Now everyone knows that Sophie Caldecott is the undisputed baking champion of Style & Then Some, what with her melt-in-your-mouth macaroons (trust me, I’ve tasted them) and her ultimate chocolate chip cookies. Truth be told, I’m too lazy to be a regular bakeaholic, but every so often I like to make an extra special effort in the kitchen. Last week, my housemate Caroline was having a bit of a fundraiser in our flat, a Mad Hatters Tea Party. Sticking with the Alice in Wonderland theme, and inspired by the cupcake lust I was feeling recently, I decided to have a go at some cupcakes that I think the Queen of Hearts would totally gobble up. I discovered some ingenious red and black edible felt tip pens over on Jane Asher’s website (if you’re a baking fan be warned, you could easily spend a fortune on this site) and set to work with the fondant icing. Admittedly, decorating these cakes was a little bit fiddly and took a while, but if you want a project for a rainy afternoon they’re really fun to make. And they got lots of oohs and ahs at the party, which is always satisfying, am I right bakers?
(I used the recipe from the book that comes with this Cupcakes Kit)
For the cupcakes:
150g unsalted butter or margarine, softened
150g caster sugar
175g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the toppers:
500g packet ready to roll fondant icing
2 food colour pens in red and black
Icing sugar (for rolling)
For the buttercream icing:
150g butter, softened
150g icing sugar
1 teaspoon hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Red cupcake paper cases (I used mini cases and this made about 24)
1. Start by making the shapes for the decorations. Dust a surface with icing sugar and roll out a lump of the fondant and use cookie cutters (if you have them – I found a club shape in a drawer at home) and/or a knife to cut out club, diamond, heart and spade shapes. For the card shapes, I used a rectangle and then rounded off the corners with the flat side of a knife blade. Oh, and I made a little tea cup and saucer too, just for fun. Place the shapes on a piece of grease proof paper and put them to one side to harden.
2. Make the cupcakes by putting all the batter ingredients in a food processer and whisking for 1-2 minutes until light and creamy. Divide the mixture evenly among the cake cases and bake at 180°C for 18-20 minutes until risen and pale golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
3. Once the fondant shapes have hardened, use the icing pens to decorate them. Colour the diamonds and hearts red and the spades and clubs black and draw numbers and shapes onto the little playing cards. Since this was my first try I decided to stick with simple aces, but having had a bit of practice I would probably go for some more complicated numbers next time. Put the shapes back on the greaseproof paper to dry completely.
4. Make the buttercream icing by beating together all the ingredients. Leave it to cool in the fridge for 5 mins if it’s too runny.
5. Pipe (or just spoon delicately if you haven’t got a piping bag) a small mound of icing onto the middle of each cake and place a fondant shape on top, gently pushing it into place. My fondant-to-cupcake ratio was slightly off so I finished off some of the cakes with a swirl of icing and a sprinkling of red and white stars that came out of a tub from Tescos.