I think I might be slightly crazy. And with the amount of cursing and mumbling coming out of the Pig Palace kitchen today, Frank agrees. As I was humming “I am a woman, on a mission”, I began the ambitious task of making two chocolate gateaux cakes (one with buttercream icing, and one with ganache), one batch of muffin-sized cupcakes and 16 mini-cupcakes. All in a morning. And why, I hear you ask? It is birthday weekend of course!
In January I volunteered to make a cake for Frank’s beautiful niece for her 6th birthday. As D-day (or shall I say B-day… ;)) is tomorrow, I gave her the option two weeks ago of choosing what themed cake she would like. With dread in my stomach I suspected she’ll ask for a Barbie cake (as this is all I wanted as a kid), but much to my relief she has requested a ladybug cake. PHEW. As the cake is being baked for a party, I have added some cupcakes to go with the ladybug to feed all the hungry little mouths.
For some reason, I seemed to have forgotten to bring my baking mojo into the kitchen this morning. In the course of the day I dropped cakes on the floor, I threw icing on the walls, I shut a Tupperware container straight onto the buttercream swirls of the cupcakes, and I dropped my new piping set from a dizzy height so that all the new nozzles migrates to places I’ll only discover in a year. When I drop something else.
First up: the cupcakes and mini-cupcakes.
I used my favorite recipe that got me into loving cupcakes in the first place. I made 1.5 batches, and this amount made 12 chocolate-y cupcakes and 16 mini-cupcakes.
For some reason the cakes pulled away from their cases as soon as they were taken out the oven, so in a McGyver moment I tied a little pink ribbon on each of them to hold them in place.
I iced the cupcakes with vanilla buttercream, stuck a slice of marshmallow on top, and iced letters on top of the marshmallow. With the mini-cupcakes I simply piped a buttercream swirl and added some sprinkles. Just in case you wondered, Frank’s niece loves pink!
Next up: the gateaux cake. I needed to make it into the shape of a ladybug, but last time I used a normal round tin the ladybug looked a bit sad. After doing a bit of research I decided to use my metal mixing bowl instead, which turned out rather well if I may say so myself! (I also got some great advice from the staff at The Essential Ingredient to line my bowl so the cake actually comes out)
I iced the ladybug with the same vanilla buttercream, used slices of marshmallows for the eyes, and licorice laces for the legs and lines on it’s back. For the final touch I added some edible glitter, and now it’s the fanciest ladybug around!
The ladybug doesn’t have its feelers or legs yet, those will come tomorrow when it’s set up at the party. The big challenge will be tomorrow, when Frank and I have to get across Sydney with a cake, 12 cupcakes and 16 mini-cupcakes on my lap!
And what happened to the cake with chocolate ganache icing? That is for Frank’s Mom’s birthday on Monday. I’ll be icing the cake tomorrow night so stay tuned for some more photos…
Chocolate Cupcakes – recipe from “Little cakes with attitude” by Kate Shirazi
3/4 cup self-raising flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup margarine
2 large free-range eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp milk
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with cupcake cases. Sift flour, cocoa powder and sugar into a large bowl. Plonk all the cake ingredients and whisk away until pale and fluffy (I would use an electric whisk).
Plop a tablespoon of the batter into the cases and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until firm and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Vanilla buttercream icing
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat everything in a large bowl for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add food colouring to your heart’s content. (I used rose pink and licorice colouring)
Chocolate gateaux cake – recipe from BBC Good Food website
200g good quality dark chocolate , about 60% cocoa solids
200g butter , cut in pieces
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
85g self-raising flour
85g plain flour
1⁄4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g light muscovado sugar
200g golden caster sugar
25g cocoa powder
3 medium eggs
75ml buttermilk (5 tbsp)
grated chocolate or curls, to decorate
Butter a 20cm round cake tin and line the base. Preheat the oven to fan 140C/conventional 160C/ gas 3. Break the chocolate in pieces into a medium, heavy-based pan. Tip in the butter, then mix the coffee granules into 125ml/4fl oz cold water and pour into the pan. Warm through over a low heat just until everything is melted – don’t overheat. Or melt in the microwave on Medium for about 5 minutes, stirring half way through.
While the chocolate is melting, mix the two flours, bicarbonate of soda, sugars and cocoa in a big bowl, mixing with your hands to get rid of any lumps. Beat the eggs in a bowl and stir in the buttermilk.
Now pour the melted chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until everything is well blended and you have a smooth, quite runny consistency. Pour this into the tin and bake for 1 hour 25- 1 hour 30 minutes – if you push a skewer in the centre it should come out clean and the top should feel firm (don’t worry if it cracks a bit). Leave to cool in the tin (don’t worry if it dips slightly), then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
P.S. Below is a photo of the finished Ladybug with her legs and feelers!