I am always slightly surprised at the number of tweets which I see expressing hate for cupcakes. It happens more often than you might think. There are some truly bad cupcakes out there – 1/3 dry over-mixed sponge, 2/3 over-sweet, over-coloured over-processed buttercream which has been badly piped then covered with lurid sprinkles – these I dislike – but how can anyone hate a cake? Seriously, save the hatred for mass murderers, child molesters and politicians. If you do not like cupcakes then simply do not eat them, there are plenty of us willing to take the burden of consuming them on for you.
Last week was National Cupcake Week (yes I know there is a week for everything, and as cynical as I am about these things being thought up by PR and marketing departments I positively embrace the ones I approve of; cupcakes, British Cheese and chips spring to mind. In fact let’s make the last two all year round events please?)
The folks at Wilkinson (home of family value) sent me a selection of baking goodies, cute cookie cutters, piping bags and some silicone moulds. Most of the cookie cutters will be donated to Ed’s sister (the mouse one will double up as a gerbil, which will delight 8yo H). I used the set of 12 silicon cupcake cases, £2, and was pretty impressed. No stickage at all, and easy to wash. A bargain at the price and not a problem if they get lost. Having browsed the website they have some fab kit, including a children’s range at some very keen prices.
These cakes were the first time that I had made proper frosting, as opposed to buttercream, and I was very impressed. Frosting is made by beating white vegetable fat, or shortening, with icing sugar. I used Trex. I initially had a slight block about using vegetable fat, but the resultant frosting is pure white, light and fluffy, tasteless and easy to flavour and contains a darn sight less saturated fat. Another huge bonus is that initially it is far softer to work with and dries to a crust. Make a triple batch and store in the fridge in an airtight pot, it will keep for a good few weeks.
For the fudge I revisited a hot fudge sauce recipe I wrote over 5 years ago; yes I have been blogging for that long! It is a staple in the Fuss Free kitchen, wonderful when hot, poured over ice cream or cold spooned from the jar (which I am doing as I write this post!)
When mixing both cakes and frosting I used my new flexi beater on my Kenwood K-Mix, which was the only thing previously missing from it. It worked a treat, and despite making a relatively small amount of sponge, I did not need to scrape the bowl down at all.
For the fudge sauce
- 100 g Unsalted butter
- 100 g Soft light brown sugar
- 100 g Double cream
For the cakes
- 100 g butter
- 100 g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 100 g plain flour (or self raising but omit the baking powder)
- 1 scant tsp baking powder
- Pinch salt
- Splash milk
For the frosting
- 75 g / 2.5oz vegetable shortening
- 300 g / 10.5oz icing sugar
- 2 large tablespoons of fudge sauce
For the Fudge Sauce
- Add all ingredients to a sauce pan over medium heat and stir until butter melts, sugar dissolves, and mixture thickens slightly. Let cool.
For the cakes
- Add the butter or marge to a bowl, add the sugar and beat well on high speed until light and fluffy. This can take several minutes.
- Reduce the speed and add the eggs, and a spoon of the flour (this prevents the mixture curdling), once mixed gently fold in the flour, baking powder and salt. Add some milk to thin the mixture if needed.
- Spoon the mixture into cases in a cupcake pan, so each is about half full. Add half a teaspoon of fudge sauce to each one, and poke the sauce so it slightly sinks into the batter. Cover the fudge sauce with the remainder of the batter.
- Pop into pre heated oven (GM5/190C/375F) and bake for about 14 minutes – check after 12 – until done. When cooked they will be risen, springy to touch and if you poke a cocktail stick into them it will come out dry and clean.
For the frosting
- Beat the shortening until soft and fluffy, add in the icing sugar and fudge sauce, beat until doubled in volume and light and airy. Add a dab of brown food colouring if needed to give some colour.
- With a flourish pipe a swirl onto each cupcake, and sprinkle to your heart’s content.
Afternoon Tea Masterclass with Tesco Real Food
It seemed fitting during National Cupcake week to be asked by Tesco Real Food to an afternoon tea masterclass at the fab Food at 52 (who are newlyish located in Clerkenwell). We baked and baked and baked up a storm, including mini bakewell tarts, scones, Victoria sandwich black forest cupcakes, fruit tarts and salt caramel millionaire’s shortbread (surely called as that is the amount you need to pay the dentist when it pulls a filling out).
No matter how often of how many times you have made a recipe, it is always possible to pick up some useful tips at cookery school and learn something new.
- If you have hot heavy handed hands then make your scone dough in a food processor
- When making mini pastry tarts use rolled up ball of spare pastry to shape them into the cases
- For an ultra light sponge cream the butter and sugar using the whisk of your stand mixer, not the beater
- Paint the inside of pasty tarts with white chocolate before filling to stop the filling making them soggy
Tesco are currently running a baking challenge with some fab prizes to be won, see here for details, and for inspiration there are many tea parties worth of baking ideas here.
Many thanks to Wilkos for the baking kit samples, Kenwood for the flexi beater and to Tesco for a delightful evening at Food at 52 and for a lovely goodie bag.