Book Review- Cupcake Magic by Kate Shirazi

P1070689

£7.99- Pavilion

My rating: 8.5/10

Simple and different cakes that anyone could manage.

I buy most of my baking books on recommendation so I thought it might be useful to start posting some reviews on here. I didn’t want to start with anything negative so here is one of my favorites. It’s subtitled ‘little cakes with attitude’ and I wouldn’t argue with that.

Straight forward instructions and plenty of pictures.

Straight forward instructions and plenty of pictures.

The book is divided into low-faff, medium-faff and high-faff so you know what you’re getting but the really nice thing is even the high-faff recipes look acheivable an really not an extreme amount of effort. The pictures don’t all look like the finely decorated immaculate cupcakes you get in many books: they’re beautiful but not unrealistically perfect and that’s what I really like about this book- they look like they’ve been made by a real person and are something that you could realistically copy (maybe not quite as well but at least you’ll get something that’s reasonably like what you expect!). In terms of ingredients and equipment I’d say they’re all pretty low-faff. Lovely.

Things anyone can do…almost.

The flavorings are great and different without being too wacky (although I’ve not investigate the savory cupcakes section yet)- the ‘grown-up’ mocha cakes have become one of my standard bakes and always disappear even when I worked in a office full of weight watchers fiends.

The best thing is this feels like a book written by a real person. Not a company or team. Kate’s sense of humor comes through and her section about free-range eggs and gluten free cakes just makes you like her. I was recommended this by someone who had attended her cupcake classes and I’m sad that I no longer live in Devon and can’t go. Her website is here, I’d recommend a look, just avoid the wedding cakes, they look too good and will make you sad (unless you’re actually getting married in which case GO, GO NOW).

Tip: This book can be found online for just over a fiver but I picked it up in The Works for about £3- definitely a bargain at that price.

 

My attempt at the star cupcakes. Not the neatest but still not unhappy as was my first time piping with royal icing. My main niggle is the fact that they are stars. Who can even draw a star well let alone pipe one?? Even so, tip in the book of practicing before putting them on the cake was a very good idea.

My attempt at the star cupcakes. Not the neatest but still not unhappy as was my first time piping with royal icing. My main niggle is the fact that they are stars. Come on Kate, who can even draw a star well let alone pipe one?? Even so, the tip in the book of practicing before putting them on the cake was a very good idea.

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Vegan cupcakes- an update

An actual properly made vegan cupcake, courtesy of the Vegan Cakery.

An actual properly made vegan cupcake, courtesy of the Vegan Cakery.

I feel that vegan cupcakes may have got a bit of bad press from my previous post about them, but let’s be honest they weren’t great at a first attempt. However, this week a very lovely person sent me some of the real thing,  provided by the Vegan Cakery (www.vegancakery.com – check them out they are really rather good) and I’m pleased to say they were very tasty. The office approved too and they are cake experts after all.

They very good and moist- there’s still something about them that’s different to your standard cupcake but not in a bad way. These were much lighter than mine (see here, the main issue with them was that they were too dense), but didn’t have the same springyness you would expect a cake to, they were more crumbly. This isn’t a criticism, they’re just different. Not massively different (I doubt most people would even notice to be honest) and definitely a very good alternative. So I’ve been convinced to try and make my own again, I just might take them to the office next time as I’m not sure my other half’s lovely carnivore family will be so ready to try a second batch…

To be continued…

Nice, moist, and cake like. What's not to like.

Nice, moist, and cake like. What’s not to like.

A happy delivery of chai flavoured goodness.

A happy delivery of chai flavoured goodness.

They didn’t last long in cake office.

Cocktail cupcakes- raspberry & strawberry daiquiri and piña colada

Raspberry daquiri, piña colada, strawberry daquiri

Raspberry daquiri, piña colada, strawberry daiquiri

I bought the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book after being tempted in by their mini cocktail cupcakes.  They have some really good ideas of how to create the cocktails in cake form but with two major issues: too small and too sweet. As cute as the mini cupcakes are they’re just gone too quickly, and if they’re made into a full sized cupcake the sugariness and general Hummingbird overuse of complicated/ unhealthy ingredients is overwhelming. So here is a simple and less sweet version.

Important- These are best made on the day- they don’t keep well due ot the amount of wet fruit content. You can do steps 1 and 2 and leave overnight for an extra boozy experience though. Recommended.

Piña colada cupcakes

Piña colada cupcakes

Strawberry daiquiri cupcakes

Strawberry daiquiri cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cake

100 ml white rum (or malibu for piña colada cakes)
150g strawberries/ raspberries/ pineapple (tinned is ok)
1 large egg (beaten)
50g butter
130g caster sugar
100g self raising flour

Icing

50g butter
250g icing sugar (minimum- probably much more, up to double this!)
4 tsp whole milk
1 tsp lime zest  (daiquiri)/ 50 g dessicated coconunt (piña colada)
Pink/ yellow food colouring
Optional fresh fruit to decorate

1. In  a small saucepan add 30g of the sugar to the rum, bring to the boil and simmer until about half the original volume. Careful of the really quite alcoholic fumes. As fun as they may make stirring your rum chances are you’ll later fall asleep and burn your cakes. Or do something like get your finger stuck in a teapot…

2. Chop the fruit into small pieces (these will go into the cake so about raisin size works well) and once the rum has cooled a little add them to the mixture. Leave to soak for at least half an hour, the longer the better (I’d recommend overnight, depends how much rum flavour you want!).

3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

4. Prepare 12 cupcake cases in a baking tray. Drain the fruit (keep the left over rum!) and split between the cake cases.

5. Mix together the butter and remaining sugar until soft and pale coloured, then slowly stir in the beaten egg.

6. Fold in the flour and distribute the mixture among the cake cases, covering the fruit.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until a light brown colour and a flat knife comes out of them clean.

8. Once the cakes are cooled mix together the icing sugar, butter, milk and as much of remaining rum as required. Add the lime zest if making daiquiri cakes and food colouring if desired.

9. Pipe on the icing and decorate with fresh fruit (daiquiri) or dessicated coconut (piña colada).

Strawberry daiquiri cupcakes

 

An alternative decoration if you're not a fan of piping.

An alternative easier decoration if you’re not a fan of piping.

Vegan cupcakes- vanilla with chocolate ganache

I’ll admit I’ve always been quite suspicious of vegan cakes- they’re missing 2 of the 4 ingredients I’ve grown up thinking make cake so how can they be the same thing? However, due to the amount of responses I’ve got to my oreo cakes saying “they look good but they would be better if they were vegan” I decided to experiment. The verdict- don’t knock ’em til you’ve tried ’em. They’re ever so slightly stodgier than your standard cupcake but genuinely a good tasty and ethical alternative.

The site I was recommended was http://www.theppk.com/. They do have a lot of exciting looking vegan food I was surprisingly tempted by. I took their ideas and adapted them to things you can easily buy in a UK supermarket, simplified it and converted to UK friendly measurements.

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Look- it’s actual cake! With no egg or butter!

Makes 12 cupcake sized cakes.

Ingredients:

Cake:

225ml almond milk (find it with the cream/ soya milk etc.)
1 tsp white wine vinegar
160g self raising flour
2 heaped tbsp cornflour
75ml vegetable oil
1 vanilla pod (optional- can be pricy but tastes good!)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
175g sugar

Ganache:

50g dark chocolate
2 tbsp maple syrup
75ml almond milk

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Place 12 cupcake cases in your baking tray.

2. Whisk the white wine vinegar and almond milk together and leave for a while- it will start to curdle, this is ok apparently. Maybe don’t let any skeptical carnivores/ dairy enthusiasts see this stage.

3. Beat this mixture together with the sugar, oil, vanilla extract and contents of the vanilla pod.

4. Sift in the flour and cornflour and mix in.

5. Transfer to the cupcake cases and bake for 22-25 mins.

6. Once the cake has cooled prepare the ganache by bringing the almond milk to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and maple syrup and continue stirring constantly until thickened.

7. Allow to cool for a good 10-15 minutes before adding to the cakes. Allow to cool, preferably in a fridge to set.

Notes:

I found the ganache quite runny but making it on one of the hottest days of the year probably didn’t help. Adding melted dark chocolate as a topping would be a safer and still tasty option.

I really struggled to find vegan dark chocolate, any recommendations? Everything seemed to have dairy traces…

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Tested on a suitably carnivorous family.