Forgive me for yet another sweet treat recipe, but we are in the midst of Christmas preparation, which makes it hard to do much else. I also happen to be supplying baking for the children’s school fayre this weekend, which gives me an excuse to make this recipe!
As this is my children’s fayre, I am keen to supply something worthy. There is of course a certain level of competitiveness which drives me. I grew up in awe of a few of the mum’s from my school, who were renowned for their baking. They made amazing creations for those days and their baking was always the first to sell out – I find home baking these days seems to have moved up leaps and bounds in comparison. As selling is quite key to a bake sale, I am keen for my baked goods to move like hot cakes. I also secretly (okay, not so secretly) aspire to Martha Stewart standards.
A perfectionist at heart, I take it very personally when something I make goes wrong. So I make it again, and again. I am also my own worst critic. I can only think of a handful of things I have made which have actually achieved complete satisfaction on my part. Don’t worry, I am not like this for anyone else. I reserve this particular scrutiny primarily for yours truly!
I have been lucky with this recipe. It has served me well on several occasions. I love the moist crumb and chocolate intensity which bakes beautifully every time . It also happens to be the one thing my son confessed was a favourite of all of my cooking/baking. So for him I will make these.
Another reason I love this recipe, is the little dome shape they get whilst baking. I know a lot of people prefer to have a flat topped cake for their cupcakes, but I prefer a little dome. For me, it makes the icing sit better and allows you to build on it nicely when you are piping.
So here we are, with yet another chocolate cake recipe from me – honestly, I do make other things!
Makes 12 cupcakes, in a standard muffin tin.
- 1/2 cup (110g) Butter/ Margarine (or non-dairy spread)
- 2 heaped Tbsp Cacoa (You can use Cacao, but I find it lacks in the rich intensity of flavour)
- 1/2 cup of Boiling Water
- 1 cup of Strong Bread Flour (In the UK I find Bread Flour yields the best results, if you are in North America use all purpose flour)
- 1 cup of Caster Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
- 1/4 cup of Milk with 1/2 tsp of vinegar, leave to sit for a few minutes (alternatively use 1/4 cup of Buttermilk if you have this)
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
Line your tin with 12 paper liners and set your oven to 180C
In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter with the hot water and cocoa over low heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, measure out the flour, sugar, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Give this a gentle whisk to combine the ingredients evenly. In another bowl, or large measure cup, combine your milk and vinegar mixture with an egg and the vanilla and give it a good whisk. Add a little of the chocolate mixture to the milk and egg, stirring all the while, before tipping this into the mixing bowl with the flour. Gently mix the chocolate mixture through until all the flour mixture is absorbed.
Using an ice cream scoop dish out the cake mixture into your prepared tin. You should get a dozen filled 3/4 of the way up.
Place into a hot oven to cook for 18-20 mins. Test with a cake skewer and remove to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to completely cool. After which you can decorate with a buttercream icing of your choice!
Basic Buttercream Icing Recipe
- 300g of Butter, softened (if you are using a non-dairy spread, I find you need to mix it with a vegetable fat like Trek in order to keep it from going too soft at room temperature. I use a 50:50 ratio.)
- 700g of Icing Sugar, sifted
- 2 Tbsp of Milk (dairy or non-dairy)
- 1 tsp of Vanilla essence (or other flavouring)
With an electric whisk start by softening the butter until it is light and fluffy in colour. Some days I find I need to add a little bit of the icing sugar to this, to get things started. Then add a few spoons of the sugar at a time. I find this can get messy very quickly and you would be surprised how far this light and airy sugar can spread through your kitchen! Now all recipes I have read on icing suggest adding the milk at the very end. However, I have never been able to last that long. It is possible I haven’t the strongest whisk which is holding me back, but I find adding it nearer to the end I am able to get enough slack back into the mixture to keep things moving, allowing me to achieve the soft icing I am aiming for.
At this stage I usually also add in the vanilla essence. Although, if I am using another flavouring I will wait until the end and add it in starting with 1/2tsp and then increasing by 1/4 tsps until it tastes just right. I also highly recommend the use of Wilton colour gels. The colours are amazing and intense without watering down your icing. I also find they build up in colour intensity with time, so you might find your colour is a bit brighter a few hours later.
This recipe should give you move icing than you need to pipe a generous bit of icing on each cupcake, and still have some leftover. Don’t be too eager to toss the remainder of the icing though, it will keep in the freezer for a few months if you store it in an airtight container. Just remove and allow it to come to room temperature for a few hours, give it a good whip with the electric whisk and you should be ready to start icing cakes again.