I’m calling these baby shower show off cupcakes because that’s exactly what I’m doing! I made these for my niece’s surprise baby shower at the weekend and am ridiculously pleased with them, although there is no way I could contemplate making them for a living as they took me an absolute age.
I was lucky to have the help of a friend, Irene, who showed me how to do the icing toppers and gave me a recipe for the cupcakes, albeit being me, I tweaked it and made it my own because I just can’t resist. Irene insists that you need to use Lurpak unsalted butter in them – I didn’t in all of them – I used Tesco’s own and couldn’t tell the difference. I think it does need to be butter rather than marg though. My grandmother, like Mary Berry, felt that actually you should use half and half, and they are quite probably right but I didn’t have any marg left so all butter it was.
It is important to properly sift the flour and it may seem excessive to do it three times but it was what my grandmother did so……they do come out super light and fluffy as a result.
For the toppers, it really is worth investing in good sugar paste and for that I used Karen Davies marshmallow flavoured sugar paste. It really was good. She also does some really good quality silicone moulds too.
I tried with various sizes as a trial run and ended up using a size 16 ice-cream scoop for these, which fills an average cupcake case to just the right height. These come out slightly domed but not peaked and once you have put the butter cream on, the toppers sit quite nicely and flat on top.
Because these were for a special occasion and I wanted them all to look the same, I also used an oven thermometer and fiddled around with the temperature to keep it constant at 160C fan.
I’ve had mixed results from doubling up recipes in the past so when baking, I just don’t – I needed to make quite a few cakes so I simply made two batches. This recipe, using the size 16 scoop, gives exactly 24 cakes – with very little bowl lickage available (as you can see in the photo below)!
For the cupcakes
210g unsalted, room temperature butter
220g caster sugar, sifted and divided in half
4 large eggs, again at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (Irene uses a colourless vanilla flavouring but I used proper extract)
250g self-raising sponge flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons cornflour
5 tablespoons milk
Zest of one lemon, finely grated
Juice of two lemons
For the buttercream
500g icing sugar, sifted
250g room temperature, unsalted butter (and actually Lurpak is quite good for this as it is so pale)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 heaped tablespoons lemon curd
- Pre-heat the oven to 160C and line two, 12 hole cupcake tins with cupcake cases
- Triple sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder together and set aside
- Beat together the butter and half the sugar until pale and creamy, then beat in the lemon zest
- Add a couple of tablespoons of the flour mixture to the butter and beat that in (this stops the mixture curdling when you add in the eggs)
- Whisk the eggs with the other half of the sugar until pale and very fluffy, they should at least double in volume and then whisk in the vanilla and milk
- Pour the egg mixture into the butter and whisk until fully combined
- Add in the flour and lemon juice and whisk quickly until properly combined but do not over mix at this stage
- Using the ice-cream scoop and levelling off each time, divide into the 24 cases and quickly get them into the oven – this is because as soon as you make the flour and baking powder wet, it starts to react
- Bake for about 18 – 20 minutes – they won’t be dark when they are cooked but they will bounce back when you gently press the top
- Remove from the baking tin and cool completely on a rack
- Once the cakes are cool, make the butter cream by creaming the butter with an electric whisk, then add in the sifted icing sugar gradually until it is fully combined
- Add the vanilla and lemon curd and whisk further
- If the mix seems a little too stiff, add in some cooled boiled water to loosen it up. (You can use milk for this but any leftovers won’t last as long)
- Spoon a little of the mixture onto a cupcake and then using a small offset pallet knife spread evenly over the top then sit your sugar paste topper on top of that.