(I posted this last night but there were edits so I'm re-posting it today. But it was posted yesterday. No cheating. Swearsies.)
So my brother-in-law is getting married on Friday, which should be great fun, with a photo booth, a surf rock band, yummy food, and a kick-ass wedding cake. In this day and age, however, it isn't enough to have a kick-ass wedding cake. You also need to have Options. Options for the gluten-free folks. Options for the lactose intolerant folks. And options for the vegans.
I have been tasked with making some pumpkin cupcakes for the vegans who are coming to the wedding, which sounds like a great and fun baking adventure. I love a good baking adventure. Really I do. I'm pretty good at whipping up someone's dream dessert, be it baklava or boston cream pie. You ask for it, I bake it.
But baking vegan is hard, yo. Not hard from a construction standpoint. Generally the recipes don't require a mixer, even. But hard from a flavor standpoint. A vegan cupcake, I have learned, is invariably somewhat gummy. It may also have an oddly chemical aftertaste. And don't get me started on the shortening frosting. It goes against everything in me to make frosting with shortening. I fall firmly in the "butter makes the batter better" camp.
I have a mini-vegan rant that goes along the lines of if you're giving up animal products and by-products, then why eat "fake" food? Why not just cut things that have eggs and butter and whatnot out of your diet? I wouldn't want to live in a world without baked goods. But I think the substitutes aren't very good. These cupcakes, while pretty, are not in the same zip code as the one's I'd make with eggs and butter. Not in the same country. Possibly different solar systems. Is it healthier to give up baked goods altogether if you can't have butter or eggs, or should you eat processed foods like shortening and "buttery sticks" and milk made out of things that aren't milk? I don't know--I really don't.
But here I am. I got a reasonable recipe for pumpkin muffins from my friend Kim, and let's be honest. A pumpkin cupcake is a pumpkin muffin with a frosting hat. They look very pretty, I will say that. But I'm less about pretty and more about tasty. And tasty these were not.* The were passable. With frosting they were passable. And the frosting? It is sweet, and very slightly vanilla-y. There's no depth or complexity of flavor there.
Always one for options, I also made some vegan chocolate cupcakes, and topped them with the same "buttercream." I gave a couple of each to the bride to be to let her pick. I just had my own taste-test with Mr. Bump, and it's chocolate all the way. Sorry, they're just a better cupcake. Hopefully the bride will agree with me. I'll keep you posted. And I'll post a recipe, maybe, if I'm not eaten alive by the vegans for posting this. (Ha! get it? Because vegans would never eat me! Of course they wouldn't!)
*This in no way reflects on the mad baking judgment and skilz of my friend Kim. She could out-bake me any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The failure is all mine, I'm sure.