Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Food: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


     It bothers me when people bring in food for a final project that is not meaningful or inventive in any way.  

     I mean, people who know nothing about cooking or baking should not just decide to make food for their project and end up picking a bunch of recipes off the internet which vaguely resemble the ideas found in a book, right?  

     Let me just say that I've looked through thousands of food magazines, recipes, and blogs, and I've read cookbooks cover to cover, soaking in all the new techniques.  I've also experimented a lot in my own kitchen in order to learn skills so that I can be creative.  And I put a lot of effort into everything I bake.

    For my English project where I had to represent the 4 book units we covered over the year, I chose baked goods as my medium for conveying the themes.  

        Up there you see a representation of the first book I read in 9th grade English, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (or H2G2 for short) by Douglas Adams.  H2G2 was hilarious, by the way, and I really enjoyed reading it.  I hope you've read it before too, but if you haven't, I'll try not to spoil it in this post.  Same for the other books I'll be posting about.  

        I made a black tea cupcake with lemon honey buttercream.  I wanted to make a black tea cake to reflect the speaker's bitter outlook, as well as the randomness in the book.  Black tea is bitter and tea molecules are well known to move around randomly.  I also wanted either lemon or honey frosting, because those compliment the black tea flavor and represent themes of their own.  Lemon again symbolizes the speaker's cynical, sour tine and the honey conveys the mellow "Don't Panic" theme. 

         I remember coming across this recipe for black tea cupcakes years ago, thinking, "ew, who would put tea in a cake?"  I didn't like tea back then, though I do enjoy it now.  Surprisingly, the cupcakes turned out delicious.  They weren't overwhelmed with black tea flavor, though the tea gave the cake a nice subtle "fragrance," I should say.  The cupcakes were tender and moist, and rose beautifully.  

          The frosting was very good and hit another tone which blended with the flavor of the black tea.  There was a strong lemon flavor from the lemon juice, while the sourness was balanced by the sweet, distinct flavor of honey.  The cupcake even exceeded my expectations. 

Here's how I made the cupcakes:

Steep tea in hot milk until the milk cools.  Then remove and reserve the bags.

Sift together the dry ingredients.

Blend in pieces of butter.

Stir in the milk and fold in tea leaves.

Divvy up the batter in 12-15 cups.  
If you chose to make 12 cupcakes, the cupcakes will turn out to be very tall and domed.

Then make the frosting and frost the cupcakes when they are cool.
      I made three other baked goods, which I will share with you soon.  To give you a hint, the books are Macbeth and Oedipus Rex (combined into one dessert), Night, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

      These cupcakes would be perfect for a variety of occasions.  Darla, the author of this recipe, made it to commemorate a singer's birthday.  You could also make them just to help you get the hang of those pesky Thursdays :)  Enjoy!

Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Honey Buttercream

recipe from Bakingdom
makes 12-15 cupcakes, you may run out of frosting if you make 15


For the Cupcake:
1/2 cup hot milk
3 black tea bags
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups (180g) cake flour
3/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
For the Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (8oz, 250g) confectioners sugar, sifted
2 tbs honey
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs heavy cream
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, steep the tea bags in the hot milk for at least 10 minutes. Allow the milk mixture to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, whisk in the eggs and vanilla until combined; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the butter pieces, one at a time, then increase mixer speed to medium low. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase speed to medium and beat until well combined (about 30 seconds).
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low and add half of the milk mixture. Mix until just combined, then increase speed to medium high for about 30 seconds. Repeat with the remaining milk mixture. Fold in some black tea leaves from the tea bags, if desired.
  5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.   Bake for 18 minutes, or until the edges are light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a crumb or two clinging to it. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, Beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in half of the sugar until combined. Stir in the vanilla and honey. Beat in the remaining sugar. Add the heavy cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest, whip on high speed for 6 minutes.  
  7. Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!

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