I bet you all know them. Tiny, pretty, cute, lovely, sweet, delicious little cake topped with anything you can think of. That's what a cupcake is. Cupcake is the name for it in American English, in British English you can find it under fairy cake and Australians may know it as a patty cake or cup cake. The first mention of cupcake comes from 1796 by Amelia Simms' cookbook "American Cookery". This little sweet cake is called cupcake because it was baked in a cup or a mold of similar shape (muffin/cupcake tins didn't exist in that time). A cup cake (in American English) was a standardl-sized cake whose ingredients were measured by using a cup - like 1 cup flour, 1 cup butter etc. As for the British name - fairy cake - (as you can read on wikipedia) it is a fanciful description of its size, which would be appropriate for a party of diminutive fairies to share.
Maybe now you're thinking what the difference between muffin and cupcake is. Cupcake is sweet little cake with frosting or icing. Muffin is something different - it's a type of bread baked in small molds so it can be eaten by an individual in one sitting. It's less sweet than cupcake, usually there's no frosting/icing, the dough is moister and at its best the first day after being baked and it should be served warm. Oh, and muffin can contain dried or fresh fruit, pieces of nuts, chocolate chips and so on.
American buttercream is pretty common in - guess where - America. The most simple, basic and traditional one only contains butter and sugar and sometimes milk and/or extract of your choice. I've seen some recipes using lard or margaine instead of butter, but when it comes to cream, there's only butter for me and nothing else. I just can't imagine eating margarine or even lard cream! Acoording to me, butter is the fat numero uno and especially in frosting. The buttercream is based on undissolved sugar that helps the butter to hold the desired shape. It's quite sweet and the ratio is 2:1 - two parts sugar, one part butter. I love the most Greman buttercream (also known as custard-based buttercream) where the sugar is completely dissolved and you have a smooth creamy melt-in-your-mouth buttercream. The American one is not bad at all - my sugar-loving sister loves this one the most - and I wanted to try it out. It great and tasty, but I know better (which I'm gonna share with you later on).
Whoa, that was quite a lot of explanation and description :) I'm gonna get to the recipe soon. At first I have to admitt my mom wasn't very happy with my choice of something like cupcakes, but her co-workers and the employer were satisfied and they even took the leftover cupcakes home to have some for another day which made me incredibly happy. Ok, enough, here are the recipes :)
200g caster sugar
160g butter, softened
240g all-purpose flour
40g Dutch processed cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
big pinch of salt
450g powdered sugar, sifted
225g butter, softened
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Cupcakes: Line 18 muffin cups with cupcake paper liners. Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy using your blender/hand mixer etc. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until incorporated. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Gently fold the flour mixture and milk into the butter-sugar mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour always just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fill the cupcake liners evenly to the top. Bake in preheated oven to 180C for about 10-13 minutes or until risen. Let cool for 3 minutes in the muffin cups, then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
Buttercream: Beat butter until light and fluffy, add vanilla extract and beat well again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Gradually beat in sifted sugar and in the end add milk. Beat for about 3-4 minutes until fluffy again. (Now you can add any food coloring if desired.)
Assembling: Fill a pastry bag fitted with a tip of your choice (the bigger the better) with the buttercream and decorate the cupcakes as desired. Sprinkle with chocolate or decorate with candied flowers etc. (I used marzipan flowers, chocolate rolls and leaves).
- You can add any kind of food coloring to the buttercream to make it more festive/beautiful/whatever :)
- If you want to make vanilla cupcakes, add 25g all-purpose flour, 2 tsp pure vanilla extract and omitt the cocoa powder.
- You can use vanilla seeds from vanilla pod instead of vanilla extract in both, cupcakes and buttercream.
I'd say yum :) I only ate a small piece because most of the cupcakes were taken to my mom's welcome party but I think I really like them. The cupcakes themselves are a bit drier (I'd enjoy them more if moister) but overly it's very good and not even too sweet. The buttercream is very tasty, too, even though it's not the best one I know. When eaten together, it's delicious - the cupcake becomes sweeter and moister. Maybe the vanilla version would be overly sweet, but here the cocoa makes the trick and it's just okay :) Oh, I have to say they do look very good and everybody feels so honored to have his/her own little cake which he/she doesn't have to share with others (oh yes, you can be a bit selfish this time). It's a perfect choice for a party!