Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Cupcakes

So my little girl turns two tomorrow.  And as part of a few days of festivities, we spent an hour this afternoon baking the first of four sets of birthday cakes.  I know this sounds a bit excessive, but I'm trying to make her birthday a bit special.  We don't have a huge family and because I work full time and haven't been able to take her along to playgroups, I don't have a myriad of other mummies with offspring to invite over for a party.

Tomorrow, it's just me, her and the husband.  On Thursday I'll send some mini cupcakes to school with her for her classmates.  On Friday, my two neighbours are coming round for coffee with their children so we'll have cupcakes then and on Saturday, the 'rents are coming down so her official birthday cake will be made.

I must check myself here because earlier I had a bit of a rant on Facebook about people who buy excessive piles of presents for their two-year-olds.  And here I am making four lots of cakes for mine!

One of the reasons I've probably not made an effort to 'bond' with some of the other mothers is because I'm not really a woman's woman.  I have female friends, don't get me wrong.  And the ones I have are ace.  But I'm not a girly girl, I don't enjoy shopping and working in a male-dominated environment suits me down to the ground.  I felt like a social outcast in my post-natal group as although I wasn't the oldest mother, I was the oldest first time mother.  I was the only one who breastfed and I was the only one going back to work.  All of which immediately seemed to mark me out as a pariah.

One of the cakes...
And then we come on to some of the other mothers who've acquaintance I've made.  Like a fool, I let down my guard and added them as friends on Facebook (they've since been removed).  Some of them posted pictures of the piles of presents that their under-two offspring got for Christmas.  Seriously, it was obscene.  One had a travel cot packed full of presents for a one year old.  Now maybe they have a large and generous family - I don't know - but it just seemed wrong that so much should be lavished on a child who probably wouldn't appreciate it.

I passed comment on this by way of saying that the best thing Miss A had for Christmas was the huge cardboard box that all my Christmas shopping came in from Amazon.  We turned it into a car.  A bit later we pulled the flaps out and turned it into Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  She was heartbroken when my husband crushed it in front of her and stuck it in the recycling bin.  And yet she has piles of toys (comparatively small piles I might add) that she rarely touches.  She's far happier in the kitchen with me, demanding to crack eggs or rolling and cutting bits of spare dough.

In response to my comment, one mother posted that I shouldn't feel bad I was so poor, and that if I saved hard, I could make it up to her for Christmas.  She missed my point entirely.  Again, I don't know this particular woman's personal finances, but I wouldn't imagine she's that well off knowing what I do.  More young and naive.  I earn a decent salary thank you very much and I could, if I felt like it, buy my child an iPad (yes, this is what her child got for Christmas amongst about fifty other things).  But seriously?  A not-yet-two-year-old with its own iPad.  The world has gone mad.

And they call it Puppy Love
The best thing that happened to Miss A today (besides getting to crack three eggs) was when we popped to the shops and we discovered the Guide Dogs for the Blind collecting box that has recently appeared.  She spent a good ten minutes sat talking to the plastic dogs and petting them.  This is what children are supposed to do.  Not live in sterile worlds with only electronic devices for company.

And I'm glad for my child and her creative imagination.  Because when she wakes up tomorrow morning, I'm hoping that she will be chuffed that I've turned her chocolate cupcakes and bits of biscuit into a dachshund.  Now it takes a bit of imagination (and you need to know what a dachshund is!!) but Miss A does adore her dogs and particularly, Rolo our dachshund.  As it's just the three of us tomorrow, I didn't want a huge, elaborate cake but I wanted to do something that she'd love and could be involved in making.

I happened across the inspiration for this a while ago and it seemed perfect.  So with a few shaped bits of chocolate biscuit and some ganache-topped chocolate cupcakes from the original Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, we have ourselves a dachshund.

Last year's cake. It's a zebra, alright?!
Of course, I then made the fatal mistake of asking the husband if it looked like a dachshund.  He said something along the line of 'it's some chocolate cakes', crushing any imaginatory spirit that I had.  Okay, so the picture (below) is rubbish because of poor lighting and space in my kitchen but it looks vaguely dog like, doesn't it?

I should know better, after he decided that all the effort that went into last year's big cake created a cow.  It was supposed to be a zebra.

Anyway, after a lot of waffling, here's a tiny bit about the bake.  The book states that the Hummingbird Bakery uses a Devil's Food Cake mix for their cupcakes.  I don't know what constitutes the difference between Devil's Food Cake and regular chocolate cake but it has a high sugar and low butter and egg content.  This makes for a soft, sticky cake which personally I found too sweet.  I blogged before about my issue with Hummingbird Vanilla Cupcakes being sticky on the top and not being able to stack them.  I had the same problem with these.

Another problem I faced tonight was that for some reason, the wrappers started to peel from the edges of the cake.  I've had this before with the vanilla recipe too but I don't know why.  Last time I assumed it was the wrappers or the heat that caused it (it was in the summer) but this time, it's much cooler and I used different wrappers which have been fine with other recipes.  If anyone is still reading this far through and knows what I'm doing wrong, I'd appreciate the advice!
Chocolate dachshund made with Miss A's help

I topped these cakes with some chocolate ganache made with half chocolate, half cream, a knob of butter stirred in and a half teaspoon of vanilla essence.

If I'm honest, I won't bake these again.  I much prefer the chocolate cupcake recipe over at Joy of Baking.  Best ones ever and always get me compliments.

Chocolate cupcakes (recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery)


  • 100g plain flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 40g soft unsalted butter
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and butter in a large bowl and beat on a slow speed with an electric hand mixer until well combined and a sandy consistency.
  3. Whisk the egg, milk and vanilla extract together in a jug and add half to the dry mixture.
  4. Beat slowly to combine and then more quickly to beat out any lumps.
  5. Add the remaining liquid mixture and beat slowly to combine. Do not overmix.
  6. Transfer the mixture into the cake cases until 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven until they spring back to the touch. A skewer inserted should come out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack


  1. I love your Dachsund cake idea - looks fab, I love the Zebra (I haven't ever attempted anything so fancy) and I think Miss A is a very lucky girl for having such a hardworking and sensible mummy!

    I too find the Hummingbird Bakery chocolate cupcakes very sweet and also get that sticky top. Haven't had a problem with them pulling away from cases though, so can't help there.

  2. Hey there - I just came across your post as I was looking for the Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Cupcake recipe. I was, however, quite taken with your post about what you wish for your little one. I soooo get your comment about the box... my girls get a thrill when we get a new box of nappies because they get the box. And then their imagination soars! And the amount of gifts during Christmas... OMG! Luckily, my oldest seems to understand and embrace the concept of donating. I'm hoping that her 2 younger siblings will follow her path. Living with 3 kids in a two bedroom apartment, we can't afford to have so many toys. As for the two bedroom apartment thing - it's a lifestyle choice rather than a financial choice, but not many other people understand that.

    As for other parents, I lucked out with my Mother's group... we all come from different ways of life and we all have slightly different ways of raising our kids (some mothers work in paid employment; one has her own business; a couple of mothers are full-time stay-at-home moms; some of the mothers did the controlled crying and some of the mothers do the co-sleeping etc), but there are two things that we have mainly in common that has allowed us to continue to be a close-knit support group even 4 years down the track and that's a.) we raise our kids to display consideration for others and b.) it's all about the mothers (how are you coping with ...? Are you doing alright?). No judgements about what we're doing just a huge concern on how we are feeling and coping with the choices that we have made and continue to make.

    I know it's a long-winded comment and probably more serious than you need it to be, but your post touched me. I hope that you find (or have found) some like-minded parents out your way (or even on the internet!) that supports you - not because you do this or that with your little one or that you buy this or that, but because you love your little and you just want to do what's best for you and your family. (I like to include myself as that type of parent so...) We do exist!

  3. Wow - now that it's been published... that was a long comment!!!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...