Wednesday, 13 March 2013

TBP: The Awful Truth

Hello everyone. There is something I have to tell you. Something awful. The biggest trend in baking at the moment are cupcakes. Beautiful, dainty, colourful cupcakes. Just turn on the Food Network at any time and there will be some cupcake programme showing a couple amateurs churning out a hundred perfect cupcakes. Everyone loves cupcakes. Everyone can make cupcakes: a three-year old child, Nana, the family dog.

Everyone, but me.

The first things I remember baking with my mum when I was a kid were fairy cakes. I have to admit, it's not all bad news. I can make some decent vanilla or chocolate cakes with a lovely glace icing. But who wants glace icing when you can have some incredible buttercream creation?! No one. That's who.

Firstly the cakes themselves. I went for a classic cupcake recipe. Butter, sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla essence and baking powder. Simple. The only hiccup I had was that room temperature that day was cold. Too cold to soften the butter. I had to stick it by the fire to soften it faster and Baxter kept trying to crawl up unnoticed and eat it all:

Leave it with me, I promise I won't eat it...
I don't ever use a buttercream recipe (probably a mistake), and just wing it. After about five attempts it still hasn't worked but no, I have not learnt my lesson. This time the icing actually stayed stiff enough to pipe and went into the bag well. In an attempt to make a pale pink icing I added a drop of red food colouring, unfortunately added to bright yellow butter it ended up an extremely questionable colour. I believe the comment made was: 'Why are they brown?'.

So here are my cakes:

Look how nice they look: golden, light and risen...

Now, ten minutes later:

EUGH. What is that icing meant to look like?! A dog turd?

Maybe second time will work better...

No. No, it won't.

I tried another technique. 'Maybe just some blobs or something would look nice.' I thought:

The next cupcake decorating phenomenon: anemones
Not awful...but by this point I'd run out of my icing. Good one.

The rest of them got a blob on top which was spread about with a pallet knife. My go to technique once I've tried and failed with a nice swirl. For some reason I then stuck some silver blobs on top. Well they did taste nice, better than my icing, which incidentally I had made with too much butter and not enough sugar.

Tastier than they look
On the plus side the cake was nice...I can only hope mum enjoyed her Mother's Day gift, made with love and thought!

For the purpose of The Baking Project, I would like very much to actually learn to decorate a cupcake nicely. At the moment I use a 1cm star nozzle for piping swirls, and I am coming to the conclusion that I need a much larger one for the nice cupcake swirls you see. Sadly, that is the largest I own. What can you recommend?


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