Burnt is gooood!

Over the weekend I remarked to someone how I hate, and rarely try, recipes without pictures. How I am a visual eater, and often wish restaurants would have pictures on the  menu, to avoid disappointment! However this conversation left me feeling unadventurous and non participational. Like I felt feel in school when raised eyebrows and a sigh were the response to "can I just watch the dodge ball"...

So I decided to give it a shot, but for safety sake to go with a cookbook that I swear by, Nigella Lawson How to be a domestic goddess. 

So I went for the Burnt butter cupcakes, and for once decided to follow the recipe to the letter.

Now here is where I have a problem, descriptions are so subjective, aren't they? In this recipe it advises burning the butter to a dark golden colour.  Well what is that? Is it brown? Yellow? Midway? I think there was a ten minute debate with Bill as to what colour dark golden was, I bantered that a dark golden cake would be brown brown, but dark golden paint might be deep yellow.  We settled on a midway yellow brown and proceeded with the cake... I am therefore including this picture of the colour I decided on in case you have a similar problem!
Burnt Butter Brown Sugar Cupcakes
As per Nigella Lawson

You'll need
150g unsalted butter
125g sef raising flour
60g golden caster sugar
65g light muscavado
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 tbsp milk 

Firstly burn the butter.  Put it in a small saucepan, and stir until it turns a dark golden colour (see above) when you will take it off the heat and strain through a sieve.  There should be a nutty smoky smell off the butter.  

Now Nigella says to let the butter re-solidify, I left mine for nearly an hour and nothing so...

Allow the butter cool somewhat and then blitz with the other ingredients to a smooth batter in your processor.  

Divide into as many cases as you can, to about halfway up, and bake for 15 minutes or so, until the usual skewer comes out clean.  

Make the icing by repeating the burning of a smaller amount of butter then stirring in enough icing sugar and a bit of milk to make a sweet buttery paste.  Top the cupcakes with this and leave to harden before eating.
Personally I thought the cupcakes were okay, very very buttery though and I think next time I'll use a different icing.  The lack of picture did affect my baking, I find to have an end goal, ie this is what it should look like, makes it a good incentive to do well.  Also for more elaborate cakes, sometimes it can be too vague to simply describe how to do it... showing the final product can help you along, or allow you more freedom, depending on what you like!


Emily said...

I know exactly how you feel. I am a lover of photos in cookbooks. I think that is why I like cooking shows so much. I am partial towards Nigella's descriptions though. I love the way her recipes ramble on and for me I find that her cascading descriptions make up for a lack of photos. I also like reading cookbooks like literature so her descriptions make them much more enjoyable.

Lo said...

I have to smile when I read your post. Pictures really are worth a thousand words. :)

I'm a big fan of cookbooks with photos -- because I LOVE gawking at food. But, I've also found that cooking up recipes from books that DON'T include photos allows me to stretch my own creativity. I don't have any preconceived notions about how what I'm making SHOULD look, so I can really take the ball and run with it.

Emily -- I totally agree about Nigella's descriptions.

Ivy said...

OMG! I am so excited. I thought there was no one else like me. I too will RARELY make a recipe without a picture. COOL!

Lisa Conmara said...

yes Ivy - its is a curious thing! some people don't mind it - I do! its a visual thing!

emily - you know I can't use NIgellas how to eat at all because there are so few pictures... but I adore her Express book and use it all the time... folks and strokes!

lo - creativity is such a huge part of cooking, you're right, thats why I rarely follow recipes except baking of course, although I've noticed more and more that I am moving further and further from the recipe there too... photos in cookbook are great for inspiration!!!!