Baked (by a very amateur baker) and Delicious(ish): Part 1

Gail’s very own cupcakes. Image: Gail Lowden.

About Me

Basic food-related facts:

1. I have an extremely passionate, loving relationship. With food.

2. I grew up in a family of foodies and all-round good cooks.

3. I like to experiment, especially with cooking. But I always have to have a recipe in front of me; the bones to work from and something to refer back to when I’m in a blind panic, covered in flour.

4. Most importantly, I love baking.

The Inspiration

The moment came when I saw an advert on TV for a new magazine, Baked and Delicious. Of course I was drawn in by the pretty cupcakes, the vibrant colours and – ­most importantly – the free silicone bakeware (and free gifts for subscribing online). After subscribing I waited expectantly for two weeks for my first issue to arrive. When it did, much like the old bus adage, three came at once. The recipes seemed simple to follow, with double page spreads detailing each step along with illustrations. For the amateur like me, this is very good news, as I can constantly check if I’m going drastically wrong, or if I’m just about struggling through.

The Recipe

With three magazines to choose from, picking a recipe to try first was a tough one, but in the end I opted for the simplest but (to me) most appealing – the humble cupcake. I’ve adapted the recipe to reflect what I want in a cupcake, which is largely what I want in life – Nutella. With a bit of banana thrown in, too. Here it is:

Ingredients – for the cupcakes

125g unsalted butter, softened

125g caster sugar

2 large eggs

125g self raising flour

2 bananas

1tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp honey

For the nutella icing

175g cream cheese

175g icing sugar

125g nutella

Method – for the cupcakes

1. Line a cupcake tray with 12 cases.

2. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy. You need to ensure the butter is softened before you do this, so best to get it out of the fridge the night before.

3. Beat the eggs in a measuring jug and add to the sugar and butter. Add a spoonful of the measured flour to stop the mixture curdling.

4. In a small bowl, mash the bananas and honey with a fork, and then fold this into the sugar, eggs and butter mixture.

5. Gently fold in the rest of the flour, making sure that there are no powdery patches.

6. Add the vanilla extract. Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases. (If you’re like me, you won’t avoid the temptation to lick the spoon and mixing bowl after. You will ignore potential admonitions and warnings about raw eggs, and go for it anyway.)

7. Bake in an oven preheated to 190°C/375°F/gas 5 for 20 minutes, until well-risen and golden. Check if they’re cooked through by inserting a skewer into the centre of the largest cupcake. If it comes out clean, they’re ready, if not, they need a bit longer in the oven. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire tray.

For the frosting

8. In a large bowl cream together the cream cheese and nutella until nicely blended. Try not to eat it all now.

9. Gradually add icing sugar and continue to mix until creamy.

10. Take a palette knife and plop a large blob of the nutella mixture onto a cupcake. Smooth it down to one side of the cake, then repeat to the other side until the cake is layered as high as you desire. Don’t use it all on one cupcake – you still have 11 to go.

11. This is where it gets tricky. From the centre outwards, move the palette knife anti-clockwise to make that swirly effect you see on all the great cupcakes. Or, just lob it on and hope no-one cares.

So there you have it, banana nutella cupcakes. Stay tuned to find out how I got on actually making these…

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