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National Cupcake Week

It’s National Cupcake Week which means you have the excuse to bake or eat as many as you want!

There are some wonderfully creative recipes on the official website, including gluten-free sticky toffee pudding cupcakes, mojito and ‘mocktail’ cupcakes, and even savoury korma cupcakes. For even more inspiration, here are some of my creations.

National Cupcake WeekLamington cupcakes

National Cupcake WeekLemon meringue cupcakes

National Cupcake WeekShaggy bear cupcakes

National Cupcake WeekGingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese icing

dairy-free chocolate cupcakesDairy-free chocolate cupcakes

dairy-free lime cupcakesDairy-free lime cupcakes

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Cupcake inspiration

It’s the last day of National Cupcake Week. I haven’t managed to make any more worth blogging about, but wanted to share some inspiring ones (and they’re super cute too!) that I can’t wait to try when Nicholas is just a teeny bit bigger.

The Mini Mes and MeSpace Cupcakes

Check out lovely Emma’s blog (I love the title!) for her fizzy flying saucers and edible glitter sitting on chocolate ganache. What kid (little or big) wouldn’t love these?!

Cindy Littlefield’s Squirt Happy Turtles

A few jelly sweets turn ordinary cupcakes into something super cute.

Annabel Karmel’s Piggy Cupcakes

A few marshmallows and some writing icing are all you need to create some piggies (and don’t forget the curly tails!).

Baking Bites – Rainbow Cupcakes

By dividing up the batter and colouring it different rainbow colours, you can easily create the happiest cupcakes.

Daily Dish Blog – Mummy Cupcakes

Shari at Daily Dish Blog found the perfect cupcakes to make  for Halloween (there aren’t any directions, but a few lines of white icing and some mini MandMs are all you need).

Update (22 Nov 2012): I finally found the original source for these cute mummy cupcakes and what’s even better is they’re low-fat! Gina at Skinny taste has detailed instructions, so now there’s no excuse not to make them!

Martha Stewart’s Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes

Melting a marshmallow into the top is a super simple and super yummy way to finish your cupcakes.

Gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese icing

National Cupcake Week is drawing to an end, but I didn’t think I could let it pass by without trying to make some gingerbread cupcakes. While they’re probably more appropriate for Christmas (at least I’m getting ahead!), their warm spiciness and dark sugariness are perfect as the weather gets colder.

You could easily ice these with normal icing or vanilla buttercream icing; I just love the flavour combination of gingerbread and cream cheese. I also didn’t want to make a very firm icing because then the sugary flavour would overpower the cream cheese flavour, but if you want an icing you can pipe high on top of the cupcakes, then just add some more icing sugar to the mixture.

GINGERBREAD CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

Prep time: 20-25 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes 12 cupcakes
Uniced cupcakes can be frozen for up to a month

Gingerbread cupcakes

125g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
125g butter, softened
125g dark muscovado sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan).

Sift the flour, baking powder and ground ginger together.

Sprinkle the muscovado sugar over the butter, breaking any lumps up as much as you can. Beat the butter and sugar with a handheld mixer, or in a food processor, until creamy.

At a slower speed, add the eggs (one at a time) and golden syrup.

Carefully fold in the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix it.

Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases and bake for 12-15 mins until cooked through when tested with a skewer. Cool on a wire rack.

Cream cheese icing

90g butter, softened
150g cream cheese, softened
400g icing sugar, sifted
A sprinkling of cinnamon to serve

Beat the butter until creamy and pale in colour.

Add the cream cheese and lightly beat together.

Mix in the icing sugar, lightly beating until creamy.

Once the cupcakes are cool, spread or pipe the icing on top. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

Tip: the cream cheese icing is quite soft; if you want a firmer icing that holds its shape better for piping higher, add more icing sugar to the mixture.

Shaggy bear cupcakes

My shaggy bear cupcakes would be perfect for a teddy bears’ picnic and are super easy to decorate. Why not get your munchkins involved, leaving you to eat them?

The recipe and all the directions are over on Mindful Mum.

I’ve also got a brand new Facebook page which is feeling a little unloved at the moment. It would make my day if you could ‘like’ it (just scroll down this page and you’ll see the ‘like’ button on the right).

Lemon meringue cupcakes

We’re in the middle of National Cupcake Week and I haven’t eaten nearly enough cupcakes!

When I was thinking about some different cupcakes to experiment with for this week, I kept thinking about the desserts I like and whether I could make a cupcake version of them. Lemon meringue pie was one of those at the top of my list. Doing some quick online research (I try not to do this very much when I’m experimenting to avoid being influenced too much rather than going with my own ideas), people were making lemon flavoured cupcakes with some kind of meringue on top, or spreading lemon curd on top of a cupcake. I was thinking something different.

My cupcakes have a surprise – a gooey centre of lemon curd under the fluffy meringue. In an ideal world (where I can spend as much time as I like experimenting in the kitchen while someone else does the day-to-day cooking) I would make my own lemon curd. But living in the real world, I used ready-made lemon curd from the supermarket.

My meringue topping is a fluffy airy meringue rather than a stiffer marshmallow texture as I prefer my cupcake toppings to melt in your mouth. I also like seeing other people with my food all around their mouths! And anyway, cupcake eating should be messy. Did you ever see Carrie Bradshaw in ‘Sex and the City’ eat a cupcake without getting the icing all over her fingers and sometimes also on her chin?!

The vanilla cupcakes are the same recipe I used to make my lamington cupcakes. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

I’ve used an Italian style meringue (using a sugar syrup rather than mixing sugar directly into the egg whites) because it holds its shape much more easily. I’ve erred on the side of being very generous for the amount of meringue topping. I would hate to think of anyone running out or a twelfth cupcake being left with a meagre amount, and you can always use any leftovers to bake mini meringues.

LEMON MERINGUE CUPCAKES

Prep time: 25-30 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes 12 cupcakes
Unfilled cupcakes without the topping can be frozen for up to a month

Vanilla cupcakes with lemon curd filling

125g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
150g lemon curd

Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan).

Sift the flour and baking powder together.

Beat the butter and sugar with a handheld mixer, or in a food processor, until creamy and a paler colour.

At a slower speed, add the vanilla, eggs (one at a time) and milk.

Put the creamy mixture into a bowl and carefully fold in the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix it.

Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases (the mixture should fill the cases about two thirds full).

Bake for 12-15 mins until cooked through when tested with a skewer. Cool on a wire rack.

Once cool, with a sharp knife cut a small circle in the centre of each cupcake. Use a teaspoon to take it out, keeping the extra piece of cake (no, you can’t eat it).

Dollop one teaspoon of lemon curd into each hollowed out cupcake. Cut off the bottom of the extra piece and place it back on top to close the cupcake up. (If your top no longer completely covers the hole, you can crumble the extra piece you cut off and lightly press the crumbs in.)

Meringue topping

3 egg whites, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
75ml water

In a small saucepan, dissolve the sugar and water over a low heat.

Whisk the egg whites until they’ve doubled in volume and have soft peaks (2-3 mins).

Very slowly pour in the sugar syrup while you keep whisking, avoiding pouring the syrup over the beaters. Keep whisking until the mixture has turned glossy and thick and has firm peaks (about 5 mins).

Using a large metal spoon, dollop the meringue mixture on top of the cupcakes (you can use a piping bag if you want it to be less free-form).

Place the cupcakes under a grill until the meringue has just started to turn brown (keep a close eye on them) or use a blow torch to lightly brown the meringue.

Lamington cupcakes

Today is the first day of National Cupcake Week! Yes, a whole week devoted to celebrating those morsels of cakey goodness. What better excuse to get into the kitchen and then relax with your baked efforts?

I’ve been experimenting with cupcakes for the last couple of weeks to try to come up with some different ideas. Some of my experiments haven’t worked, but mistakes are the best teachers. I came up with the idea for these ones after feeling disheartened by an idea I just couldn’t make work and had to give up on. I wanted something that definitely wouldn’t fail and would be very simple.

Australia doesn’t have a lot of unique cuisine. When people ask me what dishes are particularly Australian, I usually find it difficult to give a good reply. But one of the things I most love about my homeland is its eclectic mishmash of cultures and cuisines.

Lamingtons are definitely uniquely Australian. They make me think of my childhood and are perhaps one of the reasons I love coconut so much. Their simplicity is probably their biggest selling point – cubes of light vanilla sponge, covered in runny chocolate icing and finally dipped in desiccated coconut. Sometimes they’re cut in half and cream (sometimes also jam) is spread inside, but it tastes much better in its original form.

My cupcake version of lamingtons omits the messy dipping into chocolate icing stage. What could be better? You still have the wonderful taste combination, but without all the fiddly work!

LAMINGTON CUPCAKES

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes 12 cupcakes
Uniced cupcakes can be frozen for up to a month

Vanilla cupcakes

125g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan).

Sift the flour and baking powder together.

Beat the butter and sugar with a handheld mixer, or in a food processor, until creamy and a paler colour.

At a slower speed, add the vanilla, eggs (one at a time) and milk.

Put the creamy mixture into a bowl and carefully fold in the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix it.

Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases (the mixture should fill the cases about one half or two thirds full).

Bake for 12-15 mins until cooked through when tested with a skewer. Cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate buttercream icing

140g butter, softened
250g icing sugar
30g good quality cocoa powder
1-2 tbsp milk
1 cup desiccated coconut

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder together.

Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft and creamy.

Add half the icing sugar and cocoa powder mixture and beat until smooth.

Add the remaining icing sugar and cocoa powder, and the milk, beating until creamy.

Once the cakes are cool, spread the buttercream icing liberally on top. Sprinkly generously with coconut.

Variations:

  •   use 30g of melted chocolate instead of the cocoa powder in the buttercream for extra decadence