February seventh never fails to sneak up on me, craftily covering my eyes for a brief moment of pure terror, whispering “Guess who?” with an air of barely veiled menace. It’s an unremarkable date, wedged in between real holidays and coming just at the tail end of January’s madness, which is also something I can set my watch by. It’s BitterSweet’s birthday, or blogaversary if you will, and today makes seven years on the air. Enough to stun me into uncomprehending silence, the hardest part is knowing where to go from here. 2013 does mark a clear shift though, as the sentiment morphs and mutates, it has come to mean something else at last. No longer is my disbelief surrounding the blog’s survival, because after all of the sweat, tears, laughter, and joy, it feels real. It feels permanent. Who would be so surprised that their child has made it to their seventh birthday, after all? I would hope that’s merely a happy side effect of the overall goal.
Time continues to march forward, and as a sign of growing older and maybe, just maybe, a little bit wiser, I’m no longer fighting quite as hard. BitterSweet has proven that we can all move with the current, swimming rather than being swept away, but that’s only true because of the beautiful people I’ve met on this crazy journey. My faceless online escape has effectively put me fully situated in the spotlight, more public and social than ever; it’s another aspect of the process that I’m trying not to struggle against too much.
A blog is only as good as its readers, and I do fully believe that I have the best on the web. Any other awards or accolades are a bonus. Thank you for giving me reason to keep nurturing this space, feeding my own imagination in concert. Even for those who never left a single comment or let their presence be known, I’m so grateful that there’s someone out there reading. Thank you, thank you.
And so we move on, because who could be too surprised about something as predictably scheduled as a birthday? This wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last. For today, I’d be delighted to offer up a few party favors, starting with a big cookbook giveaway. Sharing books that I’ve reviewed and loved, I would be so happy to spread the joy and good food that they brought me. Up for offer are a single copy each of…
If any of those titles caught your eye, leave me a comment detailing exactly which one you’d most want to win before this time next week, February 14th at midnight EST. Consider it an extra little dose of love, in case Valentine’s Day doesn’t quite deliver. Unfortunately, I must restrict this to residents of the US and Canada only for shipping purposes. There will be five winners in total, who will be chosen by a random number generator and contacted shortly thereafter.
UPDATE: It’s all over folks! The five lucky winners are as follows…
Thanks for playing everyone! Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait another year for more giveaways… Keep your eyes peeled for more fun and freebies, coming soon.
In the meantime, what kind of birthday party would it be without a bit of cake? Since this is really all about you, my dear readers, I thought I would give out what the majority seems to want. Shockingly, despite my willingness to combine some crazy flavors and intricate treats, it’s still the easy, the classic, and the comforting that get all the attention. Thus, it’s about time I hit another staple out of the park, perfecting it into something that I would still want to eat in all of its unfussy glory.
Yellow vanilla cake, topped with dense chocolate fudge frosting, is about as classic as it gets. Rather than using the typical eggs and butter to impart that iconic golden hue, my cakes are tinted through a combination of turmeric and Yukon gold potatoes. Enriched and ultra-moist thanks to that tuber addition, the crumb is fluffy, tender, but sturdy enough to be baked into layers and stacked as well. It’s the birthday cake you always hope for but never quite get.
Well, this is for you, my friends. Thank you for making this birthday, and all the rest, possible.
Classic Yellow Cupcakes
3 Cups Cake Flour
1/2 Cup Potato Starch
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Turmeric
1 Cup Super-Smooth Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
6 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine, Melted and Cooled
1/4 Cup Canola Oil
1 2/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups Plain Non-Dairy Milk
2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
6 Ounces (1 Cup) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
6 Tablespoons Hazelnut or Vanilla-Flavored Vegan Creamer
3 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
1/2 Cup Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 Cups Non-Dairy Margarine, at Room Temperature
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 28 – 30 standard cupcake tins with papers. Alternatively, if you’d like to make a layer cake, lightly grease 2 9-inch round cake pans.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, potato starch, baking powder and soda, salt, and turmeric, fluffing up the dry goods and thoroughly combining them all. Once the mixture is homogeneous, set aside.
While the mashed potatoes are still warm, mix in the melted margarine. To get the potatoes silky-smooth and perfectly lump-free, toss them into your stand mixer and beat them mercilessly with the whisk attachment. Continue stirring while adding in the oil, sugar, and vanilla.
Separately, combine the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that everything is getting incorporated. Add half of the dry mixture into the stand mixer, along with half of the liquid. Start the machine in a low speed, and stir until mostly smooth. Finally introduce the remaining dry and wet ingredients, and mix just until the batter comes together with only a few lumps remaining. Be careful not to over-mix.
Fill the cupcake papers about 2/3rd of the way full and ease the pans into the center of your preheated oven. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes. If preparing cake layers, divide the batter equally between your two pans, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Bake until lightly golden on top, and a toothpick inserted into the centers pulls out cleanly. Let cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, place the chocolate and “creamer” in a microwave-safe dish, and heat on high for 1 minute. Let stand for 5 minutes before stirring vigorously, to allow any remaining chocolate chunks to fully melt. Keep stirring until the mixture is perfectly smooth. If stubborn lumps remain, heat at additional intervals of 30 seconds until, stirring thoroughly after each trip to the microwave. Let the chocolate stand for 10 minutes before placing it in your food processor along with all of the remaining frosting components. Pulse a few times to get everything moving, and then blend, pausing periodically to scrape down the sides. Allow 1 – 3 minutes of blending for the frosting to come together and whip slightly. Once the mixture is silky-smooth, transfer it to a piping bag and frost away!
Makes 28 – 30 Cupcakes or 2 9-inch Round Cake Layers