The cakes are back

Several of my favorite topics are back today: cupcakes, lard, and funny things said by Iris.

Today is Laurie’s birthday, and she requested (what else?) cupcakes. This time *I* made them: spice cakes with orange cream cheese frosting. Here’s the recipe on Epicurious. It’s for a layer cake, but I halved the recipe and it made twelve cupcakes (baked 25 minutes at 350°F). Did you know you can determine cake doneness with the Thermapen? When the cake registers 212°F, it’s done. This is an excellent recipe, a little like gingerbread without molasses, so it’s much less brown and chewy.

While I was frosting the cupcakes I had trouble making the frosting go all the way to the edge. I asked Laurie for help, and she said I probably just needed to use more frosting. So for the next cake, as a joke, I scooped up a ludicrous amount of frosting, which of course turned out to be perfect.

Derrick Schneider at An Obsession with Food has a great new post about rendering lard, with photos. His method is a little more complicated than mine but probably results in a purer end product. Schneider renders more than a half-gallon of lard at a time; he means business.

For dinner, since we were too busy eating cupcakes to cook, we got some Indian takeout from a local place. Iris, remembering Vij’s Rangoli, was very excited about this. She kept saying, “Indian food! Iris see the Indian food!” I came home with a sack of potato-chickpea curry, chicken tikka masala, naan, and vegetable pakoras. I set it out on the table and plunked Iris in the high chair.

“That’s not Indian food,” said Iris. “Indian food coming up.”