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.
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.
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
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.
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: