Sunday, 26 October 2008

Sultana cake with vanilla custard buttercream

This is one of my all-time favourite cakes; the last time I made it was pre-blog and pre-assuming my Caked Crusader identity. It’s simply pleasing to eat – the sponge is soft and the sultanas provide little juicy bursts of sweetness. For a fruit cake it’s also very light – don’t write it off as a heavy, Christmas-style cake.

Previously, I have made this cake and served it plainly. However, I recently came across a wonderful new buttercream recipe that combines butter with custard. I don’t have the words to describe just how gorgeous the buttercream is; it’s whipped and light and sweet and why are you still reading this – you should be off making it!!! It’s also mega-rich but oh so tasty and I knew it would work well with the sultana cake. So here it is:

The cake is light due to the inclusion of buttermilk. Whenever I look at buttermilk the Hoagy Carmichael classic “Ole Buttermilk Sky” comes to mind - never let it be said I don’t have my finger on the pulse of what the yoof are listening to! I can’t imagine a sky being the colour of buttermilk yet Hoagy wouldn’t lie to me. This clip on Youtube seems to show a buttermilk sky (with the bonus of Hoagy’s mellow vocals) but it doesn’t look much like what’s in my carton:

Some gratuitous extra shots!

Ingredients:For the cake:250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
320g sultanas
375g plain flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
170ml buttermilk

For the custard buttercream:
150ml whole or semi-skimmed milk
125g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan oven 140°C/315°F/Gas mark 2-3.
- Grease and line a 20cm square tin. It’s easier if the tin is either springform or loose bottomed.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This is a big cake that uses large quantities of ingredients so it will take longer to cream the butter and sugar. Don’t skimp!
- Gradually beat in the egg and vanilla. If the mix looks like it’s curdling add some of the flour.
- Stir in the sultanas.
- Fold in a third of the flour and baking powder, then a third of the buttermilk, then a third of the flour and so on until both are fully combined.
- Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.
- Bake for 1 - 1 ¼ hours or until a skewer comes out cleanly. Mine took 1 hour 5 minutes.
- Cool for 30 minutes before removing from the tin and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Up to this point, the cake can be made a day in advance of serving. I would only recommend making the buttercream on the day of serving.
- Now make the buttercream: Place the milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring gently to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Whisk the egg yolks and then pour the milk and sugar mix over them, whisking all the time.
- Return the custard mixture to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat stirring all the time.
- After approximately 10 minutes, the custard will coat the back of your spoon. Remove it from the heat and leave to cool. If you have overcooked the custard and it’s gone lumpy, pass it through a sieve. To be honest, I always pass custard through a sieve as it’s horrible to put something in your mouth expecting it to be smooth and getting even the tiniest lump.
- Place the butter in a bowl and whisk until it is soft and looks almost whipped.
- Gradually whisk in the cooled (but not cold) custard until combined.
- Finally, whisk in the vanilla.
- Spread the buttercream over the sultana cake.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Far Breton aux pruneaux

The weather has truly snapped over to “cold” now and coupled with the dark mornings I need my comfort food more than ever (of course, in the summer it’s the warm weather and daylight that results in me needing comfort food). What could be more comforting than a dish comprising of a baked custard batter and rum?

Here it is fresh from the oven:

I’ll admit that there were several points during making this recipe when I had doubts. It seemed so runny and compared to other Far Breton recipes it had a much higher milk content. Then the instructions said to “push the prunes down into the batter” – mine didn’t need any help! The recipe also said to brush the egg yolk on the top before putting the Far in the oven – how can you brush on top of liquid? All I’m trying to get across is that I’ve changed the instructions slightly to reflect my experience of making this dish. As you can see, the results are yummy.

Each slice is unique due to the prune placement. The prunes go squishy and soft:

A Far Breton is a traditional cake from the Brittany region of France. “Far” is a sweet batter similar to clafoutis but more eggy. Intriguingly, the dish is served for breakfast as well as dessert; I like the idea of that!

The Far can be served either hot or cold. Both the CCM (Caked Crusader’s Ma) and CCD (Caked Crusader’s Da) preferred it hot whereas I preferred it at room temperature. Heating it makes the texture softer and brings out a more eggy custard flavour. Here are the slices ready for reheating:

150g plain flour
125g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
500ml whole milk
Dash of rum
200g pitted prunes

For the glaze: 1 egg yolk

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Grease a 20cm gratin dish or alternatively line a 20cm round springform tin with baking/greaseproof paper.
- Mix the flour and sugar together then make a well in the centre.
- Add the eggs and whisk until the batter is thick and smooth.
- Keep the whisk running and slowly pour in the milk and rum.
- Pour the batter (it will be very liquid) into the tin/gratin dish and place the prunes evenly into the batter. They will sink as the batter is so thin.
- Place in the oven and bake for at least 35 minutes before attempting to brush on the egg yolk glaze. Mine was not firm enough to do that before.
- Bake further until the top is nice and golden and there’s not too much wobble when you gently shake the tin. Mine took an additional 35 minutes but I’d advise keeping an eye on it as the original recipe said it would only need 30 minutes in total! Either my oven is insane or the recipe understated it!
- The Far will sink slightly on cooling – that’s to be expected.
- Serve slightly warm with my preference, whipped cream, or if you wish to make me cry, crème fraiche.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Steamed chocolate sponge pudding and chocolate sauce

I’d like to start with a very pleasing photo:

The Universe works in mysterious ways, and – as I learned this week - often for good. Recently I have been yearning for the chocolate sponge and chocolate custard that was a regular feature of school dinners in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Then, Nigella Christmas arrived containing a recipe for a far fancier version. I admit that the book wasn’t really much to do with the Universe, more my personal view that a day without an Amazon package arriving is a bad day. Anyway, such omens could not be ignored – the Universe was clearly telling me to make my chocolate pudding.

Most people nowadays steam puddings by standing the basin in a pan of boiling water. I prefer the old fashioned method of standing the pudding over the water. The CCM (Caked Crusader’s Ma) has a cast iron – I think it’s Victorian – pan that has been handed down through the family and is perfect for the task as the capacity is so great that there’s no need to top up the water level mid-steam. Just to the left you will spot a saucepan full of cabbage – I left that in to prove that we don’t live solely on cake:

The pudding turned out perfectly:

Oh my word. It’s hard to think what to write about this. I have a passionate weakness for steamed sponge puddings – the sponge always seems so light that the laws of physics are defied. The thick, glossy chocolate sauce is irresistible and the work of minutes.

Who wants some of this moist, chocolate, light sponge and sinful sauce?

Sauce or custard? I recommend both. The CCB (Caked Crusader’s Brother) reckoned there was a yin and yang vibe going on here; he had a point - I certainly felt a sense of harmony and well being whilst eating this:

For the sauce (this can be made in advance and reheated when required):
125g milk chocolate, broken up into squares
125g plain chocolate, broken up into squares
250ml double cream
75g golden syrup
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the pudding:
175g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
40g cocoa powder
175g caster sugar
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60ml plain yoghurt
3 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

How to make:

- Start by making the chocolate sauce. If kept refrigerated, it can be made up to a week in advance and simply reheated when required.
- Place all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and melt over a low heat. Stir the mixture occasionally to ensure that no lumps remain. Either serve straight away or decant to a bowl and leave to cool. Refrigerate when cool.
- Now make the pudding: generously butter a 1.7 litre (that’s 3 pints for those of you working in old money!) boil proof plastic pudding basin and lid.
- In your steamer, ensure that you have enough boiling water to come halfway up the basin. However, I used a steamer basket, so my sponge didn’t sit in the water. Both ways work just as well.
- Put all the pudding ingredients into a food processor and blitz until the ingredients are well combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared basin and level the surface.
- Clip the lid onto the basin and then wrap the basin tightly in foil to ensure that no water can get in.
- Steam for a minimum of 1 ½ hours. I gave mine nearer 2 hours and it did no harm at all.
- When ready to serve, remove the basin’s foil and lid (careful for steam burns – it’s very hot) and put a lipped plate on top. Invert both plate and basin, and give it a slight shake until you feel the pudding is released.
- Reheat the chocolate sauce and either pour over the pudding, hence the lipped plate, or put in a jug for people to serve themselves.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Baked vanilla and cherry cheesecake

The quest for MPC (that’s My Perfect Cheesecake) has resumed. Regular readers will recall that I have had a couple of near misses but am yet to find The One. For cheesecake escapades to date, click here.

What made me hope that this could be MPC? A couple of things: I liked the idea of a shortbread biscuit base and I liked the mix of cream cheese and sour cream. The recipe as written scattered raspberries on top but I fancied cherries. I also put a line of cherries though the cheesecake in homage to those fascinatingly long, rectangular pork pies with boiled eggs in that you used to see on supermarket deli counters.

A change is as good as a rest so the cliché goes, thus I decided to make the cheesecake in my new toy – a springform terrine/loaf tin, apart from just looking a bit different, it gives lovely even slices:

I had a dilemma in Tesco this morning (in truth, it wasn’t much of a dilemma – the outcome was easily guessable if you had only a passing knowledge of me). When browsing the shortbread biscuits I had two options: firstly, a packet weighing 200g i.e. EXACTLY the right amount for this recipe or secondly, a packet weighing 150g. So of course, I bought two packets of the 150g and ate the leftovers!

Look at how the cherry juice bleeds into the cheesecake – it’s a lovely colour combination:

If there was a cheesecake equivalent of the Man from Del Monte (I’d forgotten how naff these adverts were) what would he be saying, on tasting this attempt at MPC? He’d be saying yes!

Eureka - I have found it!

For the base:
200g shortbread biscuits (you can use digestives if you prefer)
5og unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
600g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
2 tablespoons plain flour
175g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
142ml soured cream

For the topping:
425g tin of black cherries in syrup (this weight includes the syrup)

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- You will need either a 20cm round springform tin or a 30cm x 10cm springform terrine tin. I never grease a tin when making cheesecake, but you can if you wish.
- Start by making the base. Place the biscuits in a food processor and whizz until you have fine crumbs. If you don’t have a processor put the biscuits in a tightly sealed bag and hit with a rolling pin.
- Add the melted butter and mix until the base resembles smooth peanut butter.
- Spread into the base of your tin. If using shortbread biscuits, you do not have to bake the base in advance; if using digestives you should pop the tin into the oven for 5 minutes.
- Now make the cheesecake: put all the ingredients into a large bowl and beat until smooth, thick and well combined.
- Pour half onto the base and place some cherries on top. You don’t have to do this but it looks pretty when you cut slices. Pour the remainder of the cheesecake mix on top and smooth the surface.
- Bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until the cheesecake is set but still has a wobble in the middle. I used the terrine tin and mine took 45 minutes – it puffed up on baking and levelled as it cooled.
- Leave to cool in the tin. You can either cool on a wire rack, or in the oven with the door ajar.
- Just before serving the cheesecake add the topping. I used the remainder of my cherries and boiled the syrup that came in the tin until it reduced to a thick, luscious sauce.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


This week’s winner of a CAFTA (Cake’s Achievement in Film and Television Arts) award was nominated by my friend and work colleague Soo. A lot of people love the TV show “The Office” which exists in both UK and US guises. Soo takes this to another level and any reference to the show will be followed by chapter and verse on which episode and series/season it relates to.

The award is for “Cake baked by a work colleague” (if only I was on television my cakes would be winning this award!) and goes to the birthday cake that Neil, David Brent’s arch nemesis, has made for a lady in the office.

Here is the cake being served. Neil has made a fine job of his icing and decorating:

David Brent takes a piece and tries it. His face suggests that he’s prejudged it somewhat (bonus points if you spotted Monkey in the background):

He finds it a bit sweet, although everyone else seems to love it. According to one of the office workers Neil’s lemon drizzle cake is even better !

The moment that I lose all sympathy for David Brent – he says he “prefers a flan”, although there is something in the way he declares this that has me in stitches every time:

If you wish to see this brief, but wonderful scene in full – all 30 seconds of it – here it is:

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Chocolate and pear cake (gluten free)

I often start my posts with why I’ve picked to make a recipe or who it’s for. Well this one’s for me! ME! Pear and chocolate is possibly my favourite combination.

This squidgy cake is perhaps closer to a tort. It also reminds me of the various “fallen chocolate cakes” I’ve seen where, due to the absence of flour, the cake collapses slightly as it cools creating a dense, rich chocolate delight. I was a little sad that my pears were completely smothered by the chocolate batter but it’s hard to complain about a cake rising more than anticipated!

Perfect as a tea time treat or a dessert, the recipe suggested serving with crème fraiche. I have to confess that I view crème fraiche as a tool of the devil so went with thick Channel Islands spooning cream instead. The contrast between the colours and textures of the pear and chocolate is very striking:

The only tweak I made to the recipe was using half dark, half milk chocolate instead of the recommended dark. This is purely down to personal taste; I sometimes find that dark chocolate can be too harsh by itself and some milk chocolate calms it down.

One thing I would say – and I sincerely hope it won’t put you off making this cake – is that while the recipe is very easy, you do need several bowls to hold ingredients in. I needed three: one to melt the chocolate and butter, one to hold the egg yolk and sugar, and the third to whip the egg whites in. Nothing complex, it just requires a bit of prep and organisation.

The cake is so moist:

While this may not sound the healthiest of cakes, it’s got a lot of things going for it. Firstly it contains pears which are fruit and we all know we need to eat lots of fruit. Secondly it includes dark chocolate which contains anti-oxidants (I have no idea what these do but it sounds vital to wellbeing). Thirdly I served it with cream which contains calcium ensuring healthy teeth and bones. Fourthly, it tastes delicious so will make you happy. Ok, I admit I’m running out of ideas....

85g unsalted butter
85g dark chocolate (I used half dark chocolate, half milk chocolate)
1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
3 eggs, separated
85g golden caster sugar
85g ground hazelnuts
4 ripe small pears, peeled, halved and cored (you will probably only be able to fit 7 halves on the cake)

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Line a 25cm springform tin with baking paper.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, then remove from the heat and stir in the brandy. Put to one side.
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale, thick and fluffy.
- Fold the egg yolk and sugar mix into the chocolate and then also fold in the ground hazelnuts.
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they are at the soft peak stage.
- Fold one spoonful of the egg white into the chocolate mix to slacken the mixture.
- Fold the remaining whites into the chocolate being careful not to overwork the mixture.
- Spoon or pour the batter into the prepared cake tin then lightly place the pear halves on top, cut side down.

- Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the pears are soft and the cake is cooked i.e. a skewer comes out clean. Mine only took 36 minutes so you might want to start checking the cake after it’s been baking for 30 minutes.
- Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack before carefully removing from the tin. The cake will sink a little on cooling.
- Dust with icing sugar and serve with thick cream or, if you really must, crème fraiche.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Vanilla sponge puddings with butterscotch caramel sauce

These little puddings are delicious and give layer upon layer of happiness – there’s the soft, vanilla scented sponge covered in the thick oozing butterscotch caramel sauce, made even more perfect if served with vanilla ice cream to give the hot/cold contrast.

Here they are fresh from the oven; they are standing on kitchen paper to dry off from their water bath:

The sponge is light as it’s baked in the oven but sitting in a water bath so you get the benefit of steaming without having to faff around with a steamer on the hob.

Butterscotch sauce, ready for action:

It’s hard to imagine who - dietary limitations and allergies aside - wouldn’t want to eat one of these little puddings. What’s not to like?

To make them prettier and not look wonky I would level the sponge top once cooked as this will become the base on turning out. However, if you do this people will complain that they have been deprived of their crunchy bit. So it’s your call – pretty puddings or happy eaters? I went for happy eaters.

I made the puddings the day before and then reheated them the next day. They were tricky to turn out of the basins so make sure you grease the basins well (I’ve since acquired non-stick little basins, from Tesco of all places, so this shouldn’t happen again):

For the puddings:
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g vanilla sugar (supermarkets stock this, if you can’t find it just use caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons milk (semi skimmed or whole)

For the butterscotch caramel sauce:
300g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
142ml double cream

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Grease six 150ml pudding basins.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until they are pale and fluffy. Don’t skimp on this stage – give the mixture a good beating.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, don’t worry if the mix starts to curdle slightly.
- Beat in the vanilla extract – remember to use extra if you have used caster sugar rather than vanilla sugar.
- Fold in the flour and baking powder, then fold in the milk.
- Spoon the batter into the pudding basins ensuring that each one is two-thirds full.
- Stand the basins in a large, deep roasting dish and pour boiling water into the dish until it comes half way up the sides of the basins.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Mine took a while longer – around the 40 minute mark.
- Make the butterscotch caramel sauce by putting the sugar in a large saucepan along with 2 tablespoons of water. Melt the sugar over a high heat and shake the pan occasionally. The sugar will melt and become a darker brown colour.
- Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the butter – be careful as the mixture might bubble up and spit at you. Stir in the cream and return to the heat.
- Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat.
- If you are serving straight away, tip the puddings out of the basins into a dish and pour the butterscotch sauce over the top, with some ice cream on the side.
- The puddings can be made one day in advance and kept in an airtight container, still in the basins. Reheat the puddings covered in foil for 10-15 minutes at 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- The sauce can be made up to three days in advance if kept in the fridge. Simply reheat in the microwave when required, or in a saucepan on the hob.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Rheinish apple tart

I adore apples and there’s something about the first chills of Autumn that make me want them more than ever. I saw this beautiful tart on PG’s lovely site Kitchen Stories and knew I had to make it. I made a couple of very minor tweaks to the recipe but if you want to see the original check out PG’s site.

This tart is proof that sometimes all you need are a few classic ingredients to create magic! The smell of the apple and cinnamon baking was warm and inviting and it took all my powers of self control not to attack the tart as soon as it came from the oven.

The CCD (Caked Crusader’s Da) said that this was his favourite thing I had ever made and he gave it his top award. When I queried what his top award was he explained that it was “five stars”...alas, there was no cash prize or trophy accompanying it.

The apples are so juicy in their sugar and cinnamon coating. When the tart bakes the juice and sugar makes an almost toffee sauce which adds a wonderful depth to the flavour. Surprisingly, the sauce didn’t make the pastry soggy.

Just look at how juicy the apples are, and how each is coated in cinnamon and sugar:

I always leave pastry overhanging the tin when I bake a tart – what I loved about this pastry was that it naturally trimmed itself while baking i.e. the excess neatly dropped off giving a nice clean edge as well as a tasty treat for me (mmmmm, bonus pastry)! On its own the pastry is quite sweet; it's important to use a tart eating apple to balance this.

I served the tart at room temperature with clotted cream:

For the pastry:
300g plain flour
200g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the filling:
6-7 tart eating apples (I used Granny Smith)
100g sultanas
60g caster sugar (I used golden caster sugar)
2 teaspoons cinnamon

How to make:

- Put all the ingredients for the pastry in a food processor and whizz together until a soft ball of dough is formed.
- Roll the pastry out between two sheets of baking paper and use to line a 23cm loose bottomed flan tin. No need to grease this, as the pastry is rich and buttery enough. Leave any excess pastry hanging over the edge of the flan tin (it’s always best to leave trimming the pastry until after you have blind baked it).
- Leave to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/400°F/Gas mark 6.
- Peel, core and slice the apples and put them into a large bowl.
- Cover with the sugar and cinnamon and toss well to ensure that all the apples are covered.
- Take the pastry case from the fridge and scatter some of the sultanas over the base.
- Start to fill the tart with the apples. I went for a concentric circles approach to ensure the tart was well packed.
- Scatter the remaining sultanas evenly over the layers of apple.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and then leave to cool on a wire rack.
- If necessary, trim the pastry – I didn’t need to do this as I found it dropped off while baking!
- Serve either warm with custard or ice cream, or at room temperature with clotted cream.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Dulce de leche cupcakes

A midweek conversation with the CCM (Caked Crusader’s Ma) ran something like this:

CCM: What are you planning on baking this week?
Me: I’m not sure yet. Any ideas?
CCM: (response within a nanosecond) Cupcakes with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream...but I haven’t really thought about it.

So, having received my orders I then started to ponder how I could make these different to my previous vanilla buttercream cupcakes.

Dulce de leche is a sinfully delicious milk caramel sauce.

It is widely available in supermarkets but I bought mine, made by Argentineans living in London, from a stall in Borough Market. Suddenly, an idea announced itself into my brain...what if the cupcakes were flavoured with dulce de leche? Here is the prize ingredient:

I tweaked my standard cupcake recipe slightly to take into consideration that dulce de leche is made with milk. The cupcakes came out very well but I found they took a few minutes longer to cook than a plain cupcake mix.

The nude cupcakes are a beautiful caramel colour, the taste was subtle and left a hint of toffee/caramel in your mouth:

I realise I’m a bit late but here is my entry for the Turner Prize; I call it “Non vampiric cupcakes”:

My piping skills are definitely improving and I am very proud of my swirls:

For the cupcakes:
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
3 tablespoons dulce de leche
1 tablespoons milk (whole or semi skimmed)

For the buttercream:
4 egg whites
250g caster sugar – I used vanilla infused caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
- Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.
- Start by making the cupcakes. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, flour, milk and dulce de leche to the bowl and beat until the mixture is well combined and smooth.
- Spoon the mixture into the paper cases.
- Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Mine took 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. The cupcakes can be made a day in advance and stored, when cool, in an airtight container. I made the buttercream on the day I wanted it.
- Make the buttercream. Place the egg whites and sugar in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and stir constantly to stop the egg from cooking.
- After 5-10 minutes the sugar should have dissolved. You will know whether this has happened by looking at the back of the spoon – if you can see any sugar crystals the mix needs more heating and stirring.
- When no crystals are visible, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk the meringue mixture until it has puffed up and cooled.
- Add the butter and vanilla to the meringue and continue to whisk. The mixture will collapse initially but don’t panic; keep whisking and it will form a smooth, fluffy buttercream.
- Pipe on to the cupcakes and decorate as you wish.
- The finished cupcakes will keep for a couple of days at room temperature. Not that they’ll have the chance!
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.