It’s that time of year when Mr CC and I don sensible shoes, dig out our ‘fruit harvesting tupperware’ and venture into the wilds of the Lea Valley park to go blackberrying.
It’s also that time of year when we enthusiastically discuss how we need to learn more about the fruits, berries and leaves surrounding us and how we must go foraging as there’s so much free food on our doorstep. Upshot of this conversation? Nothing (maybe that’s harsh, sometimes I buy a book from Amazon on foraging and identifying plants), until blackberry season comes round again and then we repeat the conversation perhaps with a little more earnestness about how we “really mean it this time”.
Anyhow, we gathered our blackberries and I have used them to make a blackberry curd. Until recently, I didn’t realise you could make curd from most fruits and thought it was solely for lemons. This blackberry curd has a thick curdy texture and comforting sweet edge. To showcase it, I placed some in the cupcake and then beat some more into the Swiss meringue buttercream. I think you could beat it into any type of buttercream; I just like the silkiness of Swiss meringue buttercream…mmm butter!
My bain-marie pan doesn’t get much use but, as I use it for making lemon curd, I gave it an outing for this recipe. The pan is double walled and has a small hole on top of the handle; you fill it with water then use it as a normal pan – a bain-marie in one pan! No more balancing bowls on simmering saucepans!
Something I have learned whilst writing this post: I find “curd” a tricky word to type, not sure why as it only has four letters. I have read and re-read this post as blackberry crud cupcakes do not sound appealing!
For the blackberry curd (this made enough for the cupcakes, and to spread on one slice of toast!):
2 tablespoons water
140g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
35g unsalted butter
For the cupcakes:
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar – I used vanilla infused caster sugar
125g self raising flour
2 tablespoons milk (whole or semi skimmed)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the swiss meringue buttercream:
4 egg whites
250g caster sugar – I used vanilla infused caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 teaspoons blackberry curd
Start by making the blackberry curd: place the blackberries in a saucepan with the water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 mins.
Pass through a sieve – use a spoon to push through as much of the puree as possible.
Discard the pulp and put the puree either in a bain marie saucepan, or in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water).
Add the caster sugar, stirring to melt and slowly whisk in the beaten eggs.
Add the unsalted butter and continue to stir until it is melted.
Keep the curd on the heat and continue to stir. Gradually it will thicken, although this can take a while. Mine took at least 15 minutes.
Once the curd leaves a trail on its surface, it is ready. Another test is whether it falls from the spoon in a gloopy blob rather than as a liquid. It will firm up on cooling so take it off the heat just before it reaches the firmness you’d like the finished curd to have.
Spoon into a bowl and leave to cool, when cool store in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.
To make the cupcake sponge beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, flour, milk and vanilla 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 17 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.
Core the cupcakes and spoon enough blackberry curd into the well to fill it.
Eat the discarded cores of sponge – cook’s perks!
Now 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. This may take a while so, I repeat, don’t panic and don’t give up! This buttercream will only fail if you skimp on this stage – however sloppy it seems, keep whisking and it will come good. The time it takes varies hugely with the weather (I find) so there are no hard and fast guidelines.
When the buttercream is plump and fluffy, beat in the blackberry curd.
Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag. If it feels very soft refrigerate for 5 mins or so to firm up a little – don’t leave it for too long as piping hard buttercream is not fun!
Pipe on to the cupcakes and decorate as you wish. I went for the simplicity of a blackberry on top of each one.
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.