(Again, sorry for the complete lack of updates recently. I’m coming up to one of the sets of assessment for my PhD so I’m just not baking much, or I’m just making not particularly photogenic things like tremendous amounts of felafel. However I do promise to get around to sharing my recipe for the dealing-with-stress-and-large-amounts-of-work culinary coping device that I pretend is brain food but is really just an ungodly number of ingredients thrown together with the wide-eyed fervour of a brilliant madman.)
The never-ending quest to transform red velvet into as many formats as possible has branched out in a new direction — not red, just velvet. Same fantastic texture, no longer limited by that oh-so-passé red colour and cocoa-vanilla flavour…
… I’m sorry, red velvet, I take that back. I didn’t mean to call you passé, what I really meant was avant garde, nouvelle vague, other appropriated French phrases, etc.
Spiced vanilla white velvet cupcakes
170g butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbs lukewarm water
380g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
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 and lukewarm water and mix well.
Sift the flour, mixed spice and baking powder into a bowl. Add about 1/3 of this dry ingredient mixture into the mixture in the electric beater’s bowl 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.
Chai buttercream icing
100g butter, softened
500g icing mixture*, sifted
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tsp cardamom**
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
*i.e. powdered/icing/confectioner’s sugar mixed with cornflour to prevent clumping, just in case it goes by a completely different name in your part of the world.
**I never really realised how important cardamom is to the whole chai flavour until I started researching the relative quantities of the spices in chai. There you go. Don’t skimp on the cardamom.
Mix all the spices together in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment until pale and fluffy. Add half of the icing mixture and beat thoroughly, remembering to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the milk and vanilla paste and beat again until an even consistency. Add the rest of the icing mixture and beat very thoroughly again, on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Finally, add the spices in and beat until they’re evenly distributed.
This recipe makes enough buttercream icing to spread about half a centimetre thick over the cupcakes. I find buttercream to be incredibly sweet (kind of unavoidable when it’s basically just butter and sugar) so I usually don’t put much on the cakes if I’m using it (it’s a completely different story if I’m doing something less sweet like a cream cheese icing; I’ll pile that junk on). If you’re better at handling extremely sweet things, you can double the ingredient quantities and that will make enough to allow you to be more fancy with the icing, piping it on with nozzles or whatever.
Dust some mixed spice over the top of the icing and it’s done.