Jaffa Cake Cupcakes

The other week, I introduced my international friend to the concept of Jaffa Cakes. Ironically, they asked the age old question: is a Jaffa Cake a biscuit or a cake? People have debated this a lot and I’m sure that there’s food-y people out there who can tell me, but I can tell you now the true answer: Who cares?! The more you debate about it, the more other people can eat while you talk about it!

Not to sound too British, but I do love a good biscuit (/cake), especially with a cup of tea! However, I have felt for a while that some snacks of this description should be incorporated into a pudding of some sort. This is the thought that created the idea, whilst food shopping, of Jaffa Cake cupcakes. They’re easy to make into cupcakes, because they’re essentially three elements: chocolate, orange curd and sponge. Even if you’re a beginner to baking, you’ll see that this isn’t a conversion that’s hard to create! And what better than a cake and a Jaffa Cake on top (that’s two puddings in one!!)

Jaffa Cake Cupcakes

Preparation time: 30-40 minutes
Baking time: 10-15 minutes
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
For the sponge:
110g (4oz) Butter
110g (4oz) Caster Sugar
2 eggs
110g (4oz) Self-raising Flour
1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Orange Marmalade (or see this recipe for 10-minute orange curd)

For the Icing:
130g Butter
500g Icing Sugar
170g Cocoa Powder
3-4 tbsp Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence

12 Jaffa Cakes for decoration

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until the mixture is fluffy.
2. Add the eggs one at a time and beat into the mixture until combined.
3. Add the flour and vanilla essence and mix until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
4. Spoon the mixture and divide evenly into the cupcake cases. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the sponge is golden and springs back when pressure is applied to it.
5. When the cupcakes have baked, set them aside to cool.
6. To make the icing, soften the butter in the microwave, then beat together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter until combined. Add the vanilla essence. Add the milk a little at a time until the icing is a good texture.
7. Once the cupcakes have cooled, using a teaspoon, hollow out a small section from the top of the cupcake and fill with orange curd/ marmalade. Replace most of the sponge back on the top of the curd/ marmalade (as if you’re putting a lid over the orange). Repeat for all the cupcakes.
8. Cover the cupcakes with the chocolate icing.
9. Cut 12 Jaffa Cakes in half, and using two halves, create a butterfly effect by placing one half on each side of the cupcake.

Handy Hints
Icing texture– this matters more if you choose to pipe your icing onto the cakes. If you do, it needs to be firm enough that the mixture holds on a spoon (i.e. it doesn’t drip off the spoon), but not too stiff that it doesn’t mix easily.
Adding the orange– for more tips on this, see this recipe.
Adding the icing– Piping the icing gives a more neat effect (and possibly adds more icing), but this works just as well with a knife and using the back of a spoon to shape.

Jaffa cake cupcakes

Jaffa cake cupcakes3

Candy Cane Cupcakes

It may seem a little too soon for some of you to be reading a Christmas recipe, but it’s definitely acceptable now because it’s December!! I love it when it reaches December because no-one can complain about me getting excited for Christmas. I love Christmas (just in case you hadn’t picked that up!) It’s such a good time of year, and I really enjoy the build-up through December. I love Christmas jumpers, hot chocolates, and most of all, Christmas puddings! We always have family over to stay for Christmas in my house, which is great because me and my mum get to bake whatever we want to, and know that it’ll be eaten quickly so we can bake something else! It’s a great excuse to bake all the things that I deem too expensive when I have to pay for the ingredients myself (ta mum!), or simply too fancy for everyday life. And what better way to spread a little Christmas spirit than by sharing some bakes?!

So, because it’s now December, I wanted to come up with a recipe that was Christmas-y but also would be good to make at uni. I actually made these cupcakes for my flatmates and also to take in for one of my lecture groups, so they’re great for spreading the Christmas joy! The idea for these cupcakes came from the leftover candy cane segments I had after making Candy Cane and chocolate lollies. These cupcakes have a mint chocolate truffle centre, and a minty buttercream topping so are not only decorated with candy cane bits, but have the great sweet mint flavour too.

Candy Cane Cupcakes
Preparation Time: 30 mins (total)
Baking Time: 20-25 minutes
Cost: £3.62

Ingredients
For the cupcakes:
165g Butter, softened
165g Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
165g Plain Flour
25g Cocoa Powder
2 tsp Baking Powder

For the mint truffle centre:
225g Icing Sugar
30g Butter
25g Cocoa Powder
2 tbsp Milk
1/2 tsp Peppermint Extract

For the mint buttercream:
140g Butter
Icing Sugar (at least 200g)
A dash of milk
Peppermint extract (to taste)
Crushed pieces of candy cane/ Christmas-coloured sprinkles to decorate

(makes 12)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs and mix until combined and smooth.
2. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined- scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to make sure it’s all combined properly.
3. Line a cupcake tray with cupcakes cases and fill the cases, spooning in the mixture until the case is about two-thirds full.
4. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the sponge springs back when pressure is applies, or until a knife or cake-tester comes out of the cupcake clean. Leave on one side to cool.
5. Whilst the cupcakes are cooling, make the mint truffle centre mixture. First, melt the butter slightly in the microwave until soft. Then, add the icing sugar and cocoa powder and mix until fully combined.
6. Add a dash of milk if needed to soften the mixture slightly, then add the peppermint extract to taste.
7. Once the cupcakes have cooled, taking one at a time, spoon out a small circle from the middle of the cupcake and extract the sponge from beneath it until you have a small hole in the middle of the cupcake. Don’t spoon too much mixture out- there should still be plenty of sponge surrounding the dip, and it shouldn’t go to the bottom of the cupcake case.
8. Once the holes have been cut in all the cupcakes, spoon a little of the mint truffle mix into each hole until it fills it to a level top.
9. Put these to one side to make the buttercream icing (preferably covered and in a place that isn’t too warm!)First, soften the butter in the microwave. Then, add the icing sugar and mix until combined. Start with equal quantities, then keep adding icing sugar until you reach a slightly stiff consistency. Add a dash of milk to create softer icing, then add some more icing sugar.
10. Add peppermint extract to the icing to taste, and mix to incorporate. Ice the cupcakes, then add crushed candy canes/ sprinkles to decorate!

Handy Hints
Even cupcakes- to get cupcakes that are the same size, try using an ice-cream scoop to make sure you have an even amount of mixture in each cupcake case (you can tell I didn’t do that!)
Filling the centres- You may have to use a teaspoon to gently press down the truffle centre into the cavity in the cupcake. Fill the hole to the top to make it an even top when you’re adding the buttercream.
Buttercream- If you’ve used margarine instead of butter to make your icing, don’t add the milk, as this will require a lot of icing sugar!

2015-11-30 21.20.57

Eton Mess Cupcakes

This bake was inspired by the British summer, which seems ironic as while I’m writing this, it’s tipping it down outside. It may be my ignorance here, but I was thinking about the fact that there doesn’t seem to be many British puddings that are summery. I feel like, as a nation, we do winter puddings very well- sticky toffee pudding, Christmas cake and, best of all, custard. The only one that really sprung to mind is Eton Mess, which is why I had the idea to combine this classic with cupcakes and see how it turned out!

Eton Mess is traditionally made with whipped cream, strawberries and meringue- ingredients that I’ve loosely incorporated into this bake. I don’t think they went too badly- I think it’s always a good sign when you take something you’ve baked to a gathering of people and find that it disappears quite quickly. I took these to my grandparents’ where they followed a main of meat, veg, gravy and Yorkshire puddings. How very British.

The other reason I was excited to try this bake was because I’d recently bought myself a duo piping nozzle (Lakeland sell them for a good price) which I really wanted to try out. I think the whole concept of ‘duo piping’ sounds very fancy, so I was quite excited at doing something very easy which would look (I hoped) quite posh! However, those of you who don’t find the concept of duo piping so enthralling, a normal piping bag will do the job just as well!

Eton Mess Cupcakes
Preparation Time: 10 mins (cupcakes) 5 mins (meringue)
Cooking Time: 10-15mins (cupcakes) 45 mins- 1 hour (meringue)

Ingredients
110g/4oz Butter
110g/4oz Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
110g/4oz Self-raising Flour
1-2 tbsp Milk
For the icing:
140g/ 5oz Butter
Icing Sugar
Dash of milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
3-4 tsp Strawberry Milkshake Powder
For the Meringue:
2 Egg Whites
100g/ 3 1/2 oz Caster Sugar
Raspberries to decorate

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a cupcake tray with cases (makes 12).
2. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.
3. Add the flour and fold in, adding a bit of milk to reach the right consistency. Fill the cases until they are about half full.
4. Bake for 10-15 mins, until golden and the sponge springs back. Put the cupcakes aside to cool.
5. Turn the oven down to 140C.
6. To make the meringue, place the egg whites in a bowl and whisk with a hand mixer on full speed until it reaches a thick consistency with peaks.
7. Add the sugar a bit at a time, whisking until the mixture is glossy.
8. Place a dessertspoon of mixture at a time on to a baking tray covered in baking parchment, then place in the oven and bake for 45 mins- 1 hour until firm and crisp.
9. While the meringues are in the oven, make the buttercream:
10. Beat the butter until soft. Add 5oz of icing sugar and mix until combined, then add a dash of milk and keep adding icing sugar until you reach a pipe-able but not too runny consistency.
11. Split the buttercream in half and add vanilla essence to one half and strawberry milkshake powder to the other.
13. Fill a duo piping bag with the different types of buttercream in different halves, then pipe onto the cupcakes, if they have cooled enough.
14. When the meringues have finished cooking, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool. When they’ve cooled, break them into pieces and sprinkle/ arrange the meringues on top of the buttercream (depending on how fancy you feel!)
15. Add a raspberry to the top of each cupcake.

Handy Hints
Turning the oven down- the meringues need to be in at a low heat, so make sure the oven has cooled down to the right temperature before putting them in.
Meringue mixture- If you’re feeling confident, a meringue mix is the right consistency if you can tip the bowl upside-down over your head and none falls out (go on, I dare you!)
Baking meringues- they are done when they’re firm and crisp, and when they lift off the baking parchment easily. If they don’t come away from the paper, they’re not cooked yet.
Buttercream- If you don’t have a duo piping bag, you could always pipe one half for each flavour!
Raspberries- I would only add fruit to the cupcakes if you’re eating them that day- if not save the fruit to put on before you serve them, as they may go soggy or go off- not a good look when your cupcakes have mouldy fruit on top of them!

Eton Mess Cupcakes

Minion Madness!

Hi everyone! This week I’m attempting to actually write this post earlier on in the week for a change, and be organised in my writing. I say this but in actual fact I’m just writing this as a way of procrastinating from writing my essay! So, Christmas is coming, which for students means only one thing… deadline madness! Because, obviously, as a student you’re not allowed to enjoy work-free holidays in order to account for the mega-long summer we get, you know kind of like karma. I’ve been set a fair bit of work over the past few weeks, which means that, naturally, I’ve been begging for any excuse to procrastinate. And what better way to procrastinate then by baking 24 minion-themed cupcakes and a 3D minion cake! I mean that’s pretty standard right? No? Must be just me then.

Really though there was a reason behind this, as it came in the form of another baking request for a birthday, this time for a flatmates’ girlfriends’ 21st. So, procrastination with a great cause- how could I resist? I took a day out of working and actually spent from 3-11pm baking like a crazed person with stuff all over the kitchen (sorry flatmates!). It was great fun though and I enjoyed the challenge of baking it all with limited resources in a uni kitchen, and with the others giving me a hand too (thank you flatmates!). I wanted to share the instructions here for how I made the cupcakes as they were actually really simple, but looked so cute!! If any of you would be interested in me posting a tutorial on how to decorate the cake, then comment and let me know and I’ll see if I can describe how I improvised it.

Minion Cupcakes

Decorating Time: 30-40 minutes (but could probably be done much faster if you don’t faff)

Ingredients:

Yellow Sugarpaste
White Sugarpaste
Black Sugarpaste
Tap water
Buttercream

Tools:
Small paintbrush (/hands)
Circle cutters/ objects with circles bases you can draw around
A small but fairly sharp knife

Method:
1. Cut a circle for each cupcake out of the yellow sugarpaste. It should be just a little bigger then the surface of the cupcake, as the top is rounded so it will be a bit smaller then it looks.
2. Stick the circles to the cupcakes using buttercream. Spread a layer of buttercream on the cupcake, then gently press the circle onto the cake, smoothing as you go.
3. Using a pea-sized amount of black sugarpaste, mix a grey sugarpaste by folding the black sugarpaste into the white and kneading in until the colour is fully mixed and isn’t streaky. Don’t use all your white for this, as you’ll need white later.
4. Cut grey circles to form the goggle rims. These need to take up about 2/3 of the cupcake in height, making them possibly slightly bigger for the minions with one eye than the ones with two eyes. Cut out one or two for each cupcake.
5. Using a cutter that is one size down from the grey cutter, press out white circles to make the eyeballs of the minions. Stick these on top of the grey circles using a little bit of water. Water acts like glue with sugarpaste, so you only need a tiny bit, spread evenly across the back of the white circle, to make it stick.
6. Cut small black circles out to form the pupils of the eyes. These don’t want to be too small, ideally about 1/4 or 1/3 of the eye in height. Stick these onto the white circles using water.
7. Stick the completed eyes onto the yellow base of the cupcake using water. Place them about 2/3 up the cupcake, so there is room to place a small mouth later.
8. Using the black sugarpaste, cut out mouth shapes that you want your minions to have. Roll out the sugarpaste and cut these with a sharp, small knife. Some easy expressions are shocked (just a circle shape), really happy (a bit D shape, and you could stick little white squares in for teeth) and a smile (cut a semi-circle and then cut the outside curve into a thin strip). Let your imagination run wild!
9. Stick the mouths onto the yellow bases on the cupcakes using water.
10. Using any leftover black, cut thin strips to make the straps of the goggles. Use the knife for this, and hold up against the cupcakes to make sure you have the right length before cutting and sticking down onto the yellow base. You want to strip to stretch from the grey circle (the goggle) to the outside edge of the cupcake, all the way down to the edge of the yellow base circle.

Handy Hints:
Sugarpaste- When using sugarpaste, it’s really important that you leave any sugarpaste you’re not currently using in an airtight bag, fully covered. Sugarpaste becomes unusable incredibly quickly, so keep everything except already cut pieces and the sugarpaste you’re currently rolling out and cutting in an airtight bag.If you don’t think you’ll work quickly enough, stick the grey goggle circles onto the yellow as soon as they’re made, then add the white and black as you go, instead of assembling them off the cupcake, then sticking them on.
Cutters- Use cutter sets which have many different circle sizes in them, or simply use the base of a round object and cut around it. We used a bottle top, a shot glass and a cup base to get the sizes we didn’t have in the cutters!
Black colouring- Black sugarpaste is a nightmare!! Make sure that you use a separate part of the counter to roll out the black, because if you get any on the other colours, it runs really easily and is very noticable, trust me.
Sugarpaste colouring- To get your colours, you can either buy pre-mixed colours (Asda now does a really good range, which we bought and can be found here), or you can hand mix them by buying a pack of white sugarpaste, then adding paste colourings to them.
Sugarpaste- Sugarpaste is also called ‘Ready to roll icing’ in a lot of places, just to save confusion!

minions

minions3

minions4

minion family

minion family 2

minion cake abovePhotography, as usual by Nitya Kanoria. Click here to check out her blog, which has more amazing photos and some great travel experiences.

The Best Cupcake Recipe

Before I start this post I want to apologise for not posting this week- it’s all been a bit busy with packing, moving back home for summer and unpacking again! But now I’m at home, so will have plenty of time for baking and blogging recipes- yey! This does mean that some of the recipes appearing here may have more recipes included and may be more expensive as I can raid the cupboards in the kitchen, but I will still be adding up the cost of each recipe for you all. I will try and keep them simple and resist the temptation to get too carried away! That’s enough ramble though, so here’s my actual post:

Cupcakes are something that everyone can appreciate and range from very simple ones to very intricate complicated ones. Decorating cupcakes is one of my favourite baking things to do, but it does take time and effort so when I’m at uni all I ever do is shove some frosting on them (the student laziness strikes again). In this post I’m going to share with you the cupcake recipe, and in the next post I’m going to discuss and give recipes for different frostings, some more complicated than others. In my years of baking (that makes me sound about a million years old) I have tried so many different cupcake recipes, but the one I’m going to post today is the best one I’ve ever found, and possibly the best one ever. The recipe comes from the Hummingbird Bakery and is in all of their recipe books. I love it because I find a lot of cupcake recipes quite dry, but this one creates the perfect texture for me, and I’m yet to find a person who doesn’t like them! For those of you who haven’t heard of Hummingbird Bakery, research them. Now. They have the most amazing bakes ever, and they have a way of making every bake look amazingly tasty. Unfortunately they only have shops in London in the UK, which makes me very sad, but they do have a great blog and four great recipe books. This is beginning to sound a bit like I’m sponsored by them or something now, so I’m going to stop talking them up and get on with the recipe, but seriously check them out- this is their website :
https://hummingbirdbakery.com/
(and Hummingbird Bakery, if by some chance you’re reading this- a shop in Manchester would be amazing!)

The Recipe:
This recipe makes chocolate cupcakes.
Overall price to make: £1.88
Baking Time: 20-25 minutes
(I haven’t put a preparation time as it can take me between half an hour and an hour depending on how much singing/dancing round the kitchen I do, if I have an electric mixer, if I’m chatting to someone etc.)

Ingredients:
70g Unsalted Butter
170g Plain Flour
250g Caster Sugar
50g Cocoa Powder
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
210ml Whole Milk* (see Helpful Hints)
2 Eggs

Method:
This recipe makes around 16 cupcakes.
1. Preheat the oven to 170 C (325 F or Gas Mark 3) and line the muffin tins with cases (I find it makes 16 cupcakes).
2. Soften the butter- I tend to just stick it in the microwave for about 5-10 seconds depending on how high power your microwave is.
3. Mix the butter, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together. You may want to add these and give it a little mix after you add each or you’ll find the dry ingredients just explode everywhere when you start to mix it and it all gets very messy! The ingredients that haven’t ended up on the kitchen counter, you or the floor should form a crumb-like consistency.
4. In a separate jug, mix together the eggs and milk with a fork.
5. Mixing slowly, pour half the eggs and milk mixture into the crumb mixture and stir until it’s all combined. Mix more quickly when it’s combined to form a smooth and thick batter-like mixture. When any lumps have gone (try squishing them a bit with your spoon or whisk), add the rest of the milk and egg mixture and mix until the mixture is combined and smooth.
6. Make sure that there isn’t any flour or other dry ingredients at the bottom of the mixture- a really floury cupcake is not what you want!
7. Spoon the batter into the cases- they should fill about 2/3 of the case.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes in the oven, or until the sponge bounces back when you touch it (give it a poke and see if it springs back).
9. Leave to cool completely before frosting if you’re going to decorate them.

Helpful Hints
Baking Powder- This looks expensive for what it is but trust me it’s worth having- it keeps for ages and you can just store it until you need it, you never need much of it in each recipe.

Whole Milk- Most students won’t have whole milk just lying around in the fridge, however if you’re a tea or coffee fan you might have semi-skimmed milk in the fridge. Instead of whole milk you can use semi-skimmed milk and a little bit of butter, which is way easier and I can’t taste the difference! For this recipe, you’ll need about 1.5 tbsp of melted butter (just add it to the semi-skimmed milk). Overall, you need 2 tablespoons of melted butter to 1 cup (237g) of semi-skimmed milk to create a whole milk alternative.

Vanilla cupcakes- if you want to make vanilla cupcakes instead of chocolate ones, then swap the cocoa powder for more Plain Flour (210g) and add a teaspoon of Vanilla Extract. Otherwise, the recipe is the same.

If you want to decorate your cupcakes watch this space for next week’s post on frosting!

The finished product looks something like this (although these have frosting on):
Cinder Toffee Cupcakes