“I made it from scratch!” by Katharyn Barrett (nee Wood)

I’m welcoming my friend Katharyn Barrett to my blog as my first guest blogger. Katharyn moved to California a few years ago and last year married an American. Here she shares some of her food experiences and a favourite recipe. Enjoy…..

Before I moved to California in September 2008 I didn’t think it important to announce to people when I cooked something that I had ‘Made it from scratch’. However here, it is important to do so as it seems that making something to eat that involves more than opening a packet and simply adding water, or placing it in the microwave is quite rare! I exaggerate to make a point, but convenience in every area of life (I discovered a drive-thru dry cleaners the other day!), ‘food’ and ‘eating’ included, does seem to be a high priority in the States. Of course, my experience is limited and I know there are people in California who love to cook and are great at it, but it does appear to me, that in every day Californian life it is not as common to cook a meal or bake something ‘from scratch’ as it is back home (England).

I didn’t used to think of myself as much of a cook, my repertoire was fairly limited and most weeks my meals would revolve around salmon, chicken, minced beef, rice, pasta and vegetables. None of the meals I made were out of the ordinary but they were fairly healthy and they tasted ok which were my main concerns. Until now.

I got married in December and my American husband (not a convenience eating American) has introduced me to a greater appreciation for cooking. He has taught me the importance of seasoning and that you should taste as you go, and that although chicken should be cooked thoroughly it should not be over cooked! Slowly but surely I am improving, but he remains chief Chef in our home at this point in time.

Although I enjoy cooking, my main love is baking. I would bake all day every day if I could. Cakes, bread, cookies I love making (and eating!) them all. I somehow feel like I can be more creative and more relaxed as I bake, so for me, it is definitely a better fit. Something I have wanted to master for sometime is the cupcake. I have tried many recipes but I did not find what I was looking for until recently. I love to make cupcakes because like I said they unleash my creative side. If you make a basic, white vanilla cupcake you can top it in 100 different ways to suit your mood or the occasion. So, I will leave you with this. My favourite vanilla cupcake recipe, adapted from www.joyofbaking.com. Enjoy!

Vanilla Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Vanilla Cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (130 grams) caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) self raising flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk

Buttercream Icing:

  • 2 cups (230 grams) icing sugar sifted
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp milk


  1. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (a food mixer is good for this job).
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well each time, mix in the vanilla extract and lemon juice.
  3. Take a separate bowl and sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Slowly beat in the flour mixture and the milk, in three additions: flour, milk, flour.
  5. Fill the muffin cups with the mixture, bake for approx 18-20 mins or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven, place on a wire rack to cool.
  7. Decorate cupcakes when they have completed cooled.

For the Icing:

  1. Cream the butter until smooth and well blended (it is best to do this with a electric whisk or food mixer).
  2. Add the vanilla extract and with the mixer on a low speed, gradually beat in the icing sugar.
  3. Add the milk and beat on high speed until icing is light and fluffy approx 4 mins.

Makes about 12-16 cupcakes

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One Response to “I made it from scratch!” by Katharyn Barrett (nee Wood)

  1. Pingback: Easter Cupcakes |

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