This year has quite a few big birthdays in the family and next up is my Mother-in-Law. And I get the honour of making some of the desserts - cupcakes and cake pops. Lovely! So on my latest trip to my local Lakeland, I couldn't resist buying moulds for making lace out of icing. Of course it's not regular icing, it requires some special mixture to allow it to keep its shape.
And as I'm doing more and more advanced things in my baking, I have to practice in advance and this is it - try out one of the many cup cake recipes I saved from the Danish Bake-off in 2012 and combine with icing lace. Note that the original recipe is in Danish.
125 g soft unsalted butter
100 g caster sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1 tbsp lemon juice
275 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 ml salt
2 tbsp black poppy seeds
¾ dl single cream
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C (160 ° C fan-assisted) and prepare some muffin cases.
- Whisk together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and incorporate well. After the final egg, also stir in the vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add the poppy seeds and stir through to make sure they are well mixed.
- Add the flour mixture a little at a time and whisk incorporate into the butter mixture to form a thick batter. Add the cream when the batter becomes stiff and the electric whisk is struggling.
- Spoon or pipe into the muffin cases, filling about ⅔ of each case.
- Bake for 15 - 25 minutes (depending on size), test with a toothpick to see if they're ready, it should come out clean.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.
I bought slightly smaller muffin cases recently, they are much more manageable when eating and have a better balance between the cake part and the icing. So I used them and had 20 muffins from the above amounts. I should have placed them in my metal muffin tins even if they are smaller, that would have helped them keep their shape, but instead I squeezed them all into one tray and so some went rectangular as they bumped into their neighbours while baking.
Now for the decorations, I first went for the recommended icing in the recipe, however it split and I couldn't sort it out, but it was very tasty, so I've frozen it into creamy ice lollies. I also was reluctant to flavour it - it was supposed to be divided in 2 equal parts and one to be flavoured with lemon juice and coloured yellow and the other part to be flavoured with orange juice and coloured orange. It seemed to be a lot of the two juices to be added and I thought it would end up being rather runny.
Ingredients for icing
90 g soft unsalted butter
75 g icing sugar
250 g mascarpone
1 tsp vanilla extract
yellow food colouring
Whisk together everything until it's soft and fluffy. If it doesn't split, pipe onto the cooled down muffins. Otherwise freeze into ice lollies.
I tried to pipe the split icing with the hopes that it might force it to come together, but it started melting in my hands and I gave up. I put some giant raspberries on top, which tasted nice, but made the cupcakes so very top heavy they were not able to stand up on their own.
The next thing was to try out the icing lace. The packet instructions were for industrial amounts, I made a fifth if them and still had a blob left over. The mixture was very rubbery from the start and it took me quite a while to work out the right level of pressure to use to get the lace moulds filled enough to form a lace and yet not accidentally scrape half of the filling off. I left them to dry naturally through the day and in the evening, I dug out some ready to roll blue icing, rolled it out and cut out circles, then put the icing lace on top and it looked very pretty.
The next day, the blue icing had bled into the muffins and also picked up lots of moisture from the air, as it is very rainy at the moment. The white icing lace kept well, but also succumbed to the strong blue colour of the rolled out icing on day 2. I'll need to make another batch of the icing lace, to make sure I have the knack for Mother-in-Law's birthday party. And I also need to work out a good recipe for the cupcakes.
I personally liked the poppy seeds, they give a very nice crunch, but Lundulph thought they were more of a savoury ingredient and we both were struggling to taste the lemon. I also thought the muffins were a bit on the dry side - the original recipe called for milk, but I think using single cream should make them a bit more moist. Lundulph suggested muffins with cardamom flavouring, like a cinnamon bun basically, so that'll be the next thing to try.
I also took some to work for some of my overworked colleagues. I've not heard anything from them, so my guess is these weren't quite a hit with them either. And not surprising, work has been hectic and stressful for weeks and I'm tired and have headaches, so my baking very much reflects this. I think I need to knead a dough by hand and get some of the built-up frustration out.