Friday, 22 March 2013

Tutorial: Bird's nest Easter cupcakes

Easter nest cupcakes with marzipan birds, as made by EJ
I love Easter baking, actually I just love Easter, it feels like such an optimistic time of year (generally) signalling a change of season. I still have my fingers crossed that some miracle will reverse the dreary forecast and that spring will emerge within the next week, but if not- at least it's the season of chocolate :)   

I was recently contacted by Renshaw, who kindly sent me a marzipan gift pack along with the challenge of breathing new life into what can only be described as the marmite of the cake world. I think marzipan is great and I love the rich almondy flavour, but it does seem to have a bit of a bad rep. Despite its wonderfully pliable nature, it really is an ingredient that is routinely under-used. In fact, aside from marzipan fruit (which can be incredible works of artistry), the only other seasonal use I've really seen is the 11 balls on a simnel cake. It's definitely time marzipan had a reputation make-over!

Renshaw marzipan, golden marzipan and chocolate flavoured icing
I'll be developing a few Easter marzipan ideas over the next week - this tutorial is for Easter nest cupcakes. The chocolate icing nest contains three colourful marzipan birds and a golden marzipan egg.

To make these you will need:
Chocolate buttercream frosting
Renshaw marzipan
Renshaw chocolate flavoured ready to roll icing
Food colouring gel in orange, yellow, blue, pink and green
A black food colouring pen
Gold edible spray paint

A rolling pin
A sharp knife
A cocktail stick
A small leaf plunger cutter
A pallet knife
Golden marzipan eggs
Roll some of the marzipan into egg shapes (approximately 10mm diameter). Leave these to dry for a couple of hours before colouring them using the gold edible spray paint. Leave to dry while you assemble the nest.

Marzipan coloured with a few drops of gel food colouring
Colour chunks of marzipan by kneading in a few drops of each food colouring. By hand, roll the pink, blue and yellow marzipan into three small balls (approximately 10mm diameter), set these to one side.

The beaks
Roll out the orange marzipan until it is 3mm thick, use the sharp knife to cut out thin triangles approximately 5mm in length, these will be the beaks -  set these to one side.
Chocolate icing twigs
By hand, roll the chocolate flavoured icing into strings  3-4mm wide and 60mm in length - these will be the twigs of the nest.

Ice the cupcakes with the chocolate buttercream using a pallet knife for a smooth finish.
Building the nest
Layer on the icing twigs to build a nest.

Building the nest #2
Building the nest #3
Leave a space in the centre of the nest large enough to house the golden egg and three marzipan balls.

Carefully place the golden egg and three of the coloured marzipan balls into the nest. Stick two of the orange triangles onto each ball to create a beak, then use the food colouring pen to dot two eyes on each bird.

Roll out the green marzipan until it is approximately 3mm thick and use the plunger cutter to cut out a leaf shape, drape this across one side of the nest.

Gently press the side of the cocktail stick repeatedly across the nest to add a more rustic twig-like texture.

A very easy way to create cute spring cupcakes - a great addition to your Easter celebrations.

Stay tuned for more marzipan ideas. If you're getting stuck into some Easter baking over the next week, it's worth entering Renshaw's Easter baking competition - you could win tickets to the Cake & Bake show in April- including the opportunity to hone your sugar crafting skills at one of the event's fantastic workshops.

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