Grandpa Webb's blog

Friday, 14 June 2013

The great cupcake confusion

The very senior person (VSP) in our road has just invited us to his 86th birthday celebration. It will be a buffet lunch, he announced. “And I would really like it if you could bring along some of your delicious cupcakes,” he said to grandma.Grandpa Webb

Grandma doesn’t do cupcakes. She does make a pretty good chocolate ring cake, which has been much appreciated in the past by our VSP and others, but confronted with a request for cupcakes, she didn’t like to say no – particularly after the VSP came round a little later with a load of muffin-cases to put the cakes in.

After a quick check with the VSP’s carer, we discovered that the cake-stand for the cupcakes had 24 spaces in it. To fill this many muffin cases (actually we swapped them for slightly smaller ones) we calculated we needed four times our usual amount of chocolate cake mix.

And then there was the icing. Cupcakes these days seem to be smothered in butter-cream icing. We don’t do that either – but Betty Crocker does, so we picked up two drums of her ready-mixed chocolate fudge stuff from the supermarket, along with an icing kit (ours had been ditched years ago to make cupboard space for pencils, brushes, paint and paper for visiting grandchildren).

It was a steep learning curve. How much mixture do you put in each paper case? We filled them about half full and put the first batch in the oven. Ideally we reckoned that the top of each cake, when it was cooked, should be level to provide a flat base for the icing.

Watching through the glass door of the oven, we saw ours rise alarmingly into a big curve above each paper case. Never mind, as they cooled, they shrank back a bit, and Betty’s icing was so sticky it was unlikely to slip over the edge.
Cupcake icing
If you enter ‘cupcake icing’ on Google, sooner or later you’ll come across a lady called Zanthe Milton on You Tube showing you how to ice cupcakes. She has a steady hand, and her icing goes on easily and smoothly. She has ready-filled icing bags with different colour icing and produces brilliant results every time.

What the video doesn’t tell you is that a cupcake, once it has wet icing on top, is a bit top-heavy and very easy to accidentally tip upside down when transferring from the icing area (our chocolate-smeared kitchen worktop) to a tray. Luckily bakers can eat their mistakes.

It also doesn’t show you how to top up the icing bag with more Betty Crocker chocolate icing without getting the stuff everywhere. Luckily we both like chocolate.

All we needed now were some sprinkles. I hadn’t realised that the production of sprinkles for iced cakes was such a big business. Our supermarket had all manner of silver balls, chocolate chippings, silver and gold dust – even real gold leaf – for adorning the top of the icing.

If you are sprinkling gold dust on cupcakes, as I was, my tip is: don’t wear a black pullover. Mine sparkles every time I walk under a light.

If you like chocolate cakes, here’s how we made them.

To make about 10 you need:

Put all ingredients into a bowl. Beat with electric mixer until smooth.

Spoon the mixture into Finished cupcakes10 paper cake cases in a bun tin.

We cooked ours in a pre-heated fan oven at 160C for about 18-20 min. A skewer will come out clean when they’re cooked. Looking at my conversion tables, this equates to 180C – 190C for a non fan electric oven or gas Mk 4-5.

Good luck! I hope you like them.

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