Last week was a bad week. Friday, in particular, was a bad day. On Saturday, I set about putting myself in a better mood by baking some cupcakes. No, not just “some” cupcakes. A lot of cupcakes. By the end of the night, I had over 50 iced cupcakes.

But that includes a batch of cupcakes I’d made earlier in the week. A Japanese-inspired cupcake using mochiko (rice flour) and koshi-an (smooth sweet red bean paste) and topped with frosting flavored with kinako (soy bean powder).

I love these cupcakes, but that’s not surprising, because I love all of the flavors that went into it. They’re all classic Japanese sweets flavors that you can’t readily find in the States. Rice flour gives the cupcake a chewier texture, making for a different mouthfeel. The cake itself isn’t very sweet, so the paste filling (which melted nicely) lends a sweetness to it. Likewise, the frosting is cream cheese based, so it’s more tangy than sweet. Overall, it’s probably the least sweet cupcake I’ve made, which makes for a nice change.

Unfortunately, the recipe made about 30 cupcakes, which was about twice as many as I needed. Even more unfortunately, they don’t stay fresh for very long. I think that might be the rice flour that does that.

But after Friday, I needed more baking. Lots of baking. I’d been wanting to play around with classic flavors, so that’s what I did. I made a classic white cake, a classic yellow cake, and a decadent devil’s food cake.

White cake is kinda tricky, I think. For one thing, you gotta have cake flour. For another thing, it does require something more vigorous than hand-mixing. I mix almost everything by hand (simply because I hate dirtying something unnecessarily), but white cake has to be perfectly smooth and that’s hard to get done. Although these cupcakes came out pretty well, I’m probably not going to do any more white cake until I have a hand-mixer to work with.

I topped the white cupcakes with a root beer buttercream. I wanted to play with flavors a bit and bring something to the white cake that wouldn’t completely overwhelm it. It came out pretty nicely. I’ll likely do a root beer cupcake in the future, just to see how it works out.

Then I made a yellow cake. I love yellow cake. It is quite possibly my favorite flavor of cake, especially when paired with chocolate frosting, which is exactly what I did. I used Ghirardelli milk chocolate, which gave the frosting such a delicious smell. It’s a good base frosting that could be used with whatever chocolate you like.

Because I still had vanilla frosting left-over from my Easter cupcakes, I wanted to use that up on a different chocolate cake. I found a devil’s food cake recipe using buttermilk and coffee, both of which punch up the flavor and keep the cake moist and decadent.

This cake is beyond delicious. I know I said I like yellow cake best, but this cake presents a challenge. Especially when paired with a dollop of that sweet vanilla frosting. Definitely a keeper.

And after all that baking . . . I felt better. Accomplished, in a way. True, I had way more cupcakes than I could ever consume, but I felt a little less useless, a feeling that has been plaguing me since Lauren died. That, in and of itself, is success, as far as I’m concerned.

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