Friday was a beautiful day in Providence- the sun was shining all afternoon, people were outside playing and running around.... and my friend Blair and I were in the basement kitchen of Caswell (another dorm) locked in an intense showdown of baking skills. Typical springtime activities.
When we first met at the beginning of the semester, it didn't take long for us to realize we both thought ourselves skilled with an oven and a whisk. We talked about how we both were big fans of Food Network, and somehow we got started about Bobby's Flay's Throwdown , a show in which he challenges a local food legend every episode to see if he can't outdo their famous barbeque ribs, ravioli, German chocolate cake, etc. Before I knew it, Blair threw down the gauntlet, leaving a note outside my door one day (fyi- this should be read with the Alabama twang that, until meeting Blair, I'd never heard in person before in my lahf):
better brush up on ya' bakin' skillz, cuz it's goin' down...
So, finally, to cap off a beautiful, sun-filled week, it went down. We decided we would each make cupcakes, but didn't restrict ourselves to any particular flavor. (At the end we realized that maybe next time we should, to make it a more legit throwdown.) We also set the bake-off location as the large, newly renovated (we're talking nicer appliances than I have at home) dorm kitchen that Blair uses. So fancy. So much brushed stainless steel.
The Home Team: Lemon Apricot (AY-pricot) Blossoms, adapted from a recipe by none other than the southern kitchen belle, Paula Deen.
Blair went the citrus route, but gave it a twist with the apricot flavor. She wanted to recreate the flavors of an apricot cake her great grandmother used to make for her (playing the emotional card, eh?). Unfortunately, there was a bit of a snafu due to some packaging confusion, and Blair ended up with an interesting batter. Adding jello mix instead of pudding mix to the cake batter, it turned out a little... gelatinous. No, the batter is not moving/running in that picture...
But as you can see above, the results were still spectacular. Blair made many successful batches of mini cupcakes that tasted just like that cake. Of course, this sparked a 10 minute conversation about how both of us have realized that most of our cherished childhood memories have to do with food...
But enough fraternizing with the enemy. Back to the competition.
The Away Team: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes (see Trent's Birthday Cake for the recipe)
Because Trent's cake had been such a success, I decided to recreate it in cupcake form. I'm glad I did. A lot of the judges (our friends) felt that it was a more manageable dose of peanut butter on top of the chocolate cake. It still packed a punch, though, with its strong flavors. The smooth espresso in the cake and the creamy, sensuous peanut butter frosting led someone to call these "dark and sexy". This was to distinguish them from Blair's "cute & flirtatious" Blossoms, of course.
Next time, though, we're going to crown a winner. Better brush up, Blair.