Friday, July 20, 2007

Retro Cupcakes

As regular readers will know, I love to bake. I am passionate about cakes in all their forms. By this, I do not mean beautifully presented, delicately decorated cakes. I simply do not have the artistic flair (or patience) required for such confections. For me, some of the best cakes are those that are entirely without glamour, but that taste surprisingly delicious. An innocent-looking carrot cake can be a thing of beauty without the need for elaborate embellishment. A fruit-packed tea-bread may not look exciting but can be sensationally satisfying.

Whilst I would generally chose to bake a 'whole' cake for a birthday, there is something appealing about a tray of brightly coloured cup cakes. And something practical too. No need for knife - everyone can simply help themselves. This is the third time I have produced a tray of these beauties for friends' birthdays and they always seem to go down well. It would be wonderful to decorate them beautifully and dream up some fancy flavours, but I can leave others to that ( As I mentioned, I lack patience and small fiddly things drive me insane. So, instead, I choose retro.

Bring on the dazzling artificial decorations of my youth! Hundreds and thousands, check. Orange and lemon slices, check. Silver balls, check. Food dye, check.

This time, I chose to make half lemon cupcakes (2oz flour, sugar and butter to each egg, grated rind of one lemon plus a little milk to reach desired consistency, whizz together and bake for around 15 minutes at 200C) and half chocolate (a marginally more complex recipe from Nigella's 'How to be a Domestic Goddess').

The lemon cakes were topped with (of course) lemon icing (make as usual, substitute water for lemon juice), which I dyed in pretty pink and green. The chocolate ones were treated to a delicious, tooth-achingly sweet chocolate fudge icing, the recipe herewith...

Heat 175g butter and 6tblsp water with 225g caster sugar.
Once sugar has dissolved, bring to boil. Once mixture is boiling, remove from heat and add 100g drinking chocolate and 350g icing sugar. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Cool before use.
Notes - Sieve the icing sugar before use. Do not cut corners here - it will be lumpy!
I am uncertain of the provenance of this recipe - it came from my mother.
Anyway, once the little fellows are iced, the fun begins - decorate as garishly as possible, I say.

A nice touch is to leave some unadorned (if you can resist) and then pipe the birthday girl/boy's name across the centre.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

gorgeous and I'm sure yummy. My son is getting married in Dec. I offered to make cupcakes to go along with the wedding cake. Key lime w/grapefruit buttercream frosting, lemon with lavender frosting, and red velvet w/cream cheese frosting. It will be so fun. After years of making cupcakes for school events, I finally figured out the easy way to apply sprinkles is to use the big container and just dip each one - covers it completely and is very popular with the kids : ). The many-colored frosting and decorating tradition in my family was on sugar cookies (home-made with my grandmother's recipe) for Christmas.