As mentioned in my previous post on Chocolate and Cherry Cupcakes, I’d been asked by a colleague to make 12 cupcakes for her daughter-in-law’s baby shower. A quick consultation with my colleague confirmed that the baby’s gender wasn’t yet known, so the cakes needed to be gender-neutral, and the theming of the baby shower was fairly bright pastels. I spent lots of time on Flickr doing searches for baby cupcakes, christening cupcakes, baby shower cakes, etc, created a Flickr gallery of my favourites and then, after lots of inspiration, sketched out a design for the 12 cupcakes.
First, I made the lemon cupcakes – using my usual recipe. Except, annoyingly, I forgot to fill them with curd! I was so worried about getting the decoration right that I completely forgot the filling stage and by the time I remembered, it was too late! Never mind – I’m sure they’ll taste ok anyway.
Having had a practise at making chocolate cupcakes last week, it was finally time to make them. After deliberating, I decided to just make plain chocolate rather than chocolate and cherry. My preference would be the chocolate and cherry, however, I was asked for chocolate and decided to stick with that. Batch One was a disaster! Why do things always go wrong when you are baking for something special?! Everything went fine until I was measuring out the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Having done all the measuring and mixed it all together, I realised that I had grabbed my half tablespoon measuring spoon instead of my teaspoon measuring spoon. Stupidly, I decided to carry on anyway – deciding it wouldn’t make too much difference! Big mistake! Don’t know what I was thinking – the raising agent put into a mixture is vital and too much results in the cakes rising spectacularly and then sinking once taken out of the oven. And this is exactly what happened!
So, Batch One will be heading to EHH’s work – edible but definitely not pretty! On to Batch Two. Careful measuring out this time, with the correct spoon! The recipe says that it makes 14 but I made 16 and they still ended up spilling out of their cases slightly – so be careful how much mixture goes into each case – don’t fill much beyond half-full. Batch Two didn’t work out quite as well as last’s week’s and sunk slightly again – not sure why – could be that doing all milk rather than a mix of milk and cherry brandy made the difference, or it could be that I didn’t quite combine the egg white with the rest of the mixture enough. I’m not sure. I managed to find 6 respectable looking ones – which was all that I needed for the order – so that was ok.
Decorating the cakes:
I bought this little set of cutters online earlier this week and it has been invaluable for decorating these cakes. I have rather a huge collection of fondant cutters but I think that this set of basic shapes could be the most useful!
I started by colouring the icing. I mixed some plain white ready-to-roll icing with small amounts of red, blue, yellow and green Renshaw icing to create some pretty bright pastel colours. (I’m not at all keen on the taste of the Renshaw icing but it is the most commonly available icing – apparently because it is the best for modelling – and it comes in a wide variety of colours.) You could just add food colouring but I find that starting with a ready coloured icing is much less messy.
To create buttons:
Roll out coloured icing to approx. 5mm thick. Use a round cutter to cut out small circles. Use a round flat item (I used the top of a plunger cutter) to push down into the circles – so creating the rim of the button. Use a skewer to create four small holes in the centre of the button.
To create the patchwork effect cupcakes:
Roll out some white icing to form a rectangle about A5 size, approx. 2 mm thick. Roll out small amounts of each colour of icing to approximately 2 mm thick. Use a square cutter to cut out squares of each colour. Use a clean paintbrush to lightly brush over the white icing with a small amount of water. Stick the squares of coloured icing onto the white icing in a random pattern – so that they are all touching and no white can be seen (you may also want to add in some squares of white icing).
Once the white icing has been covered, use a rolling pin to lightly and gently roll the icing again. Use a round cookie cutter (I used one with a diameter of 7.5cm) to stamp out circles. Use a suitable tool to create a stitching effect along the seams (I used the comb end of a scallop and comb tool, but you can also get a quilting tool).
Place a large round piping tip into a piping bag and fill the bag with buttercream. Pipe onto the cupcake to create a neatly domed mound. Gently lift a patchwork circle onto the cake. Top with a icing flower and button.
To create the button cupcakes:
Roll out some coloured icing to approximately 3 mm thick. Place over an embossing mat (I used one from this set) and roll over again with a rolling pin. Gently remove from the embossing plate and use a round cookie cutter to cut out circles of embossed icing.
Place a large round piping tip into a piping bag and fill the bag with buttercream. Pipe onto the cupcake to create a neatly domed mound. Gently lift an embossed icing circle onto the cake. Top with three buttons.
To create the baby bunting cupcakes:
Place a large round piping tip into a piping bag and fill the bag with buttercream. Pipe onto the cupcake to create a neatly domed mound. Gently lift an embossed icing circle onto the cake.
Roll out some coloured icing to approx. 2mm thick. Use a large and a small triangle cutter to cut out triangles of icing. Roll out some white icing to approx. 2mm thick. Use alphabet cutters to stamp out letters to spell “baby”. Use a little water to attach the letters to the big triangles of icing. Use a little more water to attach the big triangles to the icing-topped cupcakes. Attach little triangles onto each side of the large triangles. Roll a thin strip of white icing into a string and attach gently across the top of the triangles.