Cupcakes for a birthday celebration – why not? It’s a great idea, particularly if you’re only getting together for morning or afternoon tea and you don’t want everyone to leave uncomfortably full.
It was my sister’s birthday this last weekend and she was stopping by for afternoon tea, so I decided to go the cupcake route, rather than a full-on layered birthday cake. It didn’t mean, though, that I skimped on quality. These vanilla cupcakes, with their raspberry jam centres and white chocolate buttercream frosting, were every bit as delectable as a proper cake.
I used pretty little cupcake cases to make them extra feminine and, even though you can’t see it in the photos (sadly), sprinkled each one with sparkly luster dust. The birthday girl got her cupcake, complete with pearly pink candle, delivered on a large plate with ‘Happy birthday’ written on it in pink icing. Spoilt rotten, she is.
Thanks to Countdown for their moist and tender vanilla cupcake recipe. I personally reduced the oven temperature by 20 degrees Celsius and baked them about 5 or so minutes longer, after reading that you tend to get flatter cupcakes if you bake them longer and slower. However, I’ve left the recipe as is, so you can decide for yourselves. Oh, and by the way, I found that the recipe made only 9 cupcakes, but I used reasonably tall cupcake cases – presumably you could get 12 if you used smaller cases.
I made some simple raspberry jam to add to the centre of the cupcakes – I prefer home-made jam because I can control the sugar content, and given the extreme sweetness of the frosting, I went for a really tangy jam. But, if you can’t be bothered making it, just add store-bought jam instead.
The super light and fluffy white chocolate buttercream is, of course, the crowning glory – I added a little salt in mine to counteract the sweetness as much as possible. You’ll find that there’s more than enough for 12 cupcakes – as I only made 9 cupcakes, I had loads left over to freeze for another time.
Ideal for any celebration, these cupcakes look and taste perfect.
- 125g (4.4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/2 cup caster sugar (superfine)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup standard flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 50g (1.75 oz) raspberries
- 25g (0.88 oz) caster sugar (super fine)
- 200g (7 oz) white chocolate, chopped
- 250g (8.8 oz) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 250g (8.8 oz) icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F)*. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. Cream butter on its own initially, until smooth, then add the vanilla essence and sugar (gradually) and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.**
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Fold a third of the flour mix into the creamed mixture, followed by half of the milk. Fold the second third of flour in, then the remaining milk. Finish with the last third of flour.
- Spoon mixture evenly into the prepared tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cakes spring back when lightly touched. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Into a small saucepan, add the raspberries with the caster sugar. Over a moderately low heat, cook the raspberries down (mash them with a fork or potato masher to break them down more quickly) until the sauce starts to become syrupy - this will take a few minutes. Take off the heat and strain through a sieve into a small jug or bowl to remove the seeds. Store in the fridge to firm up. If you find the jam is too runny, you can add a little store-bought jam into the mixture to stiffen it up.
- Add the chopped white chocolate to a heat-proof bowl, and place on top of a saucepan of gently simmering water (making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water). Stir it gently to melt and once the chocolate is nearly all melted, take the bowl off the heat and continue to stir until the chocolate is smooth. Let it cool.
- Add the soft butter to an electric mixer with paddle attachment. Sift the icing sugar and pinch of salt over top and beat together on average speed until pale and fluffy.
- Pour the cooled chocolate over top and beat on low speed until well combined and silky smooth. If the mixture is too wet for piping, add more icing sugar and beat to combine. If it is too dry, add a little milk and beat to combine. If making ahead, store in fridge, but bring back to room temperature before piping.
- Using a sharp paring knife, cut out a cone-shaped hole into the top of each cooled cupcake. Dollop a teaspoon of jam into each hole. Transfer the buttercream into a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice, and pipe onto cupcake. Decorate further if you wish and serve.
**It's common for the mixture to curdle after beating in the eggs (due to differing temperatures). If you find this is the case, and extra beating doesn't solve the issue, don't worry about it - the mixture will still cook perfectly.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting