I’m currently enrolled in a food writing course and one of our latest assignments was to write our own recipe using champagne. Because I have a sweet tooth and because champagne, or the kind I like, is sweet, I instantly thought of writing a dessert recipe. One of the things I learned in this writing course is that no one will ever write an original recipe or at least it takes an extremely gifted and creative individual to craft an original recipe that no one else has ever made before. If you think you’ve created something original, chances are someone else has tried making the same thing before. But that’s not to say that you can’t try right? This is what chefs attempt to do everyday; create an original recipe that will change the culinary world as we know it.
Baking is really a science – it’s all about weights, measurements, and ratios. If you have too many egg whites, your batter will be dry. However, too many egg yolks will make your batter too runny. There are so many idiosyncrasies in baking that it can be overwhelming, but with a little research and a lot of patience, you can write your own baking recipe. Champagne is an odd ingredient to bake with, but a lot of people have done it, so the first thing I did was to think about what pairs well with champagne. Well, strawberries obviously pair well with champagne. So here’s what I came up with – strawberry champagne cupcakes. Yes, I know there’s probably a zillion recipes for these cupcakes, but I didn’t cheat – I didn’t look at or use any other recipes for references. How did I create my own baking recipe?
The first thing I did was figure out what the basic ingredients in cupcakes are: flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, butter, eggs, extract, liquid (oil, milk, water, champagne). If you look at various baking recipes, these ingredients are generally the main ones used. Sometimes you add baking soda or cinnamon or lemon zest or strawberries. The next step was to research ratios and measurements. There are two sets of formulas – one for pound cakes (they have less sugar than flour) and the other for “high-ratio” cakes (they contain more sugar). There are also different ratios for the “high-ratio” cakes (i.e. eggs = butter, sugar = flour, eggs + liquid = sugar, etc..) I chose to start off with the ratio formula in which the weight of sugar = the weight of flour. From there, I added on to my recipe.
The next step in my recipe development was to tweak it several times. My original recipe had 1 egg and 3 egg yolks. It sounded like a lot for 1 batch of cupcakes and made me nervous to be honest – to have all those yolks plus the champagne? It made me think my recipe would be too runny and would not hold together. I then decided that 2 eggs would be perfect and if during my first initial recipe testing it looked like my batter was too dry, I’d add another egg yolk. After looking over my recipe several times and buying my strawberries and champagne, I decided to proceed to the final step (i.e. the recipe testing).
To my utter amazement – I was sure something was going to go wrong – my cupcakes came out moist and flavorful! I could not have been happier with them. The chunks of real strawberries were enough to give my cupcakes sporadic little bursts of strawberry flavor as well as splashes of color. I played around with the frosting and am still perfecting that recipe. The frosting tasted absolutely decadent with pureed strawberries, cream cheese, champagne, etc… However, it was a bit too runny, and I still want to perfect that before I share it with you guys. Please try out my cupcake recipe though! If you don’t want to make your own frosting, grab some from the store. I’d love to hear your comments and feedback on this. Hope you enjoy and maybe learned a few things too!
P.S. Strawberries will be in season at the end of May/beginning of June. This recipe would be even tastier with fresh, local strawberries!
- 1 1/2 c flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 c sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
- 1/2 c champagne
- 1 c chopped strawberries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease or line a muffin tin
- Combine flour, salt, and baking powder
- In another bowl, cream butter and sugar
- Add eggs one at a time to butter mixture, beating on low speed until mixed
- Add champagne and beat on low speed until mixed
- Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated
- With a wooden spoon, gently fold in strawberries
- With an ice cream or cookie scoop, fill each muffin tin to the top
- Bake for 20 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Allow to cool completely before frosting