Friday, 30 April 2010

Red velvet cupcakes with cinnamon frosting

It was my birthday on Wednesday. Let us not dwell on the number and rather focus on the cupcakes I baked to celebrate the day. As I think I have previously mentioned I have been planning to make some red velvet cupcakes for some time now, but not found the right occasion until now. I have seen some recipes out there, but decided to use the one from "the hummingbird bakery cookbook" with a few tweaks here and there. The hummingbird bakery suggests a cream cheese frosting for the cupcakes, which I would normally go for, but I wanted to be a bit adventurous and try something new. I know Magnolia Bakery in New York partners their red velvet cupcakes with a vanilla icing, which is made out of a boiled flour and milk pudding which is let to cool a bit before adding sugar and butter. I tried this icing when I was trying out recipes for my daughter's baptism cupcakes. As it would coincide with the start of the Greek Easter week I had to avoid cow's milk and butter. I therefore used vegetable margarine and soy milk. The results was a very bland icing which did nothing for me. I decided very quickly that I did not like that type of icing. However, a fellow baker (who bakes faboulous cakes) told me that I had to use real butter and good quality vanilla.

So I decided to try out the cinammon frosting from the cookbook "Baked-New Frontiers in Baking" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. As a red velvet cupcakes really is a chocolate cupcake I loved their idea of adding the cinnamon, I thought it would enhance the chocolate taste.

I didn't have enough liquid red colouring, so added what I got, but it didn't give much a red colour. Just as well as I a bit sceptical of putting that much red food colouring in my food. I love to add a few drops to my icing, but 40-60ml is quite a lot! I think next time I'll try to add beet juice instead, although I expect it'll change the taste somewhat.

I was really happy with the results of my cupcakes. The cupcakes themselves were not too sweet, but did remind me quite a lot of my normal chocolate cupcakes as I also use buttermilk in them. I think the white vinegar made the difference. The frosting was soft, fluffy, silky texture to it, and really, really yummy good. Despite all the butter it didn't taste butter as I found the traditional buttercreams do. The cinnamon was literally the icing on the cake!

I topped them off with some chocolate filegrees which I thought were pretty cute. I had a template in a new cupake book I recently purchased and I'll def try to make more of those.

My brother-in-law who has tasted almost all of my different cupcakes told me these were his favourite. I think I trust him on that, as he previously prefered the chocolate nutella cupcakes I have made a few times. I took the last 6 to today's baby group for the mummies and toddlers to taste and I hope they liked them. Personally I thought the cakes had already gone a bit dry and I made a rookie mistake by living them partially uncovered in the fridge. I hope the mummies will forgive me, they were really much better when I had just made them!

So for the recipe, with the adaptions I got 16 cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes adapted from "the hummingbird bakery cookbook"

60 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150 g caster sugar
2 eggs
20 g cocoa powder
40 ml red food colouring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120 ml buttermilk
150 g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 170 degreesC (325F) Gas3

Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed. Turn the nixer up to high speed, slowly add one egg and beat until well incorporated. Repeat with the second egg.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, food colouring and vanilla extract to make a very thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thouroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any umixed ingredients from the side of the bowl wiht a rubber spatula). Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pur in half the buttermil. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture.

Mix bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar in a small bowl or a mug, and stir until the soda dissolves. The mixture will fizz. Add to the batter and beat until well mixed.

Spoon the mixture inteo the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mintues or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. When they are cold, pipe or spoon the frosting on.

Cinnamon frosting from "Baked. New Frontiers in Baking"

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy milk
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks)unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally (I whisked quite often to avoid the milk to burn), until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; beat until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla and the cinnamon and continue mixing until combined.

No you can spoon the frosting onto your cold cupcakes "hummingbird bakery" style or Carine style with some nice piped swirls. I think my cupcakes look quite pretty!

Monday, 19 April 2010


A friend of mine recently turned 30. I thought it deserved some special cupcakes. I wanted to make chocolate ones, but then I remembered that her favourites are cakes with lemon in one way or another. I also really wanted to work on my meringue, so had the best excuse to make my lime cupcakes with lime curd filling and meringue frosting. I know lime aren't lemons, but hey, they are a citrus fruit, so hoped my friend would forgive me!

I used the same lime cupcake base as the mini lime cupcakes I made during Easter and I also made my own lime curd. Even after living in the UK for quite a few years I had never tasted lemon curd, so it took Greece and a passion for cupcakes to try it out! Turns out I love it! The receipe I use calls for lemon, but I replace it with lime and it really is supereasy to make. The recipe doesn't make a whole lot, but just enough to fill the cupcakes, and I use the spare egg whites for the meringue. That way, nothing goes to waste - it really is a win, win situation!

The other two times I have made these cupcakes the meringue has always sunk almost right after taking them out of the oven. I had read that it is important to whisk the meringue long enough and also, one shouldn't make it on a wet or a humid day as the humidity causes the meringue to be limp and sticky. I was looking to get a crispy meringue on the outside and pretty soft and gooey on the inside. I know that a bit of cream of tartar stabilises the egg whites, so I did this and whisked it long enough and the meringue was perfect. It didn't sink when I took the cupcakes out of the oven, but the hard or crispy shell as wanted wasn't exactly there. I guess it is too much to ask after only 5 minutes in the oven...

I like decorating my cupcakes, so had to come up with some nice decorations for these ones as well. I was planning to have the number 30 in sugarpaste on the cupcakes, but I wasn't sure on how I would do it and get them to stay on top of the meringue, but then my creative (his words, not mine!) husband suggested I could have one letter on each cupcakes spelling out "Life begins @ 30". What a perfect idea!! My friend had already said in her blog post about turing 30 that she will embrace it, rather than fighting it, so I thought this was the best decoration ever!
I made the sugarpaste, coloured it, made 12 hearts and added the letters on 10 of them and managed to roll out thin lines to spell out @ and 30 on the last two. I took these pictures in a hurry, but I think they look pretty cool!

Some family members have their names days and birthdays coming up within this week, so I will be making some cupcakes this week again. I think I am definitely trying out a red velvet recipe and possibly a chocolate and cardamom cupcake. If you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Easter cupcakes

I know Easter is over, but I haven't had time to write this post earlier, so here goes!

My parents were visiting over from Norway and as we were going to Xalkidiki for the Easter weekend and I knew some neighbours and friends would be there as well I decided to make some cupcakes for everyone to enjoy. For me Easter treats are definitely all about chocolate (mostly together with marzipan), so clearly had to make chocolate cupcakes! A friend had brought some speckled chocolate eggs over from the UK, but I decided to make mini cupcakes for the first time, so had to make some marzipan eggs for the decoration this time. Lucikly I had bought some marizpan a few weeks earlier, so no need to make homemade marzipan this time!

I also had a banana that needed to be used so added that to the batter for lovely moist chocolate and banana cupcakes and teamed it with a chocolate cream cheese frosting. I definitely prefer the chocolate cream cheese frosting to the chocolate buttercream frosting. I wanted to create a little hen's nest with the eggs on for the frosting decoration, but apparently I am so used to make fairly nice topped swirls, so I got slightly carried away and forgot about the nest. A few cupcakes did have a little nest-feeling to it though! :)

I wanted to make another flavour in addition to the chocolate cupcakes as not everyone loves chocolate as much as I do, so was thinking of trying out a red velvet recipe, but knowing the red velvet cupcakes also contain cocoa I decided to go for a citrusy cupcake instead - lime cupcakes with lime cream cheese frosting. The recipe I got makes a moist and lovely tasting lime cupcake and the zest in the frosting really brings out the lime flavour - these were a big hit!

Although I went to bed late after making these cupcakes (obviously since I had started really late in the evening!) I loved, loved, loved making these mini cupcakes! They do not fill you up and leaves plenty of space to try a few flavours! I will definitely make more mini cupcakes from now on!

And so I leave you with this photo of five cute mini Easter cupcakes!