Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Dan Lepard's Vanilla Cupcakes

Picture this little recent snippet of my life.  It's a bright sunny, blue-sky kind of day (so not today with the gales and snow that are lashing the UK).  I'm being taken out to lunch by a tall, dark, quite-handsome-for-an-old-guy* man (who isn't my husband) in his super-fast sports car.  Despite the fact that I'm packing a few more pounds than I would if this were a fantasy situation, it's all going really well.  We banter back and forth.  I laugh in the right places, am feeling reasonably witty in my replies and my usual social-ineptness has disappeared despite the situation.  The car falls into a comfortable silence for a few moments before the next topic arises.

Season-appropriate accoutrements
And suddenly I realise that we've hit that time when you've spent far too much time with someone.  Because the conversation has neatly segued onto the oh-so-hot-topic of the fat content of milk.  I kid you not.  If this was a film script, the early part of this scene would have played out against some cheesy easy-listening music from an LP.  The reason for an LP?  Because at the point of the conversation turning to milk, the needle would've scratched across the surface of the record before the stunned silence of my realisation that the conversation had degenerated to such a level.

So how does this little vignette relate to today's recipe of choice?  Well as always, it's a bit of a tenuous link but in some ways, I'm starting to spend a little too much time in the company of the fair Mr Lepard as well.  It seems that whenever I need a recipe that requires baking these days, Short and Sweet is my bible of choice.  I've tried many cupcake recipes with varying success and so far, Hummingbird Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes have been my recipe of choice (incidentally, that recipe calls for full fat milk, but it works perfectly well with skimmed - see what I did there?). 

But tonight when I had a need to bake to distract myself from the melee in my head and cupcakes appeared to be the answer, rather than, in the spirit of this blog trying out recipes from the many other baking books I own, I chose Short and Sweet because I knew I wouldn't be disappointed with the results like I was with Mary Berry's vanilla cupcakes (and I don't need any further disappointment today thank you very much).

Lepard's recipe has a simple ingredients list.  His cupcakes are based on a standard pound cake recipe.  Which funnily enough was how I used to make my cupcakes before I discovered the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook courtesy of my neighbour.  But in true Lepard style, not only does he give you instructions on how to bake with a mixer, he also tells you how to mix them by hand.  Which was perfect because I'm not allowed to use my mixer after 7pm if the husband's in (which is probably 99% of the time).  And so I am now an expert on hand-mixing cake.  Well okay I can make a pound cake by hand.

I love the tips like warming the bowl with hot water before starting beating the butter and sugar together.  And his instruction that sifting the flour is really important.  I'm sure that I read  somewhere that either Dame Mary or St Delia said that you didn't need to bother these days but if Dan says to sift, then sift I must.

The best bit of all was because the recipe is pound cake (equal weight of butter, flour, sugar and eggs), the batter is thick and easy to manouevre into the cake cases.  I get really frustrated with the runny consistency of the Hummingbird batter.  It makes a great cake but I just end up dripping it everywhere - and putting it in a piping bag is no good as it just runs out of the other end far too quickly.  It makes great cakes but it's so hard to work with.  Or at least it is if you're as cack-handed as me.

Lepard's recipe makes eight generously sized cupcakes.  I'm sure if I'd scraped the bowl clean and been a little more economical about sharing between the eight cases (and weighed the mixture so each case was evenly filled!) I could've eked out nine or ten.  Instead I got the eight cakes that the recipe suggested and plenty of bowl-licking activity for me.  This is why I am packing a few extra pounds in the little story at the start of this post!

They're now out of the oven and cooling ready for icing.  I must confess as this was a last-minute choice of recipe, I didn't have the wherewithal to make the suggested frosting which uses butter, icing sugar, condensed milk (check, check, check) and double cream (no check).  So they were decorated with a swirl of plain vanilla frosting and some Easter themed goodies ready to be taken in to work.

You'll have to wait until tomorrow for the verdict but based on past experience with anything from Short and Sweet, they're going to get a huge thumbs up.  Watch this space.

And of course, as always, I will insist that you buy yourself a copy of Short and Sweet.  I'm in no way sponsored for this evangelism. But it is probably now my favourite ever book.  Alongside The Elves and The Shoemaker....

Or you can find the recipe over on The Guardian's website

*it would be thoroughly inappropriate of me to describe this person in any other way!  I'm not wanting to offend with my choice of words but I equally wouldn't want anyone to misconstrue the situation if I phrased it differently...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...