If you are interested in making Vanilla Extract but don’t know where to begin, here’s how I did it.
First: I purchased a Vanilla Extract kit from King Arthur Flour. It was more cost effective to get the kit than to purchase the supplies separately and I trust King Arthur Flour to always provide quality products.
Second: Read all of the instructions. I know it seems simple, but if didn’t know to “split the beans in half lengthwise, leaving 1/2″ at each end intact,” your extract will be cloudy.
Third: Use an inexpensive 40% (80-proof) alcohol and don’t add water.
Fourth: Fill bottles to the top rim, covering the beans completely.
Fifth: After bottles are filled and had a good shake, add a “use after” date. I also included a “made on” date.
Last and most importantly… Patience. It takes about 2 months to make.
Cupcakes…why is it just the thought or mention of them brings a smile? They are made using the same basic ingredients as standard-sized cakes: butter, sugar, eggs and flour – so what is it? Is it the individual portion size or the cup shape that fits perfectly in our hand? Could it be the beautifully sprinkled glorious frosting? Or the pleasure we get from peeling away the paper cup liner to reveal the moist deliciousness inside? I say yes to all of the above- but, who was the baking genius behind this celebrated bliss?
Her name is Amelia.
Amelia Simmons wrote what is believed to be the first cookbook authored by an American published in the United States. As an American, Amelia understood that existing cookbooks were British and lacked common, practical recipes for the American culture. When Amelia first made “soft cakes in little pans, “she could not have imagined how much her “cup cakes” would become a part of American culture.
Amelia’s recipe (shown below) is believed to be the first ever cupcake recipe. It was included in her book, American Cookery, written in 1796.
As with all things, there is an original and versions of…
After Amelia, came Miss Eliza Leslie in 1828 with her book, Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry Cakes, and Sweetmeats. Next in 1832, Mrs. Lydia Child published her version of “cup cakes” in The American Frugal Housewife. Mrs. Child dedicated her book to “Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy.” Lastly was Mrs. M.E. Porter’s version of the “cup cake” in her book, Mrs. Porter’s New Southern Cookery Book.
So, what is it about cupcakes? Is it that cupcakes taste good? Lots of things taste good. Cupcakes don’t just taste good, they make us feel good on the inside – like a getting a hug.
Little is known of Amelia Simmons other than she was an orphan and a woman of modest means and the maker of hugs…