Fariy Cakes

Delicious magazine (one of my monthly indulgences) have set up a ‘cook’s challenge.’ Each month, they’re choosing a specific recipe for their readers to cook and photograph. Seeing as I do a lot of cooking and a lot of photographing anyway, I thought I’d give it a go.

This month was cupcakes (see recipe lifted from the site below). The chef’s tip was to decorate with crystallised flowers…but if I’m ever clever enough to coax a plant to actually produce a flower, and not just shrivel and die (which is rare) then it seems a bit of a waste to pluck it and stick it on top of a cake. I thought of buying some specially, but that seemed a bit extravagant, so instead I made my own.

I took inspiration from the birthday cakes Mum made me when I was little. She’d mix together royal icing with half egg white and half water. Then she’d put greaseproof paper over a drawing in one of my picture books, pipe round the edges and fill it in . Once it’s dry (best left somewhere warm overnight – an airing cupboard or on top of the radiator is good) the icing shape can be lifted off the greaseproof paper, and painted with food colouring.

My 2nd birthday cake with royal icing farmyard animals

For the flowers, I piped a load of pansie shapes, then put them in a cooling (almost cold) oven.

I made a palette of food colours, and attempted to paint them like a little pansie – some are better than others.

Ingredients

1. 100g butter, softened
2. 100g caster sugar
3. 100g self raising flour
4. 2 eggs

For the icing

1. 100g icing sugar
2. 4 tsp water or lemon juice
3. Food colouring

Method

1. 1. Preheat the oven at 180c/fan160c/gas 4. Line a mini cake tin with paper cases. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat together until just smooth.

Divide between paper cases and bake in the centre of the oven for 12-15 minutes (or 20-25 minutes if larger cup cakes).

2. 2. Remove from the cake tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Mix the icing sugar with water and colour with a few drops of your desired food colouring. Ice the tops of the cup cakes and decorate as you wish.

Chef’s tip

Flavour these cup cakes with a little lemon or orange rind, vanilla, lavender sugar (used in place of the caster sugar) or a little finely chopped rosemary. Then top with pink, white or lilac icing and decorate with any of the following: crystallised rose petals or violets, sugar flowers, blueberries and rosemary or lavender flowers.

PS For a SUPERB rant about the Death of the Cupcake (and rise of the fairy cake) click:
http://rosecottage-rosie.blogspot.com/2011/05/death-of-cupcake.html

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