Lumpy Cupcake Batter

January 14, 2013

Yesterday was D's birthday.  He turned five.  Amazing.  

In honor of his big birthday I wanted to make cupcakes (as opposed to buying them at Ralph's grocery store).  Not from scratch though.  I bought Betty Crocker vanilla cake mix (gluten free) along with Betty Crocker frosting, blue sugar sprinkles, and the cupcake cups.

I dumped all the ingredients in the bowl as the box instructs: cake mix, three eggs, 2/3 cup water (I used almond milk), half cup of softened butter.  With my hand held mixer, I mix for thirty seconds on low, then two minutes on medium speed. 

I notice lumps in the batter, not sure why they are there.  I did everything I was supposed to do.  I keep mixing.  They are not going away.  I mash one of the lumps in between my fingers.  It's butter.  Why isn't the butter meshing with the other ingredients?  It was softened as instructed.

I Googled it:  "butter is lumpy in cake batter."

Of the few sites I checked out, the best explanation said that when butter is not room temperature, it will not mix well with the other ingredients.  On one site a woman said she put the cake batter through a sifter to remove the butter lumps.  I wasn't going to do that because that would remove quite a bit of the butter which is needed to make a moist cupcake.

I got a spoon and tried to individually mash the butter lumps, the larger ones at least.  That didn't work. 

I had to make a quick decision because it was almost time to go to church.  

My choices:   1)  Proceed and make the cupcakes with lumpy batter   2) Buy cupcakes from Ralph's on my way back from church, which was the easiest thing to do.  But they aren't gluten free.  (But honestly D doesn't really even eat cake, I don't need any, and The Husband will eat any type of cupcake.)   3) Go to the store now and buy more cake mix and try again, this time making sure the butter is room temperature. 

I don't know about you, but when I get it in my head to do something I want to do it.  And I really wanted to make the cupcakes, and I wasn't going to let the ingredients I already purchased go to waste.  I went to buy more cake mix.  (Looking back, I was actually spending more by purchasing more cake mix because I'd have to use three more eggs, more milk and another 1/2 cup of butter.)

Before leaving for the store, I got butter out of the fridge which hadn't hardened, but this time I cut it up, put it in a plastic container with plastic over it and placed it in front the small electric space heater in my office to be sure it was not only soft enough but that it was definitely room temperature.

The Husband and I had already decided I was driving to church separately from he and D because I was going to pick up birthday balloons on my way home.  Being behind on the cupcakes, I still had time to get to church if I left right after they finished baking.  I can frost them when I get home.

Second time around, I made sure the butter was room temperature and extra soft and decide to mix the butter and eggs together first (as suggested on a baking website), before adding the cake mix.    

Okay so after I get this second batter mixed, guess what?  Lumpy again.  Only not as bad as the first time.  (Honestly, I think it's because the butter was cheap.  I bought the store brand, and I usually buy a name brand.  I thought butter was butter but I guess not.)

Usually the box will tell you if the batter is supposed to be lumpy, but this box didn't say so.  I pour the batter into the cupcake pans and bake.

I get ready for church in the meantime, still looking forward to going.

When the cupcakes were done, I couldn't wait to taste one because I had no idea if lumpy cake batter would make an edible cupcake.

Surprisingly, they were good, but they tasted like sweet cornbread muffins (which I love by the way).   I tasted them without the frosting, but cornbread muffins with frosting?  I couldn't fathom the thought so I didn't go to church.  I went to Ralph's to buy cupcakes. 

Yes, after all of this I decide to buy cupcakes.

At Ralphs, looking at the cupcakes they are $5.99.  Normally that wouldn't seem like much, but I already have cupcakes at home.  Why am I buying these?  The ones I have at home are fine.  Just frost them as planned and get on with it.  No need in wasting money buying cupcakes.  I leave them there, get  spaghetti sauce and ground turkey for spaghetti and leave to pick up birthday balloons at another store.

I really wanted to go to church, but not going was the best decision.  Had I gone I'd have just been frustrated for being late to church, for making corn bread tasting cupcakes, for buying cheap butter, and all the running around I had to do.  (And some how, knowing me, not that I would want to, I would have found a way to blame The Husband.)

After letting the cupcakes cool and frost them, they didn't taste like cornbread muffins so much.  The Husband loved them.  D liked the frosting.  And I had my share.  Yum.

In the future, though, I will certainly use this mix as a gluten free cornbread.

In the past I would have gotten angry over this experience and felt guilty for not going to church. 

Even with lumpy cake batter a day can go well.  It was my son's birthday, and I was determined not to let anything get to me so we could celebrate it joyously.

Praise God we did.