The weather has been gloriously miserable of late, my fridge and freezer are fully stocked, and I just mainlined Season One of Being Human in one hit. Find myself at a bit of a loose end. I should probably take advantage of the temporary break in the rain to go for a walk… So I’m finally out of excuses to avoid making this first blog post.
Not sure why I’m so anxious, obviously I’m among friends, I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t know me will stumble upon me this early in the day (actually, I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t know me will stumble across this ever). So lets dispense with the Hi, my name is, I live in, interests beyond cooking include, and I’m writing this blog because my job is so much about copying and pasting preapproved words and filling in spreadsheets that I fear that I’m about to forget how to write. Actually, looking at what I’ve written so far, well, I’ll leave you to judge.
Let’s get straight to the food.
August 15 was (rspca) Cupcake Day! And with a name like that, I didn’t particularly care that I’m rather ambivalent about animals – it was fundraising time!
I made choc cherry cupcakes, strawberry cupcakes, and green tea cupcakes. I wore my prettiest Mad Man dress and was pretty pleased with myself – my co-workers were pretty pleased with me too. Though I will admit that making 24 green tea cupcakes may have overestimated the adventurousness of my co-workers palates somewhat. Apparently green tea cupcakes are a bigger hit at Japanese themed movie nights with 20-somethings than in the workplace when other flavours are avaliable– who knew?
I got the choc cherry cupcake recipe out of Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. This is my go to book. Everything has always turned out right the first time, every time. So I was initially disappointed in the cupcakes – they didn’t behave as I was expected them too. They rose higher than anticipated – and rose up and out flat, rather than high and round like the other cakes did. In other words they made an awful mess and I ruined quite a few of them getting them out of the tin.
Luckily the double batch came in with 36 cupcakes rather than the promised 24 – so I could afford to lose a few – and my housemate and her boyfriend certainly haven’t minded polishing off the discards. That said – these were far and away the most popular on the day – mine looked much more rustic than Nigella’s elegant creations, but they still look pretty darn good. And its chocolate, do we really care how they look. These are much moister than cupcakes usually are – I want to hypothesis that this is on account of the fact that these were the only recipe to use Self Raising flour rather than to add baking powered, but is likely on account of all the jam. Which is also what I’m also putting the breaking of the Nigella magic down too – she gave quite explicit advice about which cherry jam she prefers, and obviously in Australia that option wasn’t there. In fact, it was difficult to get cherry jam at all – but I suspect these would be quite nice with any sort of fruit that goes with chocolate (which in my book, is all of them).
I actually found the Strawberry cupcakes the easiest to make, and for my money I think they look the best too. These disappeared quite quickly through the morning; I suspect my co-workers could convince themselves that strawberry cupcakes were more appropriate for breakfast. But they did age the quickest as is so often the case with things decorated with fruit. My recipe called for strawberry buttercream, but by the time I was icing these confections it was well past 10pm, so I went for a simpler, and I think more elegant, glaze. Though elegance was really a by product of my laziness.
2 tbs strawberry jam
30g finely chopped fresh strawberries, plus 12 whole strawberries for garnish
200g baking powder
¼ tsp salt
125g unsalted butter at room temperature
3 large egg whites
½ tsp vanilla essence
4 drops red food colouring
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 180 C. Line a standard 12 muffin pan with paper cases. In a small bowl stir together the jam and chopped strawberries.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg whites, vanilla and red food colouring and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating on a low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fold in the strawberry mixture until just combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups filling each about ¾ full. Bake until lightly golden, about 25 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely.
Frost with your choice of topping.
I used a cup of icing sugar mixed with just under a tblsp butter, a tbl spn jam, and a dash of boiling water to the right consistency.
p.s. With the help of some lovely co bakers ( Chia cupcakes, Red Velvet and Ginger) we raised $185.