After the spectacular success (ahem) of last week’s ice-cream cupcakes and cake pops, it was perhaps inevitable that my next attempt at toddler party cake joy wouldn’t turn out so well. Not that these don’t taste great (of course they do! they’re cakes covered in buttercream and marshmallows – what’s not to like?) but they don’t quite reach the visual heights previously scaled. I’m not even sure that without considerable prompting by someone in the know (i.e. me) they are recognisably sheep. Ho hum. We live and learn. Baaa.
Cupcake and buttercream recipes from Hummingbird Bakery: Cake Days
Makes about 18-24 depending on size of cupcake cases
Ingredients:Cupcakes 240g plain flour 280g caster sugar 3 tsp baking powder a pinch of salt 80g unsalted butter, softened 240ml whole milk at room temperature 2 eggs ½ tsp vanilla extract Filling Raspberry/Strawberry Jam
Buttercream Icing 200g unsalted butter 600g icing sugar 1tsp vanilla extract 2-3 tbsp whole milk Decorations Large bag of mini marshmallows in white White marzipan or sugarpaste (can also be black sugarpaste)
White and black icing/gum drops/chocolate buttons etc
Pre-heat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and line a muffin tin with cupcake cases of your choice. Put the flour, sugar, salt and butter into a free-standing mixer and beat slowly until the mixture resembles fine, sandy breadcrumbs. Or use a hand mixer instead. Gradually poor in 120ml of milk and beat again until the milk is just incorporated.
In a separate bowl or jug, whisk 120ml of milk, the eggs and the vanilla extract, then pour into the flour/butter mixture and continue beating. You will probably need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice to ensure you incorporate all of the mixture (a silicone spatula is excellent for this). Continue beating until the mixture is smooth, but only a couple of minutes, mind, lest you beat out all of the air.
Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases using implements of your choosing (mine is an old fashioned hinged ice-cream scoop). The cases should be about two-thirds full.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the cakes are a light golden colour and bounce back when pressed gently. Leave them to cool slightly in the tins (5 minutes is usually enough) before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Fill the centre with raspberry/strawberry jam.
For the icing, beat the icing sugar and the butter together in a free-standing mixer/ with a hand mixer, on a slow to medium speed until the mixture comes together. With the mixer on a slow speed, add 2 tablespoons of the milk and the vanilla extract beat again until the mixture is light and fluffy; 5 minutes at least. You can scale up/down the amount of icing using the ratios given, but as you will be decorating the cupcakes with copious amounts of marshmallows and other sugary things, you don’t need as much icing as I would normally recommend. Just enough to add moistness and give the marshmallows something to stick to.
Make the sheep’s’ faces by gently breaking off a small piece of marizpan/sugarpaste and rolling into a rectangle shape. Break off two much smaller pieces for ears and roll those into balls before flattening. Attach the ears to the top of the head by pressing gently. Use a toothpick or similar to create the nostrils and then place the eyes on the head, using icing or edible glue. There are many ways to make the eyes and it was only my irrational hatred of sugarpaste that led me to use piped icing. This was not a total disaster, but the eyes are a nightmare to work with because the icing doesn’t dry hard, and I lost many of them before they reached the head. If I ever do this again I will use royal icing so that the eyes set hard, or else just suck it up and get with the sugarpaste programme. Blah.