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The rise and rise of cupcakes
Cupcakes are literally on the rise. Even the most macho of men cannot resist the cute cream frosted confections covered in colourful sprinkles.
Traditionally found at the table of children’s parties, the melt-in-your-mouth miniature cakes are now found around almost every corner.
The cupcake revival has no doubt been helped along by TV chefs such as Nigella Lawson and fashionable shops including the Hummingbird Bakery.
Boutique bakery Sweetie Pies serves bespoke cakes that customers can enjoy in the quintessential café in Twickenham’s cobbled Church Street, or take four for an afternoon treat by the riverside.
The vintage-style tearoom, established in 2010, hand-bakes and ices its sweet treats daily and also creates bespoke cupcakes for special occasions.
Owner Rebecca Cefai says: “There’s a genuine feeling of nostalgia over cupcakes which I think is something that kicked off the cupcake trend.
“A freshly baked cupcake has that homely taste and smell - something that’s so hard to beat.
“But I think the reason they’ve stayed around so long is to do with how versatile they are - they really can be tailored and decorated to suit any occasion or personality, a completely personalised box of sweetness.”
Rebecca says more and more of us are putting on aprons and creating our own, and she offers cupcake decorating parties for just that.
She says: “It’s hard to beat the feeling you get when you’ve baked something from scratch and you can enjoy it straight out of the oven.
“One of my earliest memories from my childhood is the time I spent in the kitchen with my parents. If it wasn’t mixing the ingredients for dad's special hamburgers, it was helping grate the carrots for mum’s carrot cake, or finding the rosemary in the garden for the lamb roast.
“One of my favourite things about baking is the fact that anyone can do it and the relationships you build learning about food, taste, smell and the world.”
Recipe - blueberry and lemon cupcakes
Ingredients For the cupcakes: 150g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
3 medium eggs
160g self raising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 vanilla pod
200g fresh blueberries
For the icing: 100g unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
milk to taste
zest of 1 lemon
1. Turn the oven to 180 degrees, gas mark 4.
Line a cupcake/muffin tin with cases.
2. Using an electric mixer (or a wooden spoon and some elbow grease) mix together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition until smooth.
4. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture slowly and gently until smooth.
5. Fold in the milk, seeds from half the vanilla pod, and 150g of the fresh blueberries. Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for around 20 minutes until golden and the tops spring back when touched.
6. To make the icing, beat the butter and sugar together fast for at least 5 minutes, until very light in colour (almost white) and fluffy. Add the zest of one lemon and a dash of milk to loosen if required.
7. Once the cupcakes have cooled, top with swirls of buttercream and the remaining fresh blueberries.
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