Thursday, March 1, 2012
And so, ladies and gentlemen, with the first of March now upon us, that was New Zealand's summer. Pretty pitiful as far as sunshine-hours go, and apart from a blind date, a weekend away and some quite cute phone calls, no substantial summer fling to report. I know, I know. I'm as disappointed as you are that this isn't a sass-filled post of debauchery and romance. Instead, new stockings and new boots and that blasted southerly. And cupcakes.
I've made red velvet cake before as you all know, and I've made cupcakes before and even though I have quite strong feelings about them, if we get over the snobbery and the saturation and the fact that sometimes they are pretty but over iced and not up to much, they really are just misunderstood, miniature, bursts of deliciousness, if made properly. They are impressive, hard to mess up and most importantly quick and easy. The other thing is that you'll usually have all the ingredients required in your pantry. I nearly, at the risk of sounding like a sleaze from the '80s, prefer the term babycakes, simply because they don't have the same connotations (there really are some terrible blogs and books and in fact shops out there dedicated to this over-popular baked good). But call them what you want, they are bite sized and they are dangerous(ly good).
A few Saturdays ago I went to a surprise birthday party. I love a good surprise, and since it was a belated birthday I thought cupcakes would go down a treat. With my beautiful new piping bag and having mastered buttercream, I went with that as a white icing and red velvet for the bottom. Not content with just red colouring and cocoa, I added a decent 3/4 cup of formerly frozen but rapidly defrosting raspberries (our freezer door somehow was left open and there was drippy bloody steak, melted ice and slushy berries to clean up before the baking began. Gross.)
The result was a very tasty combination of a rich raspberry flavoured soft and luscious cake, contrasted with my now-perfected vanilla swiss buttercream (which isn't mine at all, and is in fact smitten kitchen's buttercream, but I have now made it a multitude of times and nailed it, so there).
Raspberry Red Velvet Babycakes with Vanilla Buttercream
You could use cream cheese icing instead and still be really happy with yourself. Adapted from Edmond's.
125g butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup standard plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
3/4 cup frozen raspberries, defrosted slightly
1 tblsp cocoa
1 tblsp red food colouring
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add raspberries. Mix food colouring and cocoa together to form a paste and add. Sift flour and baking powder together over the creamed mixture and mix it all together gently and spoon into 24 mini muffin pans greased and lined with patty cases. Bake for 15 minutes at 190C.
When cool (or if you are impatient, or running late for a surprise party, when lukewarm) ice with buttercream using a piping bag. The buttercream recipe is available by clicking here, and the only advice I would give is, like the recipe says, once the butter is added you just persevere and whip, whip, whip.
And what of Autumn, Winter and Spring? Well, change is in the air and there are plenty of developments, ah, developing, with lots to look forward to. The winter of my discontent this most certainly will not be. I just have to stop walking out of gym classes part way through in disgust at the happy-clappy blonde instructor's cheesiness, and stop this 4pm Almond Gold habit I've managed to develop this week, and I'm pretty sure everything will be more than fine. Especially if there's cake involved.