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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Junk @ Home 2015 - Twinkies

Coming at you with the fourth Junk @ Home challenge of 2015. I'm a few days late, sorry!  I was out of two weeks ago and I got sick while I was away! Luckily it was just a 7-day cold and I'm nearly back to 100%. Just in time to make some knock-off Twinkies this weekend!

Lots of people have tried their own recipes for this classic snack cake. Two years ago, when Hostess was going out of business, everyone freaked out and developed their own recipe. Not being a Hostess snack cake fan, and knowing that someone would likely buy the patents and start making them again, I never jumped on the bandwagon.

This recipe was requested when I sent out the call for 2015 challenge foods. Rather than trying to replicate the flavor and texture of a classic Twinkie, I decided to create a homemade version with real world flavors. Of course I bought myself a box of snack cakes and did some taste testing. To tell the truth, I have no idea what the flavor is supposed to be. Mystery food. Franken-food.

This recipe is like an inside-out cupcake. Soft yellow cake, filled with fluffy vanilla frosting. It tastes natural, not mysterious, and delicious. This recipe won't save you any calories, but it's completely free of any preservatives. This snack cake won't last through an nuclear winter, better eat them right after they're done!

Save your money, make your own cake molds! Unless you want to make these cakes again and again. I didn't want one more piece of baking equipment to store in our little kitchen.

One Year Ago: Portuguese Sweet Bread
Two Years Ago: Olive Garden Salad Dressing & Chicken alla Carbonara
Three Years Ago: Peach Macarons
Four Years Ago: Chocolate Buttercream Truffles

Homemade Twinkies

For the Cake
Adapted from Woodland Bakery Blog

2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Prepare 8 cake molds. (I didn't want to buy a Twinkie pan, so I used the spice jar method)

Whip eggs on high for about 2 minutes. Slowly stream in sugar and continue to whip on high. Whip for about 5 minutes, until mixture is light yellow and airy. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in with a spatula. Place about 1 cup of mixture into another bowl.

Melt butter into milk over low heat. Whisk together and pour into the 1 cup of egg mixture. Whisk until everything is combined. Pour milk mixture into the remaining egg mixture, whisk together. Add vanilla extract and quickly whisk to combine.

Transfer cake batter into a container with a spout. Fill cake molds about half full. Bake cakes for 8 minutes at 350 °F before reducing the heat to 325 °F and baking for another 10-15 minutes (or until the top springs back when you gently press it).

Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Unmold the cakes and level off the bottoms with a serrated knife. Poke three holes in the bottom of the cake with a toothpick, wiggle the toothpick around and make some space inside the cake for the filling.

For the Filling
Adapted from Food & Wine

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon hot water
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup marshmallow fluff (homemade or store bought)
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

Combine vanilla extract, hot water and salt. Stir until salt dissolves.

Beat butter, powdered sugar, fluff and heavy cream together on high. Add saltwater solution and beat until smooth. Transfer frosting into a piping bag, fit with a 1/8-inch circular tip (or pop it into a zip top bag and cut a corner open). Pipe frosting into the three holes in each cake until they can take no more frosting. Place on wax paper and fill the remaining cakes with frosting.

Store cakes in an air tight container for up to three days.
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