They were really nice and everything, but they're not exactly difficult, or spectacular, or unusual.
They're just cupcakes.
I partly made them as an exercise in frosting, which (as I have mentioned before) I tend to avoid like the plague. I dug out my piping set and decorated them with nice swirly spirals. Although it wasn't fantastic by any means, I was pretty pleased with the results.
They were also an exercise to prove - partly to myself, but primarily to other people - that you really don't need to use chemical leavening to make cake. Let me say it again, because I think some people still won't believe me. You don't need to use any kind of leavening in cakes.
That means you don't need baking powder, you don't need bicarbonate of soda, you don't need self-raising flour. I made these cupcakes using plain flour and nothing else, and you can see how much they're risen - they're positively exploding out of the cases.
They were also made to satisfy a sudden chocolate cupcake craving, for which they did an excellent job. All-round pretty successful cupcakes, I'd say.
And, of course, easy to make too!
- They were based on my Essence of Cake post. That means equal parts of flour, fat, eggs and sugar.
- I used a batch of 200g Butter, 200g Sugar, 200g Eggs (4 Eggs), and 200g Flour. Except! I actually swapped 50g of four for cocoa powder. So that's 150g Flour, and 50g Cocoa Powder. My batch made about 12 cupcakes.
- I used the sponge cake method. So first, beat together the eggs and sugar for a few minutes using an electric beater. If you're not using any leavening (and you don't need to!), then this stage is extra important. This is the only way you get any air into your batter, so don't rush it. Beat it for a good three or four minutes at least, until it's increased in volume and gone really pale and bubbly.
- Now just add everything else. First the melted (and slightly cooled) butter, and then the flour and cocoa powder. Try to fold it in fairly carefully so you don't lose all of your bubbles.
- Bake at about 180C until done. Depending on your oven, could be fifteen to twenty-five minutes.
I said they were easy!
Now, I made frosting too. I've never made it before but I looked at a few recipes and sort of guessed. I wanted to use real chocolate rather than cocoa powder to make it, just because that seemed right. So I just went for equal parts of butter, icing sugar, and melted chocolate. I used about 100g of each. First I mixed the butter and icing sugar until it was smooth and creamy, and then I just mixed in the melted chocolate until it was all combined.
There is a slight problem with this type of frosting. Because it's made of butter, ideally it should be kept in the fridge, otherwise it will go melty and not last as long. But, because it's made of chocolate, when you leave it in the fridge it goes really hard - harder than you want frosting to be. So, my solution is to take the cupcakes out of the fridge a while before you plan on eating them. But I'll be working on frosting more in future, and try to solve this problem some other way.
Then I used a star-shaped piping nozzle to pipe it onto the cupcakes into a sort of spiral. Towards the end, I couldn't squeeze it out of the bag anymore, so I just spooned it out and spread it into a swirly pattern, which is why some of them look different to the others.