I thought I’d make cupcakes. Simple, vanilla cupcakes. Because I’ve never made them before.
I thought it’d be a good idea because: it’s the cutesy go-to cake of every kitchen goddess (Gwyneth Paltrow, Lorraine Pascale, Nigella Lawson…) and you have to aspire to sumthink; Andy Murray had just won Olympic Gold, and cupcakes look prettier in blog pictures than pieces of salmon do.
Most of the time.
Don’t think Gwyn, Loz, and Nige have much to worry about.
I encountered a few bumps in the road. I didn’t have an electric whisk. As I don’t have Jessica Ennis’s arms nor the desire to spend an hour beating stuff together, I popped down to Sainsbury’s and bought a £20 Kenwood whisk.
Alas, my cupcake cases were too big for the cake tray holes, too. I also forgot how to beat an egg, but I Googled that. And I didn’t know what fold my flour into my butter and sugar mix meant. Fold? I know how to fold a towel. Three years working on BHS’s Home & Lighting department when I was a teenager saw to that, but fold flour? Hmmm… Youtube and Google were more trouble that it was worth, so I just made it up.
Not sure I really pulled it off but… oh well. In the end I was left with something that looked like a cake mix and when I tasted it, it brought back memories of childhood. “Maaaaaarm, can I lick the spooooon?”
Using that whisk? Well… At times it felt as if it had a life of its own, like it was going to push me out of the way and just make the cupcakes itself.
Anyway, here are the ingredients and the recipe and stuff.
Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
You will need:
110g of soft/room temperature butter or marg
110g of caster sugar
110g of self-raising flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten (hand-whisked or attacked with fork until eggs turn into yellow viscous liquid, cooking virgins)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp of milk
And this is what you need to do:
1) Pre-heat your oven to 180 and line your 12-hole tin with your cake cases (Don’t get big cake cases like I did. Unless you want to make big cakes.)
2) Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffyish. Cream means to whisk – ELECTRIC whisk, unless you’re Jess. Add the eggs to the mixture gradually, same with the vanilla flavouring.
3) FOLD in the flour using a big metal spoon, adding a tbsp or two of milk along the way to moisten it. God knows what fold really means – just make sure the flour is all mixed in and the batter looks thick, smooth and gloopsome.
4) Spoon mixture into case – but only halfway up.
5) Place in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Check after ten, you don’t want burnt stodgy cakes.
6) Test your cakes are done by inserting a thin metal skewer – or tooth pick – gently into the middle of the cake. If stick-thing comes out clean, your cakes are done. If they come out covered in batter, you need to do better. Well, you just need to let them cook a bit longer.
7) When done, leave them to cool for 20 minutes. Put them on a baking rack. I didn’t. I don’t have one so I just put them on a plate which made icing tricky.
8) Decorate. I can’t pretend to be an expert here. I just made icing sugar according to packet instructions, added a drop of yellow food colouring and then added nice toppings. I plan to get better at icing. But let’s not sprint before I can walk.
Well, not too bad for a first attempt actually. BF liked his – said it was light and fluffy but the icing was too sweet. Yup, it was too sweet and probably too thick. I want to make proper icing next time using my new piping kit (how did this even happen? I’ve never been interested in any kind of pipe before now). All in all, I’d say this lot are okay, a platform on which to build, a diving board from which to spring. I can be like the Tom Daley of the cake world, without the Speedos.
Vanilla Cupcake Making Stats
Kitchen cock-ups: Yes, there were a few. Including – oh my GARD – forgetting to sift my flour. And this last picture…obviously had some butter on my iPhone lens.
Spurred on by: A momentous weekend of Olympics. If Jessica Ennis can excel in, errm, several or more sporting disciplines I can bake a cupcake.
Soundtrack: the National Anthem. Seriously, how good are Team GB!
Feeling on opening the oven: Like a proud mum picking her child up after its first day at school. No, actually, more like a first-time mum who is relieved to see she has popped out a baby, rather than a Rosemary’s Baby. Or an alien.