This week I got to do something I really love, for a good cause close to lots of people's hearts, Macmillan Cancer.
It was pure good coincidence that it also happened to be National Cupcake Week. I couldn't pass up an opportunity like that!
So here are my efforts this time around - Raspberry Swirl cupcakes with white chocolate toppers, Raspberry Ripple cupcakes, Mint Choc Chip cupcakes, Rainbow cupcakes, Banana and White Choc Chip cupcakes and Lemon Meringue cupcakes.
Tamsin helped me make the toppers; easy to do with some melted chocolate drizzled onto baking paper and we had such good fun experimenting!
I took most into school to be sold at the Macmillan Cancer coffee morning, and some I passed on to good friends and teachers, to help spread a little cheer for National Cupcake Week.
My basic cupcake recipe is always the same and to me it seems so easy that it's almost embarrasing to share. I'm also not sure where it came from originally, as I've been doing it for so long:
150g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
3 medium eggs
150g self raising flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, or lemon juice for the lemon cakes.
For chocolate cupcakes I generally add around 30g of cocoa powder and leave out 30g of the self raising flour.
To this base mix I like to experiment and add different things - this time I dropped a raspberry in each case after the cake mix to make the raspberry cupcakes, and a bit of grated lemon rind into the lemon ones (adding orange rind is also yummy for some St.Clements versions).
I love buttercream icing because it's perfect for piping and I love creating the swirls (and licking the bowl out afterwards!). My recipe for that is (again, no idea where it came from as I've used it for so long!):
280g icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
This time I wanted to try a marshmallow type frosting so I simply added around 150g melted marshmallows to the above, and a teaspoon of lemon juice. It didn't quite work; the mix ended up a bit too runny and spread as soon as I piped it onto the cakes, but I actually quite liked the end look for a change. Plus, it has to be the tastiest icing I've ever made! So I'm sure I'll be experimenting some more with that soon. The green icing was buttercream made with a teaspoon of peppermint flavouring instead of vanilla. Simple melted chocolate (I mixed plain and milk choc) always makes a good topping, as does shiny glace icing.
Personally I like playing with the fondant coloured icing as you can get some great shapes and themes going on, but I do find it very time consuming. Sasha loves all things rainbow, so she and a friend helped me make some rainbow coloured cakes by adding different food colours to the basic recipe mix, and dropping them into the cake cases a spoonful at a time.
Levelling off the top of the cupcakes is always an enjoyable chore...
Then I simply rolled different coloured icing into strips or balls to make a pretty look, a homage to Rainbow Belle.
If you haven't been before, and you have young girls (or even boys who like music and colours!) then do pop over to the Magic Belles website, www.magicbelles.com, or download their free magical musical app by clicking here. Definitely worth it, Sasha and Tamsin both love the Magic Belles and they are SO friendly!
I'm very conscious of the fact that there may be mums at school who probably think I'm 'showing off' when I take these cakes in, but I honestly do it only because I loved baking and decorating - it's my hobby and my way of relaxing. There's not much else I'm good at anyhow so I don't want to feel guilty about doing these, but equally don't want anyone else to feel theirs are not good enough! I know plenty of other people who can do better...
This Christmas I'm going to be asking Santa for a new camera and maybe a photography lesson, as I never feel as if I present my efforts in the best light. Hope you like them anyhow!