Yesterday I made a batch of banana cupcakes with vanilla and chocolate American buttercream for a friend's cookout. I've made many cupcakes in my life, but I tried a couple new, or new to me, things that I really liked. First, I had some buttermilk left over from the cupcakes so I used that in the frosting rather than regular milk, and I really liked the results. Definitely added some tang to counteract the sweetness of the powdered sugar frosting. Second, I baked the cupcakes without liners in the pan, then split them in half and put frosting in the middle and on the top, like a layer cake, and put them in the paper liners for serving so that they wouldn't slide apart. I don't recall the blog or article where I picked up that idea (maybe it was here), but I think it finally solved my issue with the cake-to-frosting ratio on most cupcakes. Plus they looked pretty cute.
As for the request for tips - I bake a lot, and I'm pretty good at it if I do say so myself. But I'm reeeeeeeally slow. For example, yesterday's normal sized batch of cupcakes, no fancy decorating or anything, took me about 2 hours. A basic batch of cookies or brownies would take me at least an hour, not counting baking time. Basically I'm not capable of "just whipping up a batch" of anything. Part of it may be I was trained to clean up as I go along, which is also kind of a necessity since my kitchen is small. So that may slow me down, but otherwise I'd just have more cleaning to do at the end, right? I'm not sure where my slowness comes in - assembling, measuring / weighing, and mixing ingredients just seems to take me a really long time. And then there's chopping nuts or chocolate. . . So I'm asking all you frequent bakers out there - any helpful tips for speeding up the from-scratch baking process? Thanks!