Last Friday, 26th October there was a bake sale at my work for the Wear it Pink campaign for breast cancer.
I decided to dig out my cupcake tin and get to baking. My husband bought me this book as a treat a couple years’ back and I ardently vowed to try every recipe therein. So far, I’ve tried
about exactly three. But I’ve perfected those three! Almost.
I thought it best to keep things simple – vanilla – in order to use up ingredients I already had. As it turns out, it’s been a while since I’ve done any baking and it was time to restock the pantry.
To make delicious cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting, you will need:
– 220g unsalted butter at room temperature
– 225g caster sugar, preferably golden
– 2 large eggs
– 150g self-raising flour
– 125g plain flour
– 120ml semi-skimmed milk
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 500g icing sugar
– Food colouring and sprinkles (optional)
Here we go!
Preheat oven to 160°C (fan) / 180°C and line a 12-cake muffin tray with cupcake cases.
In a large mixing bowl, cream 110g of butter with the caster sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth. This takes about 3-5 minutes using an electric hand mixer. *Here is when it really helps if you start with room temperature butter. It’s hard to remember to take the butter out of the fridge 2 hours before baking, but try you must! Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix for a minute or two after each addition.
Combine the two types of flour in a separate bowl. The recipe calls for sifted flour – I don’t have a sifter. I think this is a key step for getting the lightest, fluffiest cakes possible. I do my best to lift some air through it using a whisk… seems to work ok.
Add one-third of the flour mixture and one-third of the milk to the creamed butter/sugar and beat well with the electric hand mixer. Repeat with the second and third thirds(!) until all the flour and milk have been added. Add one teaspoon of vanilla extra and give it one last good stir.
Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them about two-thirds full. Start with about 1 tablespoon in each, then go back and distribute the extra… or else you’ll end up with a few awkwardly small cupcakes. Maybe you want to give those to your least favourite colleagues 🙂
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown. In our new fandangled oven (the one that is now kaput at only 2 weeks old – that’s a whole ‘nother post) it took 27 minutes. To check they are cooked, insert a skewer (I used a butter knife) into the centre of one of the cakes – it should come out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for about 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool. I didn’t do this. I promptly ripped them from their cozy holes and devoured one! Purely for quality control testing, you understand…
Now onto the frosting…
In a large mixing bowl beat 110g of butter, one teaspoon vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth. This can take several minutes. *Warning, you may well end up with an adorable layer of fine white dust all over you. This may cause your cats to lick your slippers… just saying. If this is proving difficult, add a bit of water 30ml at a time until it loosens up. The recipe calls for a splash of milk, but I prefer to substitute water as it doesn’t affect the taste of the frosting and means you can leave the cupcakes out of the refrigerator overnight without fear of milk spoilage.
Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. At this point, add food colouring (if you want). Slowly slowly! A few drops go a long way. I wanted a fairly pink shade of pink, if you know what I mean, so I used about 6 drops.
It’s important to ice the cup cakes right away, while the frosting is still ‘loose’. If the phone rings or your attention span diminishes (I know, I’m distracted by the latest episode of Jersey Shore too), give the frosting another mix with your handy electric mixer before you attempt to spread.
Icing the cupcakes… According to the book, practice makes perfect. Well clearly I haven’t practiced enough. Use a palette knife if you have one (large butter knife if you don’t) and place a large dollop in the centre of the cupcake. It takes more frosting than you think! Gently work the icing out to the edge of the cupcake. Repeat (generally about 3 dollops required – no really!) then drag the knife around the edge of the cupcake in a circular motion to create a smooth swirl effect. Add sprinkles (or hundreds and thousands as they’re called in old Blighty) as you wish.
In reality, mine aren’t picture perfect. But they tasted good! I almost bought my own offerings at the bake sale, but opted for a pink rice krispy square instead.
Enjoy! I will *definitely* try more recipes from the Primrose cupcake book… perhaps something Christmas-y next time.