"I'm coming over to bake cupcakes"
And that was that - another Wednesday afternoon spent in the kitchen with Ju Vern attempting to turn out adequately attractive cupcakes for someone's birthday and a charity bake-off. The cupcakes came from a simple recipe from her mum, quirky-ly titled "Queen's Cupcakes". While it slipped my mind to get the recipe from her, I did manage to find a similarly named recipe with the help of good old Google (really, what would the world do without google?).
Queen Cupcakes, taken from Bake Space with a cream cheese frosting
75g castor sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
milk to taste
Cream cheese frosting:
75g butter, softened,
75g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
sugar to taste
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celcius.
Sift flour and baking powder.
Cream butter and sugar until light and creamy before adding the lightly beaten egg to the mixture.
Add vanilla essence and fold in flour and baking powder. Add milk until the batter has a soft dropping consistency. Mix in raisins.
Fill 3/4 of each cupcake shell with the batter and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
To make the frosting, cream butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and incremental amounts of sugar. Adding sugar a bit at a time and tasting as you go along gives you control of how sweet you want your frosting to be.
Allow cupcakes to cool before spreading the frosting.
The cupcakes are a breeze to make - the perfect recipe to fall back on when you need to make a quick dessert. It's also a good basic recipe to play around with (I suspect that adding some lemon or orange juice in place of milk would be a good twist). The bit that we didn't find so easy, however, was the decorating of the cupcakes. While cream cheese frosting is absolutely delicious (yes, even on its own) it's quite tricky to work with. Colouring doesn't mix very well with it and it doesn't have that stiff consistency that usual frosting or icing has.
So some lessons learnt that afternoon:
- Mixing more and more food colouring into cream cheese frosting does not make it look better - in fact, what you get is crazy looking, psychedelic frosting.
- Cream cheese frosting dissolves makeshift paper funnels.
- It may be a good idea to invest in a basic cake-decorating kit.
I've come away from the experience wanting more than ever to spend some time experimenting and learning how to make my food look gorgeous. Perhaps I've watched one too many episodes of Masterchef or read far too many amazing food blogs - whatever it is, I think it's time I learnt a thing or two about presentation.
Any suggestions on where to begin?