Hay Hay it’s Donna Day! November 20, 2005

Peanutcake_2 I love Donna Hay. 100%. As a food stylist, I find her work in her cookbooks and her magazine to be unparalleled. Her influence on food photography and publishing reminds me of the impact that Martha Stewart originally had. Nowadays, on my shoots, people want it to look like "Donna Hay".

So..imagine my delight when I saw a blogcontest on winosandfoodies. Donna Hay recipe challenges! Super! Where do I sign up?

Here’s the thing: I have made Donna Hay recipes in the past. Going back to that Miss Martha thing, the two women have something else in common: Sometimes their recipes are a hit…and other times…they go over like a lead balloon. When I found out that the recipe to be made were Donna’s "Self Frosting Cupcakes", I did feel a twinge of trepidation.

My first question was "What in the sam hill is a self frosting cupcake!?". The recipe calls for a denser, thicker batter than one might normally use for cupcakes. You then take whatever you’re going to use for your "frosting" (peanut butter, nutella, jam, etc.) and swirl it into the raw batter. 20 minutes later…the frosting has swirled through the body of the cake and risen to the top. Your frosting is self contained – genius, right?

Sauce_1Since I can never make things easy on myself, I decided to make two different flavors. The first batch got a swirl of Stonewall Kitchen’s Mocha Espresso Sauce. On its own, this sauce did not suck, I assure you. The consistency was a little thinner than I expected, but I figured it would be okay.

Rut roh.

My first oops was overfilling my baking cups and I think I went a little hog wild on my frosting as well. When their 20 minutes was up in the over, several of them have overflowed their banks. The sauce did provide some oozy gooeyness, though, which was a nice compliment to the rich, thick cake.

Saucecake Unfortunately, this batch wasn’t the most photogenic, to say the least. You didn’t really see any swirl. An oozy blob would be a more accurate description. Okay. Back to the drawing board (or the cutting board, one might say).

The second frosting I used was something I stumbled upon at Whole Foods – chocolate peanut butter. Those three words made me think of three other words: best thing ever. This particular peanut butter is from Peanut Butter & Co., a shop in NYC. On their website, they say they make a cinnamon raisin peanut butter, which sounds like it might be just the thing to try and make these cupcakes with.

Peanut Getting the swirl action going with a thick batter and an equally thick frosting got a little…hairy. There was lots of cupcake liner shuffling, paper getting stuck together, and uneven swirlyness. At the end, I licked the toothpick to get a taste of this heavenly frosting flavor. Eh. Not so much for me.

"You got chocolate in my peanut butter!"

"No…you got peanut butter in my chocolate!"

I digress.

When the baking was done, the frosting looked to be more of a success than the first batch. There was some hints of swirls and the frosting went through to the body of the cupcakes in some of them, as you can see from the main photo at the top of the post.

It was time for the taste test. I have to say…this recipe didn’t knock my socks off. The texture of the cake itself I think is what was off-putting to me. This is not your traditional cupcake. The whole joy of cupcakes to me is their airiness and their spongy lightness. The first gooey bite of frosting that gets all mushed up with the fluffy cake. Donna’s cupcakes are much heavier and richer, which just doesn’t do it for me the way I thought it would. The peanut butter/chocolate flavor, though, was quite good in combination with the cupcake.

All in all, though…I’m glad I gave them a go. Hay…it was a Donna Hay Day!

Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F.
Place 6oz very soft butter, 3/4 cup caster sugar, 3 eggs, 1 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour and 2 tsp baking powder in a bowl and mix, using electric beaters, until smooth.
Line 12 muffin tins with paper cases.
Spoon in the mixture and swirl 1 1/2 tsp peanut butter through each cake.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Makes 12.


barbara Nov 24, 2005 11:11 am

Hi Tami – Thanks for joining in. I wasn’t happy with my swirls until my third batch. Look out for round up this weekend.

Alicat Dec 8, 2005 03:12 pm

I had the same thoughts with my cupcakes as well! And I ended up using the “White Chocolate” Peanut Butter from PB&Company.
Oh well..off to better recipes I guess! :)