Baking Bonanza!

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This weekend has been full of baking, decorating and eating cupcakes! I made these Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting for my best friend’s birthday yesterday. They went down a treat! I can definitely recommend using Green and Black’s cocoa powder and the decorations were from Just Bake and I also received the other sugar flowers in my Christmas stocking. A few people have asked me where I get the boxes from – you can buy them online from Cakes, Cookies and Crafts.

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Since I had made a double quantity of chocolate frosting for 20 cupcakes (I doubled the sponge recipe) I still had some left so tonight I russled up some more vanilla cupcakes. This time they’re for Easter and I’ve used Smarties eggs. The one in the middle is for a colleague who has given up chocolate for Lent. I used caramel dipping sauce from Waitrose – it’s a bit like dulce de leche and tastes delicious. Last weekend I baked some shortbreads from the Great British Book of Baking and it tastes fab to add a dollop of caramel to those! If you’re wondering how I’m not the size of a house making these cupcakes, I made it to my first spin class tonight in eight years. I think the endorphin kick spurred me into baking again tonight!

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Hummingbird Bakery Cupcake Challenge

Angel Cupcake_Naomi Longworth_compressed2To celebrate the third anniversary of Cake Takes the Biscuit, I decided to invent my own cupcake and enter the Hummingbird Bakery Cupcake Challenge to boot. I started researching my ideas for American home-style baking whilst on a recent trip to Australia. My American friend out there talked about her childhood memories of angel food cake, a super light fluffy cake made with egg whites. So I set upon creating Angel Cupcake – a light and fluffy vanilla sponge, reminiscent of angel food cake, with a lemon curd frosting to symbolise luscious Californian lemons and topped with a sprinkle of strawberries, one of America’s most important fruits.

After three nights of baking perfecting the sponge recipe, making lemon curd and trying out different backgrounds for the photograph, I finally managed to submit Angel Cupcake to the Hummingbird Bakery Cupcake Challenge with two mins to spare. Look out next week for the full list of ingredients and method so you can try out the recipe yourself! My colleagues and friends thought the cupcake was a hit because it was super light and the lemon curd frosting was delicious. So glad it was worth all the long hours of baking!

Angel Cupcake by Naomi Longworth

Easter vanilla cupcakes recipe

with mini eggs in pink gingham cupcake boxHaving recently been to the Cakes4Fun cupcake course in Putney, I have continued to use their vanilla sponge and vanilla buttercream recipes. The sponge is light and the frosting is yummy! This time I made a mistake to use Lurpak spreadable butter as the icing wasn’t stiff enough. Next time I will definitely stick to the butter blocks as this tends to give a better result. I made these cupcakes for my friend’s birthday and she was over the moon with them. They make great pressies when you put them in a professional looking cupcake box. I bought this pink gingham one from Cakes Cookies and Crafts. See below for the Cakes4Fun vanilla cupcake recipe. Have a lovely Easter everyone!

Cupcake sponge (makes about 10)

  • 125g castor sugar
  • 125g margerine
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 2 eggs (large)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2-3 tablespoons of milk as needed

Vanilla buttercream:

  • 125g soft butter (use salted)
  • 250g sifted icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon of water as required

Hummingbird Bakery lemon cupcake recipe review

Lemon cupcakes with lemon frostingLast week for the Cupcake Break cake swapping party, I made lemon cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery recipe book. I did tweak the recipe for a number of practical reasons and so I thought I’d share my experiences.  First up the recipe says to use 2 tablespoons of grazed lemon zest. In my experience, that’s a hell of a lot of lemon zest! After grating 3 lemons, I decided that had to be enough! It wasn’t two tablespoons worth but when I tasted the mixture it tasted very lemony indeed.  Next up, I thought it a bit odd to have a lemon cupcake recipe without any lemon juice in it. Not to mention it being a bit wasteful having lemons with no zest and no use for the juice. So instead of using whole milk in the recipe I replaced half of the quantity with lemon juice.  For the frosting, the first common sense thing to note is that if you put icing sugar and butter in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer, regardless of speed, the icing sugar will go everywhere! For this reason I added some of the liquid at the same time as mixing the butter and icing sugar to avoid this.  Again, instead of using whole milk, I replaced this with lemon juice. I find that the recipe makes 9 cupcakes so I do a double quantity of the recipe.  Also I find that you only need to do one quantity of frosting (250g of icing sugar) to ice 18 cupcakes. I didn’t put any lemon zest in the frosting as this would be total overkill.  Lemon juice did the trick nicely instead.

To summarize the tweaks I made (taking into account the double quantities):

Sponge

  • zezt of 3 lemons
  • 120ml lemon juice
  • 120ml semi skimmed milk

Frosting

  • 25ml lemon juice rather than milk
  • No lemon zest

The verdict? I had quite a few taste testers at the cake swapping party and there were lots of yums and ooos.  I take this to be positive feedback. I also made a batch of these for my flatmate’s birthday last weekend and my cake connoisseurs thought the sponge was very moist and the icing lovely and lemony. Here’s to a successful tweaked recipe! Let me know how you get on trying the recipe out! Oh and what’s on the cake blog next week? A review of the new afternoon tea at the Wallace Restaurant – will it stack up? You’ll have to wait to find out…

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