Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Recipe: TEDxBrighton mini cupcakes

TEDx cupcakes, as baked by EJ
A couple of weeks ago, I embarked upon an epic baking marathon for TEDxBrighton. 350 cupcakes is the most I have ever baked in one session - 13 hours later, I had all of the cupcakes baked, cooled, iced, decorated and boxed up ready to go. This was a satisfying, if exhausting, moment. The cupcakes were fairy cake sized mini cupcakes (I never feel as though you get enough cake with actual mini cupcakes. In this sense, fairy cakes seem like a good compromise as they re-balance the pivotal sponge:icing ratio).

Now you can bake your own- and you don't even need to bake 350, this recipe makes a sensible 18. If 18 cakes is too many for you - these bad boys also freeze particularly well (un-iced) - just make sure you wrap them tightly to freeze, being sure to unwrap them fully to defrost (so you avoid soggy cake). This is a recipe for some good old fashioned vanilla cupcakes.

A note on the method:
I've used an electric hand mixer to make the sponge - I cannot recommend an electric mixer highly enough. I was always the girl who hand mixed the cake batter - until I was commissioned to bake a wedding cake for two very dear friends, when I decided to invest in an electric hand mixer. (Never will I go back to simply hand mixing cake batter again - I achieved an extra 3/4" inch per sponge. It was incredible.) However, if you don't have an electric hand whisk and are doing things the old fashioned way, I'd recommend you start by creaming the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs, vanilla extract and yogurt and mix to combine, then sift in the flour and pour on oil and mix to combine.

I always use silicone cupcake moulds to keep the shape of the fairy cake cases (instead of a cupcake tray) - I just find this easier.

I got the printed icing toppers from an awesome company called Cakes Crazy - you can upload your own design, photo or logo and they'll print it onto icing for you using edible inks. Wonderful. My advice with these little icing disks would be to only add them to the cakes at the last minute - I had applied them the night before, while they were ok the next day, they were definitely crisper to begin with.

For the cakes (makes 18 fairy cake sized cakes)
150ml yogurt
100g caster sugar
150ml sunflower oil
2 eggs (separated)
1tsp vanilla extract
200g self raising flour

For the buttercream icing (ices 18 cakes)
200g butter (soft at room temperature)
400g icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 160C

How to: baking
Whisk up the egg whites using an electric hand mixer until they form soft peaks. Then gradually add the sugar, whisking in on a relatively low power setting until combined.

Gently whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla extract until just combined. Then pour in the oil and yogurt, folding the mixture slowly so that you don't reduce the volume too much. Carefully sift in the flour and fold the mixture until fully combined.

Spoon the cake batter into 18 fairy cake cases (until approx 3/4 full), bake at 160C for 12-15 minutes (until just golden). Remove from the oven. Once they are cool enough to handle, remove the fairy cakes from the silicone moulds and leave to cool on a wire rack.

How to: icing
Cream the butter and icing sugar together by hand, stirring in the vanilla extract. Prepare an icing bag with a large star nozzle and spoon the mixture in. Pipe on to the top of the cooled cakes in a swirl, starting from the outside and finishing with the tip.

Enjoy - I'd love to hear from you if you bake these, so please do let me know how the recipe works for you :)

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