Tuesday, 7 August 2012

{RECIPE}: Vanilla Cupcakes with Royal Icing

I have a very large extended family and it's not uncommon for us to make trips to each others houses every now and then. Especially when we all live within 20 minutes of each other. It's usually very chaotic and crowded, with the adults dominating the kitchen and living room, little kids screaming and running around in the garden, the boys playing video games in the games room and the girls talking in the bedrooms.

My mum is extremely grateful for the garden because it means she can shoo the kids away from the house. I'm pretty sure her nerves become fried every time someone under the age of 4, armed with crayons and a runny nose, enters our house.

Of course, like any other kind of social gathering, there has to be plenty of food to go around!

Yesterday we had had a few relatives come round for Iftar and my mum suggested I make them cupcakes.

Wait. What now, mum?

My mum NEVER asks me to make cupcakes. For two reasons: 1) She never eats them. 2) I mess up her kitchen (as if I don't clean up after myself!)

I wasn't going to say no, though. I was just a little surprised.

She had just one condition - I would have to bake them in the morning because she needed her kitchen back for the afternoon to prepare food for Iftar.

I was only too happy to oblige.

So, as soon as the sun was up and I was out of bed I headed to the kitchen for some messy cupcake fun!

I was stuck as to what to make though. Do I go with chocolate, which I knew the kids would love? Do I make the strawberry centered ones which went down pretty well the last time? Hmmm... in the end I decided on a classic - vanilla cupcakes. You couldn't go wrong with them, right?

I decided to try decorating them with royal icing instead of your common buttercream frosting. No idea why. Just fancied something different, I guess, and I remembered they tasted pretty good on the sugar cookies.

I decided to use an assortment of different coloured cases just to make it a bit more fun. Baby Sai had dibs on the pink. I had my eye on the yellow. Not that it mattered, they would all taste the same!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Royal Icing

THE RECIPE: Makes 12. Preheat oven to 170C/135F/ Gas Mark 3

For the cupcake
145g self raising flour
170g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
1tsp baking powder
50g unsalted butter
1 egg
145ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod

To decorate
1 egg white
1tsp lemon juice
140g icing sugar

First, you want to combine all your dry ingredients - the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and butter. Combine this all together until you get a sort of crumbly, sandy consistency. You can do this with an electric whisk (a kitchen aid being the best kind) but because mine is a handheld and sends stuff flying everywhere I prefer to do this bit by hand. It doesn't take too long but just make sure you don't have long finger nails because you'll end up with bits stuck in them!

Combine your wet ingredients - the egg and milk - in a seperate bowl. Throw in the inside of a vanilla pod in there too and give the whole thing a quick whisk. Then gradually pour this into your dry mixture (electric whisk sees some action here). Keep whisking until everythinng has been combined, and make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula - waste not, want not!

Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases two thirds of the way. Place them in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Now to decorate!

Whisk your egg white and lemon juice in a bowl and gradually add in your icing sugar a little at a time until you get stiff peaks.
Put a little bit of this into a piping bag and pipe a circle around each cupcake. This is so that the icing doesn't drip over the edge when you flood the cupcake with icing later. 

Let this ring of icing dry first before the next stage!

Seperate your icing into different bowls according to how many colours you want. I went with white, yellow, pink, brown, blue and green.

Add a TINY bit of water (I only needed half a teaspoon at most for each colour) to each bowl and stir until the icing is no longer stiff. The best word I can use to describe it is sloppy. Just make sure it's not too runny.

Then fill squeezes bottles with this icing (a different colour in each bottle) and use it to flood the surface of each cupcake.

You need to let this dry for a good few hours before topping with decorations.

Ever since I started this blog and became addicted to baking, I've began collecting a whole bunch of different edible cake decorations and toppers. I have a massive storage box full and was spoilt for choice when it came to the next part!

You can choose to add whatever toppings and sprinkles you like. I decided to go with an assortment of sugar flowers, hearts, a cow (pretty random), bees (not so random) and wafer flowers. I also brought out my favourite chocolate spread - Nutella. But, you can pretty much choose whatever you want. Go crazy!


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