Everywhere I go there is massive enthusiasm for cake.
Has there been a cake revival or have we always loved our cake this much?
Anyway, I think you should all bake cake this weekend. I promise it will pay dividends. Take a photo of it and with the help of few clever Instagram filters you can quadruple your returns. This is how I operate. Seriously I am not that good at baking (!) but there are no losses, especially when you find a few recipes you can trust. And I can help you there, having tried more than a few in my time. These days I return to the same recipes over again and I’m sharing these faithful few here on the blog.
Previously we have baked muffins here on the Dappled Things blog and as I have said a muffin is a robust cake that can be packed full of good stuff without doing any real damage to the substance of the cake. A muffin batter genuinely enjoys a bit of rough handling and will simply laugh in the face of any mistakes that occur in the making. You probably should go bake muffins if you are a nervous baker but if you are feeling a little more ambitious try a cupcake.
A cupcake is well dressed, well groomed and very very smart (compared to her country cousin; the muffin). A cupcake always dresses up to go out and is never seen without a gleaming coat of flawless pale icing and accessories: sugar-paste flowers, silver dragees and tiny pastel sprinkles. She is all vintage dresses and cute shoes, afternoon teas with thrifted tea cups and saucers, gilt edged and painted up with roses. She is sugar bowls with sugar cubes, silver sugar tongs, saucers with slices of lemon, cake stands in tiers with silver handles, doilies and white linen napkins. She is birthdays and weddings, afternoon tea parties in expensive hotels out in the country or down by the sea. She is vanilla and lemon, rosewater and lavender in an English cottage gardens or out amongst the fountains of an English stately home. Make her at home and you bring some of these things into your house.
Using the traditional creaming method to make such a cake will leave you too exhausted to ice her and enjoy her. There are too many stages and too many things to go wrong: the wooden spoon to cream the butter and the sugar, the whisk for the eggs, the trouble over curdling, the metal spoon anxiously cutting the flour into the softer ingredients without knocking out all that hard captured air. The dishwasher is full and you are nowhere near finished.
Forget it, there is an easier method.
Like my muffin method, this cupcake method is based on two bowls: one for dry ingredients and one for wet. The dry ingredient bowl is actually the bowl of your food processor and it is the food processor that will do all the hard work of ensuring you have a light and delicate sponge that is full of sweetness and air. I am indebted to the Hummingbird Bakery for this solution.
Make some cupcakes this weekend and send me a picture. Happy baking!
70g / 3 oz butter
210g / 7 oz plain flour
250g / 9 oz caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
210ml / 5 – 7 fl oz milk
Teaspoon of vanilla essence
1. Preheat the oven, 170 C / 325 F.
2. Line a deep muffin tin with 12 muffin cases (yes, a muffin tin not a bun tin).
3. Put the butter, flour, sugar and baking powder in the bowl of the food processor and blitz until it resembles very fine sand (you can not over-do this, super fine and filled with air is the aim).
4. In a second bowl or jug combine the milk, eggs and vanilla essence.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and blitz.
6. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases. They should be about one half to two thirds full and you may find this mixture makes more than 12 cupcakes.
7. Bake for 25 minutes, until the sponge is risen and lightly brown.
8. Allow the cakes to cool before icing and decorating. Display on a cake-stand or vintage porcelain plate.
Finally, for cupcake ideas and inspiration there is always, Pinterest.