar, and chocolate. Add the eggs one at a time, beating a little after each one. Add the vanilla and beat a bit. Beginning with the milk, alternately add half the milk and half the flour, beating after each addition.
Fill your cupcake pan, and bake for 18 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick.