Baking by an Insomniac

Why do we feel the need to classify things? Sometimes I feel like classifying things is simply an excuse to limit ourselves in these pigeonholes of expectations. Why can’t we move beyond our category and become an amalgamation of randomness? Randomness is often so much more entertaining than rigidity (oddly enough that is one of my biggest issues with the restricted syllabus style of ballroom dancing). I mean, why does my blog have to be only a travel log, book review site, autobiography, baking adventures, or cultural commentary? Exactly. I think it can be all of the above and more, and in honor of this realization, I baked you all cupcakes!

Okay so I more of baked cupcakes because once again the baking bug bit and I figured that I was already in the throes of insomnia so I might as well be productive. Doing my research probably would have been a better use of my time, but definitely not as fun. And as a queen of rationalization, I’ll use the excuse that baking was productive; by trying out yet another new recipe, I could check it off of my miles long list and bring a smile to my dance partner’s face when he receives his next cupcake delivery.

I am really looking forward to going home in a few weeks, if only because I really miss using a stand mixer instead of trying to cream things together by hand. Beating butter that isn’t at room temperature yet with a fork, trying to make it smooth and fluffy, just doesn’t give as uniform a product. I’d say that I’ll have to retry all these recipes once I get home and have a better stocked kitchen, but we all know that by then I’ll be so distracted by another new recipe that the only way these will be retried is if they are requested.

Granted, if anyone back home could taste these, they would be requested again and again and again, they are that good. And what interesting flavor of cupcakes did I whip up at 11 pm last night, you ask? Can they really rival my peanut butter chocolate coma cupcakes that I made for Dan’s Super Bowl party ages ago?


1. Snickerdoodle Cupcakes!!!!!! Like the cinnamon-sugar-awesomely named cookie that I realize now I have never made before. But now I have made them in cupcake form, so maybe that counts as well.

2. Unfortunately no. But that is not because these aren’t delicious (with yet another deadly good batter and perfect cinnamon-sugar cream cheese frosting), it’s because NOTHING is better than my PBCC cupcakes. I doubt I will ever be able to make a cupcake to rival those, especially since I’m probably going to leave Red Velvet cupcakes to the experts. Dan’s story of a baking failure kind of scared me out of attempting authentic Red Velvet, especially without a modern kitchen.

I can’t wait for Dan to try these tonight and tell me his thoughts. Only then can I really learn if my cupcakes are ever as good as I think they are, or if I’m just kidding myself haha. Here’s the recipe in case anyone wants to try these at home! (I’ve been getting a few requests from people for the recipes I’ve been trying, so posting them here is easiest.) 

snickerdoodle cupcakes

Yield: 28 cupcakes

Prep Time: 25 min

Cook Time: 20 min

I halved the recipe because I ran out of cupcake liners! Time for a Tesco run?


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used all cake flour, no all-purpose)
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole milk (used skim milk…this is what happens when you don’t intend to bake but get the urge and have to modify based on what is in your almost empty refrigerator).

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted (or at least to desired consistency. I hate overly sweet frostings so I only used enough to make the frosting creamy)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons sugar + 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 28 muffin tins with paper liners.

2. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with additions of milk, beating until combined after each addition.

4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake about 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

5. Prepare frosting: In a medium bowl, use electric mixer to blend cream cheese and butter. Add sugars, vanilla and ground cinnamon. Spread onto cooled cupcakes, or scoop into piping bag and pipe on the frosting decoratively. Place sugar-cinnamon mixture in a fine sieve and tap it lightly over the cupcakes to give them a light sprinkle.


*The cake part of the cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months in an airtight container.

Enjoy! And I’ll post Dan’s comments at the end of this post once he gives me the official review 😉


5 thoughts on “Baking by an Insomniac

  1. According to Wikipedia, Joy of Cooking claims the word “snickerdoodle” is probably German, corrupted from “schneckennudeln,” literally “snail noodles” or per, “snail dumpling,” a kind of pastry. Again per Wikipedia, a different author suggests “snicker” comes from the German “schnecke,” which describes a snail shape. The word would then attach to the word “doodle,” meaning a figure or shape made by idle scribbling, or a foolish or silly person (apparently conflating the “doodle” with the “doddler”). maintains the word “doodle” is from the German “dudeltopf,” meaning “simpleton.” The word “doodle,” by the way, is influenced by the word “dawdle,” as in, a doodler is a dawdler, I suppose. So by this, a snickerdoodle is then a silly snail shape drawn by a simpleton.

    By no means does any of this interpretation cast aspersions upon the baker, or the consumer for that matter.

    Which leaves me with just one question: if “snicker” means a snail shape, then why is a Snickers bar oblong?

    Such thoughts make me snicker.


  2. Deconstructing the Snickerdoodle Cupcake:
    A Critical Appraisal

    In the panoply of baked goods that I am fortunate enough to be presented with, I scarcely anticipated being bestowed with a quintuplet of snickerdoodle cupcakes. By its very name, I was intrigued to investigate the uncharted combination of snickerdoodles and cupcakes. What would transpire during such a fateful voyage into the unknown?

    Just like Columbus, Ishmael, Magellan, Captain Nemo, and the Beatles (yes, we all live in a yellow submarine), one must first size up the journey set before them. In doing so, one becomes at least marginally aware of the treasures and perils which may beset them. This particular cakey endeavor seemed to have the following scope (approx.):

    Height: 3 cm
    Mass: 100 g
    Top Diameter: 7 cm
    pH: 7.8
    Specific Gravity (crucial for a sea-faring vessel): 0.85
    Damping Ratio (ξ) 0.4
    Central Angle Circumscribed by Frosting: pi/6 rad (or should I say cupcake/6 rad?)
    RGB: 136-068-017

    In all seriousness (psh.. ALL seriousness? That’s a rounding error), however, the cupcake consisted of a homogeneous, brown-sugar brown, porous base that appeared to be quite moist and succulent. This was topped off by an opaque, identically colored (yet cinnamon-speckled), viscous glob of frosting which had a sheen similar to wet concrete. While I recognize the description may not be the most flattering (NB: I am required by mandate to give my honest opinion), I assure you that it was still an incredibly delicious looking wet concrete glaze.

    Having fully scoped out the culinary voyage, I was finally ready to embark. As I peeled back the waxy hull, I finally bit down into the cupcake, endeavoring to obtain a representative sample of both glaze and cake. Now when it comes to frosting, icing, and glaze, some people are minimalists, preferring to enjoy the simplicity and subtlety of the cakey goodness. I, on the other hand, tend to fall into the maximalist camp. Thus, even though my taste buds first sailed through the ocean of cakey goodness, they were more rapidly drawn to the sea of heavenly glaze. In spite of my dear Partner’s complaints about creaming butter by hand, I found the glaze to be remarkably smooth, which appealed to both my senses of taste and texture. Naturally by this point I had totally forgotten about anything relating to civil engineering and my mind was merely swimming in the gloriousness of such snickerdoodley flavor.

    At last, as my brain climbed out of the pool from its swim, it returned to the job of analyzing the cakey goodness. Yes, that is a technical term, and it is entirely apt to boot. Sure enough, the cake (though rather disintegrated by this point) was light, airy, moist, and of suitable structure to support the aforementioned glaze. To my excitement, the texture definitely resembled a cupcake and not a dry snickerdoodle cookie; unlike many cupcakes, this batter did not even become dry around the edges. The cakey goodness was spongey and perfect.

    Now in comparison to other cupcake quests, this cookie-inspired treat was in a league of its own (dare I say one of 20,000?). Chocolate cupcakes can often be richer than Long John Silver and vanilla ones plainer than a flag of truce. Alas, this snickerdoodle cupcake was somewhat of a baked masterpiece, for it packed a cannon’s worth of flavour without razing your entire village of senses.

    Tragically, after only a few bites, my epic voyage was unexpectedly cut into a disappointing haiku. For, my dear readers, you must understand that what I thought would provide months of wonder and amazement swiftly came to a halt when I reached the other end of the wrapper. Sure, that would have worked fine for Odysseus and Gilligan, but I would have been quite happy to take the Davy Jones approach.

    At least now I understand why Partner’s delicious snickerdoodle cupcakes come as a quintuplet – because those five lakes sure are great! I certainly look forward to my next comission!

  3. Size up your journey? Do it with care!

    Columbus – grossly underestimated the sailing distance to Asia, would have died en route had not the New World intervened
    Ishmael – sailed with an egomaniacal sea captain who lost his vessel seeking vengeance against a white whale, survived only by clinging to a coffin
    Magellan – tried to circumnavigate the globe, suppressed a mutinous crew only to be killed later in a Filipino conflict over Christian dominance
    Captain Nemo – died of old age, but only after an obsessively reclusive, bitter and vengeful life 20,000 leagues under the sea
    Beatles – in the end, only saved by a hole in their pocket

  4. Pingback: Spontaneous London Reviews from A Day Trip | Off to Hogwarts!…oops…Oxford

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s