I confess to letting National Milkshake Day go by last week without a mention, but described by its dedicated website as 'celebrating bakers' creativity and passion', National Cupcake Week is certainly worthy of a mention.
Where did this phenomenon come from? What happened to the humble fairy cake? Indeed, what is the difference between the cupcake and the fairy cake?
The obvious difference is in the name. Having originally been a cake baked in a small cup and designed to be a small cake just for one person, cupcake was the obvious title. The fairy cake followed the same 'cake for one' idea, but was generally smaller and not baked in a cup, it looked perfect as a special treat for the fairies that played secretly at the foot of the garden.
Another difference is in the ingredients, with fairy cakes always following the standard sponge cake recipe, but cupcakes being any type of cake, but made smaller. From the relatively simple carrot cake or coffee cake developed into cupcake form, these have now evolved into exotic and occasionally wacky and bizarre creations... Mojito cupcake (I'd rather have the real thing), sticky toffee pudding cupcake (ditto Mojito) and the savoury Korma cupcake (that has GOT to put you off curry for life!)
But this is the joy of cupcakes - you can be as creative and experimental as you like with just a simple base recipe. The final difference is, quite literally, the icing on the cake. Fairy cakes are usually topped with a small blob of royal icing, possibly sprinkled with hundreds and thousands.
On the other hand, cupcakes groan under the weight of huge swirls of butter cream icing, covering the entire top of the cake, sparkling with edible glitter and loaded with all manner of adornments. You can find dozens of recipes and ideas, plus more information about National Cupcake week via the website or use the simple base recipe below and experiment with your own ideas
For the buttercream icing:
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale.
Beat in the eggs a little at a time and stir in the vanilla extract.
Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little milk until the mixture is of a dropping consistency. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until they are half full.
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean.
Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
For the buttercream icing, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Then add the remaining icing sugar with one tablespoon of the milk, adding more milk if necessary, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Add the food colouring and mix until well combined. Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe the icing using a spiralling motion onto the cup cakes in a large swirl.
You can then go as wild and wacky or smooth and sophisticated as you like with your adornments and ideas!
If, however, you are anything like me, a more than adequate cook who has somehow never, ever, pulled a successful cake of any kind out of the oven, then you can follow me down to the truly amazing ChocolateLilly.com.
The creators of stunning cupcakes, Hand-Iced decorated Biscuits, Boutique Cake Pops and Larger Celebration Cakes, ChocolateLilly.com is an expert in cake making and decoration based in Southend on Sea and will do all the hard work for you!
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