What do you call a small cake? I feel that cupcakes have to be of a certain size and generally my cakes are not quite that large, due to the tins that I use, which makes them more like fairy cakes and that a muffin is something completely different again.
Last week I finally broke out of the endless cycle of work, college work, chores and sleeping to dig the baking items out of the cupboard and make some cakes. My time has been lacking for so long that I cannot remember if I have ever used the piping kit in the cupboard before so decided to fix that (it turns out I need a better kit because the main bit of it sucks) and go all out.
The cakes were great but as a result of the naff piping device the finished look is far from the best but hey CAKE! If you want to make something quick and simple that is also surprisingly therapeutic then keep on reading.
Ingredients for the cake
- 175g of sugar. The finer the sugar, such as caster or light brown, the better but granulated (the stuff often put into hot drinks) will do too if that is all you have hanging around.
- 175g of butter/margarine. There are brands such as Stork that are great for baking but again as long as it is soft/at room temperature it does not really make much difference.
- 140g of self-raising flour. If you only happen to have plain you can add some bicarb/baking power/cream of tartare magical combo to make it work just the same.
- 35g of cocoa powder. This does not have to be proper baking cocoa powder or anything fancy. It can be supermarket basics hot chocolate if that is all you have… obviously the fancier you get the more chocolatey the cake will become and the darker the mixture may be.
- 3 eggs. Generally any three eggs will be fine but if they seem to be quite small then you might want to use an additional egg as well.
- A smidge of milk to loosen the mixture up a little. A plastic milk lid or two should be enough but use your own judgement here as you might not need to use it all.
- Preheat the over to 160°c and prepare your trays with cupcake wrappers so they are all ready to go – I used a mixture of muffin trays and Yorkshire Pudding trays so use whichever works for you and of course this can be made into a big cake as well but cooking time will vary.
- Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl. This would generally be done by using a fork and depending on the type of sugar used will depend on how smooth the mixture looks but the main thing is to ensure it is all mixed together.
- Add the eggs into the mixture and again use the fork to mix everything together well. Once this is done you may want to do it for an extra 30 seconds just to really help create one consistent mixture. I tend to add a tiny amount of vanilla extract at this point but this is completely optional.
- Sieve (though if you do not have no issues just ensure there are not any obvious lumps) in the flour and cocoa powder and then use a large metal spoon (my preference but a wooden spoon will do too) to fold the flour into the existing mixture. If you want to add choc chips or something else in this is the time to do that (if you are adding dried fruit be sure to coat them lightly in flour first to stop them sinking to the bottom).
- Spoon the mixture into the cupcake wrappers and try to ensure they all have a similar amount of product in. Give the tray a little shake to help even out the top of the mixture.
- Put them in the oven for about 15 minutes and check them with a small item to see if it comes out clear afterwards. If you feel they need a bit longer then do them for another three minutes and check on them again. I find that I need to turn the tray around at the 15 minute mark as the oven does not cook evenly.
- Let the cakes cool a little in the tray to ensure they keep their shape before moving them to a baking rack. If you are in a rush you can always pop the tray or rack into the fridge to help the cakes cool down.
- 200g icing sugar
- 40g cocoa powder
- 100g room temperature butter/margarine
- Tiny amount of vanilla extract
- Small amount of tap hot water
- Put all the ingredients, apart from the hot water, into a bowl and use a fork to mix it together.
- If it seems a little too thick to be able to spread out or pipe then add a little hot water to it and mix it together. It is important to add a tiny amount of water at a time until you get the right consistency – there are few things worse when baking than ending up with a really watery mixture.
- I attempted to pipe the mixture onto my cakes but my piping kit needs replacing so after a few I ended up just spooning the mixture on top and smoothing it out. Whatever works for you, your budget, what you already have available and also how much time you have – it still tastes the same just does not look as pretty BOO. – I topped mine with some sweets at this point before the icing properly set and would recommend if you want to put sprinkles or anything else on this is the time to do so.
- Leave the icing to relax on the cake for a while before moving the tray/rack to the fridge to help set them. Then move them to a box and leave them in the kitchen – they generally do not need to live in the fridge.