Monday, 14 May 2012

Cookies 'n' cream cupcakes

Sorry I've not posted for a bit.  My excuse is that Ben's been on tour, and while he's away I tend to survive on spaghetti, cheese and peanut butter.  Nobody needs to see that.  Now he's returned looking malnourished, so we'll probably just be eating broccoli and goji berries for the foreseeable.  Actually, who am I kidding, his band aren't famous enough for us to be able to afford superfoods.  They should be though - see below - there's a book and some words and a tune and stuff.   Every single you buy gets us one step closer to the wholefoods shop.

Anyway, on to the case in hand...

My mother has recently complained that, despite being my creator and often sponsor, she has not yet had a mention here.  Well, Mummy dearest - even though your main comments on this blog so far have been, 'that's not how you spell joie de vivre' and 'I feel a bit sorry for you, you've only got six followers' (HINT, people) - this one's for you. 

My mother taught me to make cake; a skill which has put me in pretty good stead in life so far.  These cakes of my youth were by no means fancy professional things (although I do remember a pretty spectacular fairy princess castle, aged 4), but to this day, nothing tastes better than a home cooked Victoria sponge.  And those basic sponge proportions (accompanied by hundreds and thousands, bowl licking and maximum mess), taught to me as a whipper snapper, were the basis from which I started my own business, The Cambridge Cupcake Company, twenty-odd years later.

(Logo by Alex of We Thr33 Club)

It is rare in life, I think, to find an occasion which is not improved by cake.  Whilst this may sound like the sort of motto you'd find embroidered on a revolting pinterest-pinned cushion, it is none the less true; births, marriages, roller discos, the list is endless.  A disproportionate amount of this occasion based cake eating takes place in the workplace - cake for getting a job, cake for leaving a job, cake for getting fired from a job - and if you happen to mention to your colleagues that you once made cake for a living, there is a strong likelihood that you will be called upon in the aforementioned scenarios. Last week my lovely team mate Sian moved to a different (less good) team, somewhere in the midlands or something, and so she was the recipient of this little batch of C&Cs.

Now I think I've mentioned before my love hate relationship with the little sugary gremlin that is the cupcake. Nowadays - and I'm going to go out on a limb here and say - cupcakes are becoming, well, a bit passé.  Every housewife and their nextdoor neighbour has a cupcake business on the side, and the majority of these enterprises are utterly balls.  Dried out little sponges with a mound of sickly icing splothered on top and doused with glitter; the use of sprinkles apparently negating the requirement for any form of decorative finesse.  Each time I see another 'Pamela's pretty cupcakes' type page go up on facebook I want to punch myself in the kidney. 

So, why did I start a cupcake business? Well this was back in 2008, before the cupcake invaded these shores like the grey squirrel and jostled out our traditional favourites.  It was a novelty, and whilst I can't claim to be the first, I was certainly a minority .  There were only a handful of cupcake bakeries around, largely in London, and they were all doing it properly; none of the style over substance that you get now (or, 'all fur coat and no knickers' as my step father would put it).  And that's where my defence of the cupcake comes in: they don't have to be shit.  If done right, they should be just as good as your layer cake, just more compact and intricately decorated.  Pretty icing should not be an excuse for making a substandard cake.  Whilst me, my piping bag and sugar flowers became BFFs I didn't lose my childhood sweethearts, the staple sponge and good old buttercream. 

Reading this you'll probably look at the above photo and go, 'well yours may taste good but they look a bit cock, you massive hypocrite', and I would have to agree with you, because let's face it, the cookies 'n' cream cupcake, whilst delicious, definitely has a face for radio - that's its charm.  Plus we all got a bit carried away eating them and I forgot to take a proper picture.  But I promise you I can do pretty ones too, I'll show you one day.

In conclusion, whilst I'm kind of over the cupcake, they still put a smile on your colleague's faces. 

The lovely Emily, Fiona and Sian (ship jumper) of CRUK.

Cookies 'n' cream cupcakes

Makes 12 regular or about 20 mini
3 free range eggs
6oz stork/butter
5oz self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
6oz caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
About 2oz cocoa powder

Heat your oven to gas mark 3. Shove all your ingredients, except the cocoa, into the mixer and beat until well combined.  Then add your cocoa a bit at a time, until your ideal chocolatiness is achieved. Spoon into your cake cases and bake until a fork inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Timings will depend on what size you are making but I suggest about half an hour, checking after the first 20 mins.

For the icing
200g cream cheese
50g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
10 oreo biscuits, roughly crushed
Mini oreos to decorate

Beat together the icing sugar, butter (it needs to be very soft to avoid lumps) and cream cheese till combined, then stir in your crushed oreos.  Spoon onto the cooled cakes in a haphazard nature and top with a mini oreo (and some edible glitter, if that's your thing). I would recommend leaving them in the fridge overnight, as it gives the oreos a chance to go soft. 

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