National Cupcake Week!

Well it’s been longer than I would have like, but with my girls back to school and into all their after school activities the days have just flown by!

So this morning I was in the local bakers to get some bread when I noticed a sign for Natioanal Cupckae Week! And as luck would have it I was asked to make some cupcakes for a friends birthday BBQ tomorrow anyway…..so birthdays and cupcakes….an excuse to play in the kitchen!

As it was a male birthday I didn’t want to get too girly on the cupcakes but wanted a more refined, sophisticated look. I think these achieved that and the taste was amazing!

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For the Zebra like cakes, I used a standard vanilla cupcake recipe but I also added the seeds from one vanilla pod to give it an extra vanilla kick and also give me those lovely specks of black from the pod throughout the cake.

The chocolate orange cakes are a recipe made from a local bakery called Bibi’s this recipe is a ever fail and the cakes are super moist. The addition of fresh orange juice to the buttercream also cuts the sweetness and makes it so much more palatable.

They were a huge hit at the party and made the centrepiece which is always pleasing!

Enjoy!

Mmmm….Mini Chocolate Cupcakes!

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Well only a week after posting about my eldest’s birthday I’m onto the next one! This time it’s my youngest daughter who turns 7! Now that really does make me feel old! My daughter decided on a “Pamper Party” for her birthday party. I don’t even think at 7 I knew what “pampering” was! When asked what type of cake she wanted……there was only one option for her….CHOCOLATE! And anyone that knows my baby girl knows chocolate makes her happy!

So along with all the pamper essentials like nail varnish, lip gloss and hairspray was the chocolate in excess….but there really is no other way with chocolate is there?

First up was the mini chocolate cupcakes. These are delightful little morsels that are perfectly bite size. The danger being you forget how many you have eaten! They are made with a basic chocolate cupcake recipe as shown here.

Basic Chocolate Sponge For Cupcakes

3 eggs
100g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder
150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla
1T whole milk

Start by beating the butter for 2 minutes in a standup mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to beat until creamy and fluffy. Next add the eggs one at a time and continue to mix after each one. (I use my Kenwood standup mixer with a rubber K-whisk attachment but you can use your hand mixer as well). Next add the flour and cocoa, mix slowly until combined then continue to mix until well incorporated and the batter is llight and airy. Finally add the vanilla extract.

Fill the mini cupcakes 2/3 full and bake in batches for 10 minutes at a fan temperature of 160F.

Chocolate Frosting

150g plain chocolate, melted and cooled
550g icing sugar
4-6 tablespoons whole milk
340 unsalted butter
1t vanilla

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water or the microwave ( if microwave be careful not to burn). Leave to cool. In a mixing bowl combine other ingredients and mix until well combined. Once the chocolate is cooled then add to mixture and blend for a good 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Check consistency, if not soft enough for piping then add more milk.

And since the Mini Chocolate Cupcakes were not quite enough for the little princess….bring on the centrepiece!! A Chocolate Orange Cake smothered in Chocolate Fudge Frosting!

For this cake I made a chocolate orange sponge ( the recipe below makes 2 x 8in round cakes so I made this recipe twice to give me a full 4 layer cake for a more dramatic effect).

Once the cake had cooled, I assembled in layers using the fudge frosting as above (I made a double batch which gave me enough for the cake and cupcakes plus some to spare).

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Once the cake is layered together I let it rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes to make sure the frosting was set and I find it makes it easier to frost. After resting I like to add a crumb coating to ensure I have the square shape I am looking for and also keeps all the little crumbs from escaping. In this case as I was piping all over the cake the crumb coating also acts as a layer so you don’t see any gaps in the rosettes.

This is the cake after the crumb coating applied, it doesn’t have to be perfect just a thin layer. Again I let it set in the fridge for 20 minutes before continuing.

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Once the cake was set with a crumb coating, I then used a piping bag with a rosette nozzle to pipe rosettes over the entire cake. It was a bit time consuming but worth it in the end I think! My advice is to only add small amounts to the piping bag at a time and keep refilling as if you are anything like me with warm hands then the frosting will start to soften in your hands making it harder to form the rosette shapes.

Finally just a few sprinkles over the top and some edible glitter and the cake was complete….a Chocoholics Dream!

The recipe I used for the cake sponge is at the bottom of this post.

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Recipe for Chocolate Orange Cake
(makes 2 x 8inch cakes)

200g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder
300g caster sugar
80g margarine (I prefer margarine to butter for this recipe)
250ml whole milk (don’t be tempted by semi-skim its just not as moist)
2 eggs (I used large size)
Zest of 2 large oranges

Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl till light and fluffy. Then add milk, flour, cocoa and eggs and beat until smooth and creamy. Finally add the orange zest and divide into 2 x 8 inch cake tins. Bake 25 minutes at 160 degrees fan assisted oven. Check for doneness with skewer.

Assemble cake as above and enjoy!

Thanks for reading
Michelle
x

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

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Now that our summer holidays are coming to an end I am starting to think about all the recipes I have saved and read over the past few months that I am looking forward to trying, adapting and of course tasting!!

This is one that I did back in the spring but I’ve made a few times now and is the perfect partner to a mid afternoon tea or coffee or a perfect amount for a dessert with friends.

I usually use a store bought lemon curd ( I like the M&S one as its quite tart and not too sweet which complements the sweetness of the cake and meringue) but you can also make your own if your feeling adventurous.

Here’s the recipe:

For the cupcakes:

100g unsalted butter
100g golden caster sugar
100g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp milk (optional)
2 eggs
1 lemon zested

Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl with an electric mixer. Gradually add the 2 eggs and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the flour until completely mixed. If mixture seems a bit thick then add the milk ( I find it depends on the size of my eggs if I need the milk or not, if using medium eggs you may need the milk but if using large eggs you may not). Once mixed, fold in the zest from 1/2 the lemon.

Pour into cupcake cases till 2/3 full. Bake at 180F until done in the centre and golden. Leave on wire rack to cool.

Once cakes are cooled, use an apple corer to remove the middle of the cake, careful not to dig down to the bottom of the case, you want a bit of cake left at the bottom to hold the lemon curd in.

Fill the holes with the lemon curd to the top of the cake and leave aside while you make the meringue.

For the Meringue:

2 egg whites
50g caster sugar
100ml water

Heat water and sugar in a small pan until it forms a sugar syrup (see tip below). Meanwhile whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Once the sugar syrup is ready, with the mixer on a low speed gently pour into the whisked egg whites in a steady stream. Keep mixing at all times – a stand up mixer works best for this to free your hands. Once all incorporated and the mixture forms a meringue texture leave to rest a few minutes.

Fill a piping bag with the meringue mixture and pipe in swirls onto the cupcakes. If you have a kitchen blow torch then use this to caramelise the meringues if not then you can pop them under a grill for a few minutes, but keep a close watch so they don’t burn.

To decorate you can use the remainder of the lemon zest on top of the meringues to add a splash of colour, or decorate any way you choose!

Enjoy!

Tip for sugar syrup: to know when your syrup is ready either use a candy thermometer or if you don’t have once then fill a glass with ice cold water take a small amount of syrup on a teaspoon and let it fall I to the glass of water. If the syrup forms a hard strand of sugar then it’s ready, if it disperses then keep boiling until the correct consistency.

Swirls of Birthday Cake

Well I can’t believe my oldest daughter has just turned 9! Where does the time go!

When searching for ideas for her birthday cake I found a brilliant blog by a lady in Canada called Sweetapolita. She makes the most beautiful cakes I have seen and her recipes and tutorials are easy to follow. This was adapted from one of her cake recipes and I followed her pastel swirl cake tutorial with my daughters choice of colours.

I made the cake into 3 layers to ensure there was enough to go around and also to give it a dramatic effect….I love the outcome although I wish I had of taken some better photos of it but time was running out!

The cake was a huge success and complemented her birthday party at Arting Around perfectly!

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We spent her actual birthday in Italy on holiday and not to disappoint we had a lovely cake made from the local bakery while there and it was just as delicious!

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