Monday, June 14, 2010

Vanilla Cupcakes and Royal Icing Flowers

Yes, my new piping tips have arrived. I am thrilled. Not having a cake to decorate on the day that they came, I decided to whip up come royal icing and make sugar drop flowers. The next day, not knowing what to do with a rather large pile of sugar flowers, I baked cupcakes.

I really like cupcakes. Perhaps now more than ever before. I know that they've been gaining popularity for some time now, and so I'm probably a little late in saying this. But I really like cupcakes.

They're the perfect size for a sweet treat that isn't crippling with guilt. The recipes are easy to double or halve as I see fit. They're wonderful for giving away to friends and family. They're very cute. And they're yummy.

The first twelve of mine went into the oven that was accidentally overheated to 220°C, and were promptly forgotten about, so they came out slightly darker than intended with strange, scary, lopsided domes. But my dogs enjoyed them immensely. 

Royal Icing

2 large egg whites
3 cups of icing sugar
1tsp lemon juice (optional)

Beat the eggwhites until frothy (with the lemon juice if using). Gradually add the icing sugar while beating, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the icing is at the consistency you want it. It should barely be able hold a peak if you're using it to ice cookies, or a little stiffer if you're piping decorations. Cover the royal icing when not using as it can dry out very quickly.

For piping flowers, scoop out as you need and colour it as you like. Fill a piping bag fitted with a drop flower tip. Pipe onto baking paper with the pastry tip literally touching the paper. Hold the piping bag at a 90° angle to the surface you're piping on and twist as you squeeze. Lift only when the flower is complete. If you like, you can then go over all your flowers and pipe a center onto all of them.

Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes about 45 mini cupcakes.

100g butter
185g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla bean paste (or the seeds scraped from one vanilla bean)
2 large eggs
200g self raising flour
1/2cup milk

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each. Add the flour and milk in alternate batches and fold in with a spoon.

Spoon mixture into mini cupcake tin lined with paper cupcake cases. Fill them only about half full, as the cake will rise during baking. Bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes or until cooked (test with skewer) and slightly golden on top.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

90g egg whites (about 3)
160-180g white sugar, depending on how sweet you want it
250g butter, or thereabouts, softened

Boil a small amount of water in a smallish saucepan and turn down to a simmer. Place the egg whites with the sugar in a large bowl and put it on top of the simmering water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar over the heat until the sugar is melted, and the mixture feels smooth when you rub it between your fingers.

Take off the heat, and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form and the mixture is cooled. At this stage begin to add the butter, a little at a time, until all of it has been added. Your buttercream may appear to curdle, but keep beating and it will come together.

I piped my cupcakes with a closed star tip and a leaf tip. Feel free to pipe whatever you want onto yours.

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