I have already made decorated biscuits before and a whole cake among other things, so this time cupcakes were in order.
The beautifully decorated cupcakes require a skill in working with buttercream, something I was planning to acquire long time ago. Unfortunately summer is not the best season for serving buttercream decorated goodies as the heat will make it lose shape and even melt. Quick trips to the fridge for the buttercream involved are essential and keeping the ready cupcakes in the fridge afterwards.
In the Western world teachers are traditionally associated with apples that the students are giving them as thank you gifts, although the reasons of why an apple and not something else are lost back in time and speculations go from the apple tree of Knowledge to the traditions of Swedish and Scandinavian settlers in the United Sates, from where this tradition was passed on to the UK.
So an apple cake seemed most appropriate but I also wanted it to be very British too, so I chose a carrot cake recipe, embellished with the addition of an apple.
Funnily enough, adding the apple made the carrot cake sponge very soft in texture, so it was definitely an improvement.
Creating a tiny flower garden on top of the cupcakes was very enjoyable indeed and I can only hope the teachers enjoyed the cupcakes as much as I enjoyed making them.
And this is how the recipe goes.
Carrot and apple cupcakes
(the recipe is basically the one of Edd Kimber published in Waitrose Magazine, slightly altered)
(Makes 24 cupcakes of two sizes - 12 bigger and 12 smaller)
200 g caster sugar
200 g light brown sugar
250 ml sunflower oil
300 g coarsely grated carrot
1 medium sized apple - peeled and grated
280 g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
grated zest of 1 orange
150 g sultanas
200 g mascarpone cheese
250 g butter
200 g cream cheese
6 tbsp icing sugar
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Buttercream for piping
750 g butter
500 g icing sugar
piping tubes and nozzles for flowers and leaves
Combine the flour with the spices, salt and soda. In a bowl mix the eggs with the sugars with a balloon whisk until homogeneous. Incorporate the sunflower oil very carefully in stages and whisk until fully combined.
Add the grated carrots and apple and then the dry ingredients. Mix well and bake in two batches.
Bake at 180 C for 20 minutes.
Leave on a wire rack to cool down.
For the cream - beat the butter with the icing sugar until mixed, then add the mascarpone and cream cheese and mix well. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and set aside in the fridge.
For the piping buttercream - beat the softened butter with the icing sugar and vanilla at the lower speed of the mixer. Divide the cream into five or six cups and mix with the required colours.
One way to make the flowers is to pipe them directly onto baking paper and freeze, then carefully remove with a palette knife and top the cupcake.
Another way is to pipe directly onto the cupcake.
Start assembling after the cupcakes are completely cold. Top with the mascarpone cream and pipe/arrange the flowers.
And the cupcake bouquet I did earlier for the other teachers.