There really is something about cupcakes. They are infinitely customisable and the lure of the cute, miniature cake reels me in every time. Facebook and Instagram are littered with endless images from inventive and talented cupcake makers from all over the world to serve as inspiration. The only difficultly is picking which brightly coloured creation your heart desires today. Well, ish…
You see, cupcake recipes are sneaky little buggers. They seem all sweet and innocent, inviting and easy to do but can I tell you – I have shed more tears of disappointment over cupcake recipes than any other bake. If you’re not a regular baker and anyone ever tries to tell you cupcakes are an easy option – beware! The potential for exploding, erupting cakes with muffin tops or sunken, sad little puddles not to mention those recipes which seem to be 90% air holes and 10% cake which disintegrate as you unwrap under a ton weight of buttercream frosting is all too real a possibility! All recipes are not created equal. Having previously veered from my all time favourite cupcake recipe in favour of a little variety and been disappointed, I approached my favourite cupcake maker on Facebook – Beverley of Something About Cupcakes to ask her what recipes she recommended as no fail, dummy proof. She loves the Hummingbird Bakery and bases her cupcakes on their basic recipes, creating endless flavour combinations – her work is just stunning and her Facebook page lifts my heart with all her perfect little beautiful cakes. Beverley totally has that certain something je ne sais quois about cupcakes, I highly recommend you follow her page (or buy her cupcakes if you live in Nottingham!). She recommended her basic chocolate cupcake recipe and it was a brilliant base to work from to develop this recipe.
I wanted a rich chocolate cupcake with substance and had some raspberry ripple flavoured icing sugar I’d won from Sugar & Crumbs which I was longing to use along with some frozen raspberries to be used up as I’m trying to empty our freezer (I suppose the regular need to get down and dirty to defrost our useless freezer is penance for the frivolous nature of these pretty little cupcakes!). To combat the extra moisture of the berries, I added a tiny amount more flour, a spoonful more cocoa and used smaller eggs also. The method is very unusual as you essentially rub the butter into the dry ingredients then pour in all the wet ones and you’re down. No creaming of butter and sugar nor adding flour and milk or eggs in alternating spoonfuls. Also, the ratio of ingredients is completely different to almost every other cupcake I’ve made – very little butter, quite a bit of sugar and a lot more milk. Interesting! But how wonderful when baked they are – so moist, you could swear they’d been made with meted chocolate not cocoa powder which has a drying effect on any cake it is added to. I sprinkle some dark chocolate chips on top before baking to give a little goo and welcome rich bitterness against the sweet frosting on top but you can omit these if you prefer. I quite like my cupcakes to have added extras in their middles. These cupcakes wouldn’t be out of place served as a dessert.
Filling to 2/3 full produced quite domed tops on baking but I’m a serial over-filler anyway so I may have been too generous with the scooping. If you like yours to be flat then fill no more than half full. A reader on my Facebook page passed on the tip to put a dish of water in the bottom of the oven when baking them to create a flat top – I’ve not tried this yet but I will next time as it makes frosting them an easier job. Do let me know what your tips and tricks are too – I love to hear from readers. To finish them off, a spritz of lustre spray is pretty to bring a sparkle to your frosting and in this case, some chocolate stars to cover where you finish piping the rose of buttercream on top. I find Dr Oetker chocolate stars at reasonable prices in loads shops in the UK, they are very handy for cupcakes and worth stocking up on when you see them. One last tip of my own is to use two muffin pans overlapped to give you 4 extra holes to bake the whole batch in one go. I shared this photo on Facebook a while back and it totally went viral! If you are in the USA you’ll be accustomed to pans with more holes but here in the UK, 12 is standard but as this recipe make up to 16 cupcakes, this means you can bake the lot in one go. Happy baking!
- 70g soft butter
- 250g caster sugar
- 175g plain flour
- 65g cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 2 medium eggs, must be at room temp
- 210ml whole milk, must be at room temp
- 175g frozen raspberries
- 100g dark chocolate chips (optional)
- 250g icing sugar*
- 100g soft butter
- 1-2 tbsp whole milk
- A drop of pink food colouring (optional)
- Chocolate stars (optional)
- Lustre spray in pink (optional)
- Preheat oven to 175°C. Place cupcake papers in a muffin pan. I overlap two muffin pans to give me an extra row meaning I can bake all 16 at once – do check you can fit them in your oven before you start though to avoid disappointment!
- Place the flour, cocoa, baking powder, butter, salt and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and beat until the butter has been well incorporated and it resembles a fine crumble in texture.
- Beat the eggs into the milk and then with the mixer running on slow, pour in to the flour mixture until just mixed in.
- Stir in the raspberries. Frozen mix in better, holding their shape but it’s not a deal breaker at all to use fresh ones – you just need to be more gentle.
- Scoop the mixture into the prepared muffin pan. I used an ice cream scoop. Fill no more than half full if you want flat topped cupcakes or two thirds full if you don’t mind them a bit bigger and more domed in appearance.
- Sprinkle over a few chocolate chips (5-6 ish) per cupcake if using and bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen, springs back when pressed gently and a skewer comes out clean from the centre, avoiding a berry.
- Cool on a rack.
- I like to make buttercream in the food processor so place the butter and flavoured icing sugar in and blend it for a couple of minutes until very smooth. Add milk as needed to give a soft but pipeable texture. Add food colouring if using.
- Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a 1M (large star) shaped nozzle and pipe roses on top, starting in the centre of the cupcake and swirling out once or twice to produce the rose shape.
- Spray with lustre spray if using and top with chocolate stars or buttons (freeze dried raspberry powder is another good topping) if using.
- *= I used raspberry ripple flavoured icing sugar from Sugar & Crumbs (online baking ingredients store in the UK) but you can use ordinary icing sugar with a splash of vanilla extract or try a raspberry extract if you find one you like (I haven’t as yet).