Monday, 19 September 2011

There's always time to make cup cakes

Well it’s been a busy few weeks and I’ve barley found the time to cook at all, let alone write about it.
We’ve just got back (me and Paul) from a lovely weekend in Ambleside in the Lake District where we completely overindulged in food and drink.
I know it’s a bold statement, but I have to say I ate what I think was the best meal I’ve ever had in this country at Dodd’s (

The food was stunning and amazingly enough, three courses each and a bottle of wine came to less than £70. Just enough change left for a cheeky Mojito at Lucy 4 Wine Bar. I cannot wait to go again!

So back to reality and to work and life is less exciting, but tonight I wanted to take ten minutes out of trying to complete my busy list of ‘things to do’ to write about my hugely successful cup cakes.
To be honest, and I know pride is one of the seven deadly sins, I want to scream and shout about these cakes, I’m very proud of them, although my decorating skills leave something to be desired.

I baked a batch for a gathering of 14 women at my house last week and they went down a storm. I won’t pretend I made them off the top of my head, I used chef Dan Lepard’s recipe from the BBC Food website.
Cup cakes, a modern take on fairy cakes, are extremely popular these days and with The Great British Bake Off currently showing on BBC2, everyone is talking about them.

Dan Lepard is an award-winning baker and food writer who was born in Australia but uses simple and traditional ingredients to produce classic British recipes.
These cup cakes were totally scrummy and it was impossible not to eat one as soon as they were ready, even after eating the buttercream out of the bowl with a teaspoon.

My tip is, don't think about how many calories are in them (thousands!) or you’ll spend the rest of the day feeling guilty. Just indulge, or make them as a gift and share the guilt – it is well worth it, I assure you.

Cake ingredients
100g unsalted butter
250g caster or brown sugar
50ml/2fl oz sunflower oil
25g arrowroot or cornflour
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 medium free-range eggs
80ml/2½fl oz milk
100ml/3½fl oz double cream
300g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder

Buttercream ingredients
300g icing sugar
25g liquid glucose
50g condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract or other flavouring
200g unsalted butter, softened
100g baking margarine, softened
200g icing sugar
100ml/3¾fl oz double cream
few drops food colouring or flavouring
sprinkles to decorate

Preheat the oven to180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a muffin tin with cases.
Melt the butter over a low heat in a small pan, pour it into a bowl with the sugar, oil, cornflour and vanilla. Beat well until smooth, then whisk in the eggs followed by the milk and cream.
Sift and beat the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture until smooth.
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until about two-thirds full, then bake for 20-25 minute, until the top is springy to the touch. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, for the buttercream mix the icing sugar, glucose, condensed milk, flavouring and butter with an electric mixer in a bowl until smooth and light, and beat in the margarine until smooth.
In a jug, stir the icing sugar into the cream until dissolved, then add any colouring or flavouring or leave plain. Beat this mixture gradually into the butter mixture until light and fluffy. (You can prepare the buttercream in advance and keep covered in the fridge for two to three days.)

To decorate the cupcakes, use a piping bag to ice a swirl of the buttercream on top when fully cooled and decorate with sprinkles or your choice.

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