A Pinch of Sugar

Cupcakes are hardly the new trend on the block – after New York’s Magnolia Bakery was featured heavily on Sex and The City; cupcakes and more specifically cupcake bakeries popped up everywhere worldwide. In Hong Kong alone, you could buy a sweet treat from Babycakes, Sift, Cupcakery, Cake-A-Licious, Complete Deelite and Sweet Secrets to name a few. Obviously the perks of cupcakes are somewhat self-evident: you’re able to indulge without having to order or make an entire cake. The problem for me is that whilst I can sometimes have a sudden sugar craving; shop-bought cupcakes are quite often too sweet and the icing can be too thick and cloying. Besides, if you’ve read any part of this blog, you’ll know that this is a precursor to sharing my recipe – if you usually buy then why not try baking it for yourself!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter
120ml whole milk
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  • In an electric mixer, mix plain flour, caster sugar, teaspoons baking powder, salt and unsalted butter until everything is combined.
  • Gradually pour in 60ml milk and mix until the milk is just combined.
  • Whisk one egg, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and the remaining 60ml milk together in a separate bowl.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth.
  • Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. (Cupcakes are done when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.) Leave the cooked cupcakes to cool on a wire rack.
  • Once cooled, add the chocolate frosting on to the cupcakes.

For the chocolate frosting:
150g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter
20g unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 tablespoons whole milk  

  • Beat together icing sugar, unsalted butter and unsweetened cocoa powder in an electric mixer.
  • Once well combined, add the milk to the mixture a little at a time.
  • When all the milk has been incorporated, turn the speed of the mixer up to high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting & Strawberries
150g plain flour
60g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food colouring
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1.5 teaspoons white vinegar 
  • Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  • Mix unsalted butter with caster sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer speed up and slowly add one egg. Beat until everything is mixed together.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together unsweetened cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a dark paste. Add this paste to the butter/sugar mixture until evenly combined.
  • Pour in 60ml buttermilk (to make buttermilk: mix 1 tablespoon white vinegar to 1 cup whole milk, leave to stand in fridge for 30 minutes – 1 hour), beat until well combined.
  • Add 75g sifted plain flour, mix well
  • Add the remaining 60ml buttermilk and 75g flour, be sure to mix well in between each. Turn the speed up and beat until the mixture is smooth and even.
  • Add bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar. Beat the mixture for another couple of minutes.
  • Spoon the mixture into paper cases until two-thirds full and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Leave cupcakes to cool on a wire rack.
  • Once cooled, top the cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting and half a strawberry.
For the cream cheese frosting:
150g icing sugar
25g unsalted butter
63g cream cheese
  • Beat 150g sifted icing sugar with 25g unsalted butter in an electric mixer until well combined.
  • Add 63g cream cheese and beat until it is completely mixed in. Then turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

Happy baking and be sure to indulge your sweet-tooth once in a while! 

xoxo    V.

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