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

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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!

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!