Monday, 2 August 2010

Who said birthday parties were for kids?

Today was another beautiful Sunday.  At the end of the morning service whilst socialising with the church family, a friend of mine I have not seen in a while brought up the fact that today was her birthday - the one occasion where we can be spoiled and celebrate!  She chose to do so with a tea party, so with a few hours to spare I went home to bake a batch of cupcakes as I didn't have time to find a last second present.  When in doubt, one can not go wrong with cupcakes I feel.  I decided to make a lemon and poppy seed cupcake batch (recipe below) but didn't really have the time to rummage for a recipe, so hoped it all turned out OK in time for the tea party by adapting a Victoria sponge recipe I luckily have handy in my head.  I decided to frost some of the cakes in a lemon butter cream with pink edible sparkles.  One word of warning though, if you ever think about pouring a teaspoon of milk from a 4 pint bottle, just don't and pour it out into a smaller container/jug.  I managed about half a spoon, wanted more and promptly got a good glug of milk ruining the lovely consistency of my butter cream.  Running out of time, I did not think to pour some out then thicken up with more icing sugar, so having gone through an unnatural amount of icing sugar, I ended up with a huge batch of not quite firm buttercream.  Promptly piping the icing on to the cupcakes, they were then jammed into a round tin.  My theory was that if they were crammed tightly enough they'd survive the bike journey I was about to inflict on them, runny icing and all.


Someone's cake stand containing scrummy chocolate cake

The day was quite cloudy but warm and merry all the same.  I made a pit stop outside another friend's flat en route and we walked together to the Birthday Girl's burrow - round tin of cupcakes fighting against the bungee ties I strapped around them to my trusty pannier.  Upon arrival we wound our way round their shabby chic flat to the back, which was transformed with bunting hung up around the garden with tea sets and platters of finger sandwiches and sweet treats strewn around the grass.  What a wonderful sight!  Tucked into a corner, made (as we found out later) from deck chairs and Cath Kidston fabric was a cute tent for the kiddies and a picnic blanket completed the scene.  The cupcakes surprisingly survived the journey intact and was a popular hit with the guests.  I think I managed return home after evening service with two left which I promptly took photos of before engulfing - naturally washing it all down with a mug of tea.  Another week gone, and another satisfying end to it.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes
(Makes 12)


 Non-Iced Cupcakes, still yummy!

Ingredients:
  • 100g/4oz Plain flour  
  • 1.5tsp Baking powder
  • 100g/4oz Margarine
  • 100g/4oz Caster Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 150g/6oz Icing Sugar, sifted
  • 25g Butter
  • Zest and juice of one Lemon 
  • 2-3tsp Poppy seeds
Method:
  1. Weigh out all ingredients and leave to reach room temperature.  Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/180C/350F and line a muffin tin with cupcake (or muffin) cases.  If using cupcake cases, you might need two tins.  I happily about 18 cupcakes with my mixture quantity. 
  2. Beat the margarine, sugar, lemon zest and poppy seeds together until pale and creamy.
  3. Beat the eggs and gradually whisk into the mixture.
  4. Fold in the flour and baking powder.  Alternatively use self-raising flour and miss out the baking powder (I just didn't have any to hand at the time).
  5. Pour teaspoons of the cake mix into the cupcake cases until about a third filled.  Same applies to the muffin cases.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and the centre springs back when lightly pressed.
  7. Meanwhile, beat the butter and gradually adding sifted icing sugar to avoid lumps.  Thin with lemon juice and continue to beat until pale and creamy.  If you want, thin with some milk too for a richer butter cream.
  8. Transfer to a piping bag/tube and once the cupcakes are cool, pipe on in a circled spiral to form a small mountain of frosting.
  9. Don't think about taking the fresh batch on a bike ride, instead leave to set a while and enjoy in the comfort of your home with a cup of tea.

NB: Although I made cupcakes, there was enough mixture to make 12 muffins.  Usually I use a 3oz/75g quantity and 1 large egg. 

Also sorry for the awful photo qualities, they were taken at night/when the light had disappeared. 

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