Cake Obligations

Like many offices, there is a requirement here to provide cake on or around your birthday. They don’t have to be homemade but I do like an excuse to bake. I stuck with the cupcake theme and although I used the Hummingbird Bakery’s absolutely foolproof recipe for the cakes themselves I did get creative with the flavourings.  I’ve realised the raspberry ones look exactly the same as the last ones, they just taste a bit fancier. These are not a low calorie option but everyone ate more than one, including me!  I went to our kitchen in the afternoon to get some better photographs and they had all gone.

Both recipes are sufficient to fill and decorate 12 cupcakes.

Blueberry and Limoncello Cupcakes

For the filling :

  • 36 blueberries (or thereabouts)
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Limoncello liqueur

Place the blueberries in a small pan with the water and caster sugar. Bring just to the boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer until the syrup starts to thicken. Remove from the heat, stir in the Limoncello, transfer to a small dish, cover and chill.

For the candied lemon peel :

  • 1 unwaxed lemon, washed
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 200 ml cold water

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in large pieces, avoiding as much of the pith as possible. Slice into very small strips with a sharp knife and put in a small pan with the sugar and water. Bring just to the boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer until the peel is translucent. Remove lemon strips from the pan with a fork and place on a sheet of baking parchment in one layer and leave to cool. Yes, this probably was all a bit unnecessary but it did make a nice garnish.

For the mascarpone cream :

  • 250g mascarpone
  • 125g custard – I cheated and used ready made (as I have done before)

Blend together until smooth. Easier said than done because the mascarpone has a tendency to go lumpy.

 To decorate :

  • 36 blueberries
  • Candied lemon peel (see above)

Raspberry and Amaretti Cupcakes

For the filling :

  • 12 raspberries (again approximate)
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons raspberry jam (just because I had some left from the last batch of cupcakes – you could use sugar instead as with the blueberries)
  • 2 tablespoons Framboise liqueur (or kirsch, or you could leave it out altogether but better not to!)

Follow the same method as for the blueberry filling.

For the white chocolate ganache :

  • 200 ml double cream
  • 200g white chocolate, broken into small pieces

Place the double cream in a small saucepan and bring just to the boil. Place the white chocolate in a bowl and pour over the cream. Stir until the chocolate has melted.   Allow to cool and chill. Before using, whisk with an electric whisk to fluff it up – at this stage I decided it was a bit too solid to spread easily so I added a little more whipped cream to loosen it.

To decorate :

  • 12 raspberries
  • Flaked almonds

To assemble cupcakes :

  • Use a small cutter approximately 2.5 cm in diameter to remove a section from the top of each cupcake. I also remove a small amount of additional crumb to ensure there is enough space for the filling. There is usually someone on hand to eat this!
  • For the raspberry cupcakes sprinkle in one teaspoon of crushed ratafia or amaretti biscuits.
  • For both cupcakes, spoon in one teaspoon of the fruit filling followed by a further teaspoon of the mascarpone or ganache mixture.  I was thinking of piping at this stage which is why they look so pretty but I moved on from that plan.
  • Press a sponge circle back onto the top of each cake.
  • Spread the mascarpone cream over each blueberry cake and decorate with three blueberries and the candied lemon peel.
  • Spread the white chocolate ganache over the raspberry cakes and decorate with one raspberry and the flaked almonds. I found using a knife dipped in warm water help to ensure a smoother finish on the ganache.

I finished filling and icing these at 6.30 am and the kitchen was left in a very messy state to clear up later! W refused to eat a cupcake for breakfast to check they were OK. Not like him at all!