Since being at uni, one thing I have really missed is baking. I know I can buy ingredients, tins and utensils here, however, it is so much easier at home, when you know you have cocoa powder and a springform tin in the cupboard! However, this weekend, I decided that I wanted to make cupcakes again!
As I am slightly out of practice, I opted for vanilla cupcakes with pink butter cream icing. I have been far more adventurous in the past, adding a variety of different flavours and colours, but today I chose to keep it simple.
After battling through the cold, wind and rain on my trip to Sainsbury’s, I ended up with the following ingredients…
For the cakes:
- 220g Self raising flour
- 220g Golden caster sugar
- 4 Eggs
- 220g Unsalted butter
- 1tsp Vanilla extract
For the icing:
- 300g Unsalted butter
- 600g Icing sugar
- 6tbsp Almond milk
- Pink food colouring
(Plus sprinkles for decoration!)
Although buying the initial ingredients for baking is slightly costly, I managed to get all of this for about £11, the bags of flour, icing sugar and caster sugar will last me a while. The most expensive aspect of the baking was the butter???? Why is butter so expensive???
Anyway, onto my method…
Firstly, I preheated the fan oven to 160 degrees- but it would be 180 degrees otherwise, or gas mark 4. I also prepped my cupcake tray, placing 12 cases into the holes for when the batter was complete.
The recipe was really simple, and it started by whisking together the golden caster sugar and unsalted butter that I had softened in the microwave for 30 seconds. Once this was combined it became light and fluffy. I ensured the sides of the bowl were scraped back into the mixture to make sure it was well combined.
To my cake mixture I then added my eggs one at a time, mixing well between, to make sure all the of the yolk had spread apart. After the 4 eggs had been added, the mix became lighter and less firm.
Following this I then added the self-raising flower, the vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Gently, I used the whisks to partially mix in the flour, before I turned them onto the highest setting. This prevents flour flying all over your kitchen, which, trust me, isn’t fun to clean up.
Once the batter was thick and creamy I then carefully spooned the mixture into the cupcake cases. I made enough for 24 cupcakes, so I saved half the mix to use after my first cupcakes had finished cooking.
My first 12 were rather full, and slightly unevenly distributed. With this is mind, although the recipe states to keep them in the oven for 15 minutes, this batch took around 23 mins. My second 12 were less full, but these still took a few minutes more than suggested, at about 20.
To test whether your cupcakes are cooked properly, I normally give the top a feel, it shouldn’t be gooey, but it should bounce a little. The tops will also go golden. If you are unsure you can use a toothpick (or similar) and press it into the cake; if the toothpick comes out clean, the cakes are done.
After coming out of the oven I removed the cupcakes from the tin straight away to speed up cooling time, which meant I could then move on to making my super pink and sweet butter cream!
Once again, the butter cream steps are just as simple as the previous cake instructions.
I made a slight error here, using a bowl that was 100% not big enough to mix the butter cream, without half of it ending up on my work top. However, I made it work, and because I didn’t want to add to my pile of washing up, I persevered.
I started by creaming the butter with the whisk. This took a little longer than expected because it wasn’t as soft as it needed to be, but after a quick zap in the microwave it was much better. To the butter I gently poured in the icing sugar- this is the point that I realised my bowl was a bit on the petite side.
It took me a while to combine the icing sugar and butter, but by adding some almond milk (I did this by eye) it made the powder, less… powdery. I did keep having to stop and pick all of the butter out of my whisks which also slowed things down a bit. I also feel like I somehow have an incredibly strong hand-held electric whisk, and my bowl nearly shot off onto the floor multiple times.
I am making this experience seem far harder than it was!
Once the mixture was creamy, but not too runny for piping- I guess stiff peaks are good- I added a few drops of my pink Sainsbury’s food colouring, which was really pigmented and made the icing a lovely baby pink. Obviously there are loads of other colours to choose from if pink isn’t your thing, but if you want a more intense colour, just add a few extra drops. It is always better to start off slow, because depending on the colouring, some can be very strong.
I bought a new piping bag and icing nozzle set from a local homeware store this week and I was excited to use it. It worked ok, not the best I have ever used, but my Mum sent me some more in the post so I will definitely be using those instead next time!
The lasting touches involved me chopping up some mini chocolate flakes, which were great for sprinkling onto the icing, and also adding some gold sprinkles too. I wanted to make these cakes super girly and cute, as they are for Ellen’s 21st birthday!!!
Happy birthday today!
I really enjoyed getting back into baking, and now I have bags of flour and sugar I cannot wait to try lots of new recipes. I hope my housemates are ready to eat A LOT of cake over the next coming weeks.
Here is the recipe if you want to give it a go…