The Cupcake Tops

I have a love-hate relationship with cupcakes. Maybe it's just that I find cupcakes rarely satisfying enough as a dessert or a snack. They're one of those things that I find really challenging to make, let alone perfect. It's taken me three batches to get to a level where I was happy enough to publish a post on them. Contemporary cupcake places rely heavily on the icing or frosting to mask an inferior base. For me the base is the hard part - if the actual cake element isn't up to scratch then the frosting is but a layer of polish. Maybe calling it a base is a mistake. The cake simply has to be worth eating. Just like a muffin has to be delicious beyond the top. We can't just go around eating the tops and leaving everything else!

In order to find a cake I was happy with, I experimented around with different techniques and recipes but settled on one that I thought could yield results similar to what I was aiming for. I used a pound cake recipe and then drizzled some of the cakes with syrup before layering on the buttercream. I made three different cupcakes: lemon, strawberry and rose, and ultimate vanilla. I think the strawberry and rose cupcake was the most successful but my guineapigs came to different conclusions.

150g plain flour
125g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter - softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of baking power

1 part sugar
1 part water
flavouring (for the rose syrup: good quality rose water; for the lemon syrup: juice and zest of a lemon; for the vanilla syrup: vanilla extract)

85g butter - softened
160g icing sugar
flavouring (I used strawberry extract for the rose and strawberry cupcake and vanilla extract for the other two cupcakes)

Sift the flour and baking powder three times and set aside. Whisk the other ingredients on a fast speed setting for 3 minutes until the mixture has expanded and paled in colour. Add the flour and baking powder and whisk for an additional minute. Spoon the mixture into eight muffin size cups and let rest at room temperature for half an hour. Bake at 180C for 20 or so minutes until golden and puffed. Whilst the cakes are baking you should make the syrup of your choice. When the cupcakes come out of the oven (and are still hot) you should poke the surface of the cakes with a toothpick before layer a teaspoon or two of syrup. Let the cupcakes cool and then make the buttercream by working the icing sugar slowly into the butter. Add the flavour and then using a piping back (or a palette knife) layer the buttercream onto the surface of the cupcakes. That's your chance to be creative (and messy; see pics).


21 August 2009 at 15:16 Phoo-D said...

Using a pound cake recipe for the base is a great idea. I too struggle to like cupcakes. Often the ratio of frosting to cake is off and I'm just not a big fan of sugar laden frosting.

Post a Comment