Peppermint Tea Cupcakes

I have had my eye on these cupcakes for a really long time but I always end up drinking my supply peppermint tea and completely forgetting to bake anything!

This time I was determined to follow through and bought a whole new stash of teabags for the occasion. However, In true Diary of a Bake-A-Holic style I didn’t read the recipe until I wanted to start baking; I realised you have to let the teabags brew in water for 30 minutes and also in the milk used for icing. I took this as an excuse to have a tea-break (peppermint tea, of course) and got out my book to entertain me while I waited.

Two cups of tea and a few chapters later I was asked if I was actually going to bake; I looked up confused and realised an hour had already passed! Eek! I jumped up to get on with the baking.

The recipe follows the standard Hummingbird Bakery method, mix dry ingredients with butter; mix wet ingredients together; then whip it all up together until nice and smooth.

Peppermint Tea Cupcakes

This was distributed amongst 24 cupcake cases (I doubled the batch to take some to work the next day) and cooked in the oven for around 20minutes.  Once they were out to cool I started on the icing, which was again the same method of butter icing but with pre-brewed peppermint tea milk.

The icing smelt absolutely divine and I have to confess, I did end up ‘tasting’ it a few times before I even decorating the cupcakes! I finally managed to get the icing in a piping bag and used a ‘Wilton 2D’ nozzle to pipe a small rose in the centre of each cupcake.  They went into cupcake boxes and were shipped to work the next day.

I couldn’t actually wait till the next day to try them out so tried one out after dinner with a cup of … you guessed it, peppermint tea.

These cupcakes are quite sweet so may not be to everyone’s taste.  The sponge itself has a really subtle hint of peppermint and is delicious enough to have on its own.  The icing comes out quite sweet but you the delicate taste of peppermint still comes through.  These cupcakes are very addictive so be prepared to have more than one! They have become another favourite cupcake recipe by the Hummigbird Bakery; I can’t wait to try some out some other tea-based delights.

Peppermint Tea Cupcakes

The 2-4-1: Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Need I say more? Even the name of these scrumptious little delights get my mouth watering, metaphorically … and a little literally!

I’ve made these cupcakes before and was more than happy to make them again; my excuse this time being that it had been a while since I’d taken anything to the office and my colleagues were suffering from baked-good-withdrawal-symptoms.  Ahem … any excuse to bake!

These cupcakes followed the pretty basic vanilla cupcake recipe; to be honest the hardest part of the challenge was not to eat all the strawberries before they could be used.  I tend to follow a one-for-you / one-for me strategy when it comes to strawberries and have resorted to buying twice the amount in the recipe just so there’s enough for everyone.

This time there was the challenge of not eating the cupcakes when I was chopping them up, and when I was distributing them among the cupcake cases. I’m a hopeless case!

Despite all these setbacks, I did manage to distribute the chopped up strawberries to all the cupcake cases and quickly filled the cases with batter  (up to 2/3rds full).  I figured this would stop me eating any more strawberries!

The cupcakes took around 25 minutes to bake – as my oven has randomly decided to take much more time to cook anything – and came out a light golden brown. Yum. The first cupcake went straight to my mum, as she didn’t want any cream-cheese frosting (wtf?!). The rest went onto a wire rack to cool down while I made my icing.

It is the icing/decoration that turns these strawberry cupcakes into cheesecake cupcakes.  I whipped up a batch of Hummingbird Bakery cream cheese frosting, and twirled it in the famous Hummingbird Bakery style.  Once this was done I crushed up a few digestive biscuits and sprinkled them on top of the icing.

The cupcakes were packed up and taken to work the next day – all 24 were gone by lunchtime!  Thankfully I did manage to get my hands on a cupcake to ‘taste test‘ before they all disappeared.

What can I say about this recipe? It’s literally a two-for-one situation: the strawberry cupcake on the bottom is tasty enough on it’s own, but add the ‘cheesecake’ part on top – what else could you want in life?

Better Than A Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

I flaked on going out with a friend the other week and promised I’d make it up to him. He decided it that I could make it up by baking something with chocolate and orange. This was when a little light bulb turned on in my head and I remembered a recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery book for Chocolate Orange cupcakes.

The surprising thing about this recipe, however, was that it also used vanilla essence … hmm. I have to admit I was a bit sceptical while making the cupcakes, I thought there would be too many different flavours going on.  But, as always, I put my trust in the Hummingbird Bakery and powered through.

The cupcakes were made in the standard Hummingbird way, mixing all the ‘wet’ ingredients e.g. butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla essence etc. with all the ‘dry’ ones.  Once everything was incorporated and the batter was smooth. I used smaller, UK sized cupcake cases and managed to get 24 cupcakes out of the batter.

 

After twenty minutes in the oven, out came some great smelling, and perfectly flat cupcakes.  I was so happy! It’s been ages since they’ve come out looking so nice.

I let them cool and made up the icing, which consisted of icing sugar, butter, cream cheese, orange zest and cocoa powder.  Now I’ve finally learnt that you can’t pipe icing with any bits in it, no matter how well you mix it. So I went for the typical Hummingbird Bakery swirl and put a few chocolate stars on each to decorate.

 

A box of these cupcakes went to work with me the next day, as I seriously doubted my friend could work his way through 24 of them.  I got to work at 9am with the intention not to try one, but I caved by 11am and had a cupcake with my tea, for taste testing reasons, of course.

Now I’ve never actually had a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, but the cupcakes taste exactly how I imagine them to be.  A colleague actually said they tasted better, and another described the cupcakes as ‘heaven’.  Well, you can’t get a compliment better than that!

Personally I really liked the taste and was pleasantly surprised that all the different flavours worked so well.  The vanilla essence actually helped to develop the orangey flavour.  The icing is beautifully smooth and unbelievably tasty.  Definitely one to bake again!

Who Needs A Coffee When You Have an Espresso Cupcake

So the second set of cupcakes I baked for the ‘Volunteer Reading Help’ cake sale at work were the Espresso Cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book.

For the first time in a long time, I was smart enough to read the recipe a while before I started baking; so I knew that I needed to warm the milk first in order to dissolve the espresso powder and let it cool again.

A definite great start! The recipe then follows the standard Hummingbird route: mix all the ‘dry’ ingredients with the butter, then the ‘wet’ ingredients together, and finally whisk these in in two batches.

The batter was filled into cupcake cases and put into the oven for about 20 minutes. You can tell the cupcakes are ready when your kitchen starts smelling like a coffee shop!

 

While the cupcakes were cooling, I heated up some more milk and mixed in some espresso powder, ready to make the icing once it had cooled again – this time I was less patient and put the milk mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes.  The icing was made by mixing the butter and icing sugar and gradually adding the milk and whisking on high until smooth.

I used a Wilton 2D nozzle to create a whipped twirl effect on the cupcakes.  A while ago I was asked to make videos of how I ice cupcakes but I have either forgotten, not had the equipment or created rubbish videos.  For once, I managed to make a half decent video, which you can find here. Hopefully, it’ll give you a better idea on how I managed it.

For the final touch, I used small pieces of dark chocolate on top of the twirls.  The cupcakes were packed and sold the next day at the cake sale.  I actually bought one of these (as it just seems wrong to take one) and really enjoyed it.  I’m not the biggest fan of very strong coffee so was intrigued how these cupcakes would turn out and was pleasantly surprised.  The coffee flavour nicely offset the sweetness of the cupcake, the dark chocolate also giving it a nice kick.

The more of these coffee cakes I bake the more I like them. They are a great alternative to the really sweet options out there.

A Piper’s Dream

We had a charity cake a few weeks back and I was one of the many people who decided to bake for it.  I wanted to do something a bit different, i.e. try out some piping skills, so decided on a big vanilla sponge with a difference.

I used the vanilla cupcake recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery books and doubled the amount, put them into 3 cake tins and baked them for roughly 40 minutes. I had some batter left over so made some small cupcakes as well.

While the cakes were cooling, I used some white and green fondant and cut out a selection of big and small flowers and leaves and left them to set and harden.

I cut the top off all three cakes to make a really straight, smooth surface to work on.  I doubled the Hummingbird Bakery buttercream icing recipe and started assembling the cake.  I put a layer of icing inbetween each layer and made a ‘crumb coat’ around the outside of the cake. This is essentially a thin layer of icing to pack in all the crumbs.  I left this to harden a bit before I started to decorate.

Now, I’ve been a follower of Arty Cakes for a while and absolutely love what they do with their piping. So I used their basket weave concept as inspiration for this cake.  I started by spreading a thicker, and hopefully smoother layer of icing on the top of the cake.  I’m absolutely rubbish at this and even with a straightening tool had a lot of trouble getting it perfect.

I then split the rest of the icing and coloured the larger portion pale green.  This went into a piping bag with a basket weave decorating tip; I used Wilton’s no. 47.

To start the basket weave, pipe a vertical line on the cake.  Then, start at the bottom and draw a horizontal line across the vertical one.  Leave a space the size of the nozzle above and pipe another horizontal line above that etc. till you get to the top.  You then draw another vertical line next to the first one and pipe horizontal lines in the gaps (I hope this all makes sense!). You continue this all the way around the cake.

Now my biggest problem was my improvised piping bag.  I currently only have a large piping bag, which was too big for the nozzle I was using, so I used a sandwich bag with the corner cut off instead.  When you squeezed the piping bag, however, a small hole would often appear, which made it really hard to get any icing out at all, let alone evenly. My poor dad was there with the duck tape, taping any holes as they came!  With his help I finally managed to finish the basket weave and started on the top edges.

I used the Wilton 17 nozzle with the remaining buttercream icing to tidy to outside edge of the cake.  To achieve this effect hold the piping bag horizontally, squeeze quite hard while holding the bag still and gently remove pressure as you move the bag sideways.  Again I had problems with my piping bag and couldn’t squeeze too hard in case the bag decided to explode!

To finish the cake off, I stuck the fondant flowers and leaves onto the top of the cake with a little buttercream in whatever arrangement I thought looked good. This was at 2am however so my idea of ‘good’ may have been a little off at the time!

The last job of the night was to decorate the cupcakes. I used the Wilton 2D nozzle to make little roses in the centre of the cupcake and used spare fondant flowers and leaves to decorate the side.

Both the cupcakes and the big cake went down a treat at the bake sale and lots of money was raised for ‘Volunteer Reading Help’. A job well done and a hell of a lot of fun with the piping – only next time I might have to invest in some better piping bags!

What’s Better Than a Hot Chocolate on a Cold Winter’s Day?

I have three loves in life: music, books, and baking.  Today I got to mix two of them together.

We had a meeting at work today to discuss the amazingness of a book called ‘Pear Shaped’ that will be released in January.  Yes I used the word amazingness people, it’s that good – I started reading it last night and I had to ask my mother to hide the book from me while I write this blog.  And what is it about??? A pudding taster!

So how did this meeting connect to two of my loves?  Well, we had a great book to discuss and what better way to discuss it than over a nice afternoon tea – each person contributed and baked a cake for the meeting.

I actually had a bit of trouble choosing which cake to bake; I’m still new there so I couldn’t make anything too flashy that screamed ‘show-off’, but didn’t want to make something boring either. After spending way too much time looking at pictures in the books, I finally chose the Hot Chocolate Cupcakes.

These sound a lot more difficult to bake than they actually are; the hardest part of the recipe is heating the milk and stirring in the cocoa powder! Otherwise the recipe pretty much follows the same pattern.  Mix up the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt while the chocolate milk dries; then hand whisk the eggs into the chocolate milk and pour into the ‘dry ingredients’ and whisk.

The batter was a bit runnier than what I’m used to, so you’d think pouring it into the cupcake cases wouldn’t be hard… Wrong.  I somehow managed to drop the bowl onto a few packages of empty cupcake cases, which caused a knock on effect and essentially ended up in right mess.  I had to pour some batter back into the bowl from squished cases, replace them and start again.

I finally managed to get everything wiped down and clean again; the cupcakes went into the oven for 20minutes and came out smelling like the most amazing hot chocolate.  I got told off yet again for making the house smell too yummy by family members and had to give them warm cupcakes to compensate.

Once the cupcakes cooled I moved onto the icing.  It was now around midnight and I realised that I only had half the amount of icing sugar needed. Typical.  I made do and whisked up the icing.  The lack of icing meant that any fancy ideas for piping went out the window – I resorted to the trusty ‘Hummingbird Bakery Swirl’ with some chocolate sprinkles.

I treated myself to a ‘Yay, I’ve finished’ cupcake and some milk before I collapsed into bed.  I was worried that the cake would taste like a standard chocolate cupcake and that the recipe was just a fancy name.  Thankfully I was wrong; the cake was beautifully moist and didn’t have the richness of a chocolate cupcake – it actually tasted like hot chocolate.

The cupcakes went down a treat at the afternoon tea; in fact all the cakes at the tea party were beautiful. After some strenuous taste testing, I can say that they were all lovely!   There was so much that we also managed to hold an impromptu cake sale for a charity as well. Go team!

So what, you may ask, is better than a hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day?  It’s a hot chocolate cupcake with a cuppa’ and a bloody good book on a cold winter’s night!

A Halloween Treat

For Halloween this year I was determined to make two things that were thankfully related:  carve my first pumpkin, and make pumpkin cupcakes.

Now the first part, carving my first pumpkin, was actually a lot easier than it seemed.  The hardest part was trying to get enough pumpkin out to make the cupcakes with, after that it was a case of carving without trying to cut any fingers off.

The pumpkin cupcakes were a bit harder to carry out, I firstly had no idea what pumpkin puree was or how to find it in a supermarket! Thankfully my mum came to the rescue and made some puree with the insides of my pumpkin.  Phew!

Actually making the cupcakes seemed pretty easy; you mix the ‘dry’ ingredients in one bowl, then add the ‘wet’ ingredients to the mix.  I think this is where I made two mistakes. Firstly the pumpkin puree itself seemed to have too much water in it, even though we squeezed as much moisture out as possible.  Secondly, it was really hard to mix the puree in evenly, so I must have over-mixed the batter.

The batter was spooned into the cases and into the oven for 25 minutes.  They came out sunken, which was because of the over-mixing, but otherwise smelt great.  The pumpkin and the cinnamon make a great smelling team!  Another thing I noticed however was that the bottom of the cupcake cases were really greasy; I put this down to the moisture in the pumpkin.

I made up the cream cheese frosting, twirled in the famous Hummingbird Bakery style, dusted it with cinnamon and distributed the cupcakes among neighbours and friends.  Everyone loved the taste and said it was really lovely and moist.  I had some issues however; again I think It was because of the two mistakes I made, but the cake itself seemed too moist for me and I felt like it stuck to the roof of my mouth.  Once you get past that, the actual taste is good; I’ve never had pumpkin anything before but the cinnamon used in the recipe really complimented the taste and texture of the pumpkin.

I would make these cupcakes again, even if it was purely because everyone else liked it so much, but I would take more time to perfect the puree next time.

A New Way to Make Chocolate Cupcakes

Welcome to the final instalment of this crazy cupcake trilogy.  Just a recap for those of you that are new to the blog; I agreed to bake 100 cupcakes for a big party and decided on three different Hummingbird recipes, the last of which were the scrumptious Malted Chocolate Cupcakes.

The recipe for these cupcakes are very different to your normal recipe; firstly there’s no butter. I prepared the sunflower oil/egg/buttermilk/etc. mix and the dry ingredients separately; then it was the case of adding the dry to the wet, and poured in some boiling water in as well (why I have no idea!).  Now my best tip would be to NEVER bake when tired. At this point, it was late in the day and I had to double check how much of each ingredient I put in as I kept thinking I put in the wrong amount  – basically I made a lot more drama than was necessary. Oh dear.

These finally went into 30 muffin cases and into the oven (as doubling up the recipe I always manage to get more than 24!).  Once out they were left to cool and smelt exactly the same as normal chocolate cupcakes; something I, for some reason, didn’t expect.

Now, the icing was just as confusing as the baking part of this recipe. There’s three parts to making the icing; first the chocolate chips were melted, while the cream cheese and caster sugar is mixed, and finally the cream and malted milk is whisked to make soft peaks.  What are soft peaks?!?!?! I personally had no idea and made a guess.  Luckily I actually think it was at the right point and managed to mix in the sugar and chocolate together before folding in the cream.

My biggest mistake of the whole day was that I somehow didn’t get enough malted milk (aka Horlicks for those of you who, like me, have no idea what it is), which meant that I could only make one batch of icing instead of two.  After a mini panic attack I decided to make the one batch and hope (and pray) that I could use it for 30 cupcakes instead of 12!

Someone up there was on my side and I did manage to get enough icing on all of the cupcakes; I did put this down to a few family members ‘testing’ some of them and thus reducing the number I actually needed to ice!

The cupcakes were twirled in the trusty Hummingbird Bakery style and 3 Maltesers were put on top for decoration.  Of course I bought enough Maltesers so that it would be three for a cupcake, one for me!

 

The cupcakes were actually really nice; after doing my standard taste test I realised I actually really liked the taste.  I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate cakes or icing but these were different and weren’t as rich.  I was also a bit worried about the icing because it had cream in it but it was a really nice suprise.

These were the last batch to be boxed up and shipped off to the party.  Time for a well deserved cup of tea I think; better yet, a glass of wine… maybe even a bottle!

If Carlsberg Made Cupcakes, They’d Make Apple Blossom Cupcakes

This week was an interesting one and will be written as a three-part drama, just to drag things out a bit!  It was the birthday for the ‘elder’ (we’ll call her) of one of our close family friends and I offered to bake.  Now at the beginning I thought it would be one big cake for a party of 20; turns out it was actually 100 cupcakes for a BIG ass do.  Oops.

Oh well, can’t disappoint loved ones can you? I delved into the two Hummingbird Bakery books to look for a couple different recipes to bake so that there was a bit of variety.  This was my first mistake; it took me a day and a half to bake all the different types of cakes with my somewhat amateur equipment.  Ah well… I’ll take it as amazing experience as a baker.

Now, before I describe to you the amazingness of the first cupcakes I baked, I should provide this warning for all Apple Blossom cupcakes in general:  They smell beautiful! Yes I just used the world beautiful to describe a smell, that’s how good it is! Even if you have very good control over how many cakes you eat, be warned… you will want to eat them all.

The picture of the cupcakes in the book had a fondant flower on it so I decided to do a little more and put 5 on each cupcake. I rolled out some fondant, and cut out around 130 flowers of different sizes using cutters; a silver ball went into each and they were left on the side till the next day.

 

The first part of the recipe is to prepare the iced apple tea powder and oh my, it smells good.  I suggest making some extra just to drink for yourself, which is exactly what I did.  I did find it a bit hard to source it however, but to make your search is a bit easier, the Turkish Apple Instant Tea from Whittards is perfect. The rest of the recipe is as expected, mix wet with wet then dry with dry and mix together at the end.

These went into muffin cases and into the oven for 20 minutes. I doubled the recipe to get to the 24-cupcake target and ended up making 29 cupcakes.  They came out of the oven smelling even better than before, which I thought was impossible and one spare cupcake got immediately devoured by a parent (I shall not say which!); their excuse was taste testing so I let them get away with it.

 

Once cooled I got onto making the batter, which consisted of more yummy apple iced tea mixed with the milk and then the butter and icing sugar.  I coloured the icing yellow and managed to dye my fingers yellow in the process. Joy.

I then whipped out my amazing Wilton 2D nozzle, filled the bag with icing and started icing roses onto each cupcake.  Before the icing dried I placed a few fondant flowers on each.

These got packed away ready to go to the party.  Naturally I taste tested one before it went and wow.  Officially my favourite cupcake! I think you should all go and try it.  Right now.  DO IT!

Roses for my Roses…

I have been very inventive with my baking this week, well not really it was more boredom that lead me to my idea.  So, this week, I decided on making Rose cupcakes.  Could you tell from the title?

Here comes the creative bit, I decided to make little fondant roses to go on the rose icing for my rose cupcake. OK so not actually ingeniously creative but it let me while away the hours perfecting fondant roses.

Now for actually baking the cupcakes; they were very similar to the plain cupcake recipe but just had rose water replacing the vanilla essence.  For all those who didn’t manage to find it in their cupboard like I did; rose water can be found in the ‘world foods’ section of the supermarket.

The batter smelt beautiful and was spooned into muffin cases in cupcake tins (I still haven’t bought muffin tins) and put in the oven for 20 minutes to bake.

 

The cupcakes came out looking and smelling amazingly tasty and were set out to cool.  Rose water must just do something to make everything smell so much better. Just thinking about that smell makes me want to make more!

Onto the icing! It was again very similar to the standard buttercream icing recipe, just with rose water instead of vanilla essence.  In terms of decorating the cupcakes I went for a multi-coloured rose.  I separated about ¼ of the icing and used some red colouring to make it pink.  I then whipped out my Wilton 2D nozzle and put a thin layer of pink icing all around the icing bag.  Then I carefully filled the rest of the bag with the white icing and started piping roses onto the cupcakes.

 This created a really nice effect and made the roses come to life.  Then it was a matter of putting a few fondant roses on top and ta-da!

 

I absolutely love the taste of the rose cupcakes, the rose flavour really compliments cakes and I can’t wait to try out the lavender and jasmine alternatives.  Everyone should try this recipe asap!