I had lunch the other day at what must surely now be the exact hipster epicentre of this city. I don’t think it had an epicentre before; it was just a nebulous region with a slightly higher concentration of hipsters than other areas. But this little café must surely have become like hipster Mecca since it has opened. Everything is just. so. ironic. From the astroturf flooring with kitschy lawn ornaments, to the creepy foot-shaped salt and pepper shakers originally souvenired from some obscure Western Australian mining town then brought to the table via the box in your crazy aunt’s attic, to the big, brightly coloured plastic cups that make you feel like you’re not old enough to be allowed to use fancy glassware just yet.
Oh and it was full of hipsters. One was wearing a dress with a cartoon dinosaur on it and a very serious expression on her face (the hipster, not the dinosaur, the dinosaur looked quite happy). The hipster couple seated in front of me wearing socks with sandals and expensive-looking architectural quiffs ordered massive soft-serve ice cream sundaes as their entrée (studded with sprinkles and cheap wafers), followed by hotdogs with potato chips out of a packet as their main. So. ironic.
For the record, I really have nothing against hipsters, except maybe when they take themselves too seriously. But then I wonder if taking yourself too seriously is an essential criterion for being a true hipster. They’re a fascinating bunch of people to look at and wonder about (“Why did she decide to use a bulldog clip to hold her skirt up? Was it for practical or aesthetic reasons?”) and hey, at least they’re expressing themselves creatively through their appearance… I think…
The point of all this is that at this hipster café, one of the things I ordered was a malted chocolate milkshake. Of course it was served festooned in multi-coloured sugar sprinkles, which even my 6-year-old niece would have possibly found lacking in sophistication (she of the “I want a cake made out of a mountain of doughnuts” fame), but it was such a good milkshake. I had forgotten how much I like malt. So there and then I resolved to make multiple (OR MALTIPLE! HA! HA!) recipes to showcase its fantasticness.
And given my history of forcing red velvet cake into strange new formats and unfamiliar territory, it was at the top of the list for a malt-based transformation. Transformation is probably a bit of an overstatement — this is just a normal red velvet cake plus about a dozen tablespoons of malt. But the flavours work so well together. I would consider not making a normal red velvet cake ever again; I think I might prefer it with the addition of malt.
This red velvet cake recipe is based on this one from Yum Sugar, which is basically the only one I’ve ever used because it works so perfectly. I’ve slightly adapted the recipe as well as converting it into metric and preferably weight measurements where possible, because I just will never understand why you would want to apply volumetric measurements to ostensibly solid things like butter.
170g unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
1/4 tsp salt
1 bottle of red food dye (50ml)
3 tbs lukewarm water
350g plain flour
3 tbs cocoa powder
5 tbs malt powder*
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tbs white vinegar
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment until fluffy and light (about 5-10 minutes). Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well after each one. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if necessary. Add the vanilla, salt, dye and lukewarm water and mix well.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, malt powder and baking powder into a bowl. Add about 1/3 of this into the other mixture and start beating, then slowly add about 1/3 of the buttermilk while the mixer is running. Add the next third of the dry ingredients and beat, followed by the next third of the buttermilk as before, and then repeat for the last time. Once the mixture is well combined, get a small bowl and put the bicarbonate of soda in it, then add the vinegar and whisk with a fork to make sure any lumps dissolve. Add this into the cake mixture and beat on medium speed for about 10 seconds.
Spoon the mixture into miniature cupcake papers lining the holes of a miniature cupcake pan, then bake for 8-10 minutes. Put a cake tester or skewer into one of the cakes to check if it’s done — the skewer should come out clean. If you’re making normal sized cupcakes, they take about 13-15 minutes. Once out of the oven, leave the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes (they’re very delicate when still hot) then carefully remove them onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
250g cream cheese
60g unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla paste
1/2 cup icing sugar
80g malt powder*
Cream the cream cheese and butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Add the vanilla paste and beat. Sift in the icing sugar and malt powder and beat again until combined. Spread it over the cooled cupcakes with a spoon. Eeeeeeat.
*I use Horlicks but I’m guessing there’ll be many different brands available depending on where you are. I usually have the choice between Horlicks (made by that friendly little company, GlaxoSmithKline) or Malted Milk (made by Nestlé, who I’d prefer not to buy from because amazingly enough they actually seem to be less ethical than a massive pharmaceutical company… plus at least GSK provides funding to legitimate scientific research**)
**None of the studies in my PhD project is funded by GSK, so I’m not flattering them for the cash moneys. One of my studies is ever so slightly funded by Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals and I’ll most likely be telling them what a piece of junk their poster-child ADHD medication is according to my research. Ha! Ha! No skulking shadow of Big Pharma on this blog! (Yet…)