Friday, 11 May 2012

Jelly Baby Cupcakes

Ready for a snooze in the oven
A few weeks ago, I hit on the idea of making Jelly Baby Cupcakes with Miss A as a present for her grandad - my stepfather.  Terry loves Jelly Babies and has a really sweet tooth so this seemed like the perfect activity to occupy Miss A with and had the result that I could bake without worrying too much about my diet.

I had a quick Google this morning for a recipe (the 'rents are due to visit tomorrow to give me a few precious Miss A-free hours to get some housework done) and the only blog I could find was on the OlliesPops blog telling a tale of woe that Rachel had tried and failed to achieve a similar feat.

She gives a good account of testing several different things baked into the middle of cupcakes and advice that she'd tried freezing the jelly babies first, but sadly, they sank to the base of the cupcake case and left a nasty, sticky mess.  Poor Jelly Babies!  She didn't, however, divulge what her recipe was so I figured I'd have a go with my own method and see if I could succeed.

First thing was to choose a decent batter.  Having tried several different vanilla cupcake recipes, I settled on using the recipe I used to rely on before I got back into cooking.  This is a basic pound cake mix that I make by weighing my eggs and then using equal quantities of flour, sugar and butter.  Because I didn't want the jelly babies to sink, I added an extra 25g of flour and to compensate, I added an extra teaspoon of baking powder to make sure they had a good rise to them.

"I'm the king of the castle"
Another thing I tried today was inspired a little by Dan Lepard (yeah, him again!) and his Bare Banana Cake from earlier in the week.  I'd just bought my butter from the supermarket so it was still cold.  I seem to remember somewhere in my Lepard-based reading this week that apparently if you find yourself with solid butter, it's perfectly acceptable to melt it in the microwave on a low heat for a minute or two and have the butter be partly liquid.  

Mine was about 60% solid to 40% liquid when I took it out so I beat it well with the sugar until I was sure that it wasn't warm enough to turn the eggs to scramble.  There was no difference to the end product than if I'd used room temperature butter.  In fact, it was better as I hand-mixed the cake (well with a wooden spoon and in a bowl of course!) so it meant I didn't have to faff around with cleaning the mixer afterwards.

I also took the decision to bake them at a lower temperature than normal (150c fan) in the hope that this wouldn't melt the jelly babies and I covered them in with a little spoonful of batter in the vain hope that encasing them would help prevent the melt.  Because I'm a wuss though, I only baked jelly babies into four, figuring that if they failed, I'd still have a dozen decent cupcakes to ice and top with jelly babies for the gift.

Bless my darling daughter, she bought the story that I was putting the jelly babies to bed when I covered them with cake.  When they went into the oven, she peered through the door as normal and when I asked what she could see, she said 'Shush Mummy.  Jelly babies are sweeping'

Mourning the fate of his buddy inside - note the sticky wrapper
My cakes took around 35 minutes to bake whereas they'd normally be done in 25.  I couldn't see any sign on the base of the case of disaster so I merrily iced them with a thick, lemon based icing, and topped them with another jelly baby.  A few pics and then the moment of truth.  Exactly the same problem that Rachel had.  A gooey-bottomed cake.

I then got to thinking that maybe I should've floured them in the same way that you do with fruit to stop it sinking to the bottom.  But why bother with the faff?  The simple solution would be to just bake the cakes, carefully hollow out a jelly-baby sized hole in the middle, pop the jelly baby in, replace the cut out bit (after having reshaped to make it into a nice little bed cover), ice over the top and voila!  Jelly baby cupcakes!

I'm a bit cross with myself as I've iced all of my cakes now so it's too late for this time round.  But next time I've got some spare cuppies, I'll give it a go.

So any plain vanilla cupcake recipe would work for the 'cut and cover' method.  Still, here's how I would do it next time.

Jelly Baby Cupcakes - Makes approx 16 (in muffin cases)

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened (see above tip on microwaving)
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp lemon essence 
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the icing

  • 200g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 32 jelly babies (if you make less than 16 cakes, you can eat the rest!)
  • One or two 12-hole muffin tins (you can bake in batches if needs be)
  • Cupcake cases (use larger ones to make sure you have enough depth to put the jelly baby in)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/Gas 4.  Line the muffin tins with cake cases.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (or if your butter is melted, until well combined).  Add the lemon essence.
  3. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together.Add an egg to the mixture and beat until incorporated.  Now add two tablespoons of flour and beat until the flour is well mixed.  Repeat this until all the eggs have been added.  Beat in the rest of the flour. 
  4. Fill the cake cases two-thirds full.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes until risen, springy and golden brown.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  6. To make the icing, sift the icing sugar and then add two tablespoons of lemon juice and mix.  You're aiming to get a thick, spreadable icing so if you need more liquid, add a few drops of juice at a time until you get the right consistency.  You can always add a little extra icing sugar if you make it too runny.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut a 'divot' from the centre of each cake.  The hole should be wide and deep enough to put the jelly baby in and allow you space to put the 'divot' back on.  Trim each of the 'divots' to fit snugly on top of the jelly babies and flush to the cake.  Now carefully add a teaspoonful of the icing and spread with the back of the teaspoon to cover the cake.  I find keeping the teaspoon damp helps with the spreading.
  8. Finally top with another jelly baby.  If you've got the right consistency of icing, you should be able to stand your jelly babies upright.

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