Photo by Holly Bell
I worked with a girl once who literally stopped traffic. Now people overuse the word literally. They literally use it all the time to describe things that literally didn't happen. However, this actually did.
One day, in the trendy East End of London, as I walked across the road with this girl, traffic stopped for her. She didn't even notice. I scuttled behind her, trotting in silly heels as she strode purposefully across a busy road as cars ground to a halt. She'd be hateable if it weren't for the fact this friend of mine is a real girl's girl. Both funny and clever too. She recently went off the market (AKA got hitched) so East End girls can breathe a sigh of relief whilst East End boys weep.
Anyway, the thing about this girl is that it's all smoke and mirrors. It's not that she isn't a stunner (that sounded a bit red top, but she really is very beautiful), or that she's not slim or stylish. Tick, tick, tick. The thing is looking that way usually takes a lot of organisation and time. But this girl was deeply disorganised on the grooming front. I sat next to her at work, I should know.
Under her desk were old tights, abandoned before changing for a night out. There was a gym towel streaked with fake tan. There were many pairs of scuffed, seen better days heels. There was a pair of hair straighteners and a well used brush. There was a make up bag covered in the remnants of eyeshadows past. And to top it all off, teetering next to the piles of files balanced precariously next to her keyboard, was a fruit bowl with little tiny fruit flies buzzing around it. Oh and a half eaten bowl of porridge, congealed. Yep, this gorgeous creature was a closet slattern. Makes you love her even more.
Which brings me to this recipe. It's a slattern's recipe. I didn't have anything new to show you as I've been a bit busy what with The Book (that's my book for those of you who have been away for the last 6 weeks and haven't heard me bang on about it) and The Baby, who is now 9 weeks old. These cupcakes are something I made for the school fayre. They sold out pretty fast, I'm sure due to their white chocolate dribbleness. The other cakes I made did not sell out fast. It was very stressful watching them sit, lonely and ignored. I won't be making anything other than these for the school fayre, ever again.
Lots more recipes like this in my book, Recipes from a Normal Mum, out now... on Amazon, with The Book People, at Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Waitrose (where it's book of the month), The Book Depository and many smaller outlets.
150g soft butter or margarine
150g castor sugar
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk
3 large eggs at room temperature
50g icing sugar
200g soft, salted butter
400g icing sugar
2tbsp vanilla extract (yes, TWO TABLESPOONS)
90g blueberry jam
70g white chocolate
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. For the cupcakes, cream the butter/margarine in a bowl until light and fluffy. (Use the flat beater if using your stand mixer.) Add the castor sugar, flour, baking powder, milk, eggs and the zest of the lemon, then mix for about 4 minutes until well combined.
Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. When the cakes are baking make the drizzle by heating 50g icing sugar with the juice of the lemon in a pan on a medium heat until the sugar crystals dissolve. Remove from the heat, poke lots of holes in the cupcakes with a skewer and carefully pour the lemon syrup over the cupcakes. (You can use a brush to add the drizzle if you prefer). Leave to cool completely.
In the meantime make the buttercream:
In a stand mixer, use the flat beater to cream the butter until soft and light - about 4 minutes. Then add the icing sugar spoon by spoon, mixing on a low speed until all incorporated, then add the vanilla extract. Beat on high for 7 minutes until the buttercream looks like mousse - flecked with air bubbles.
NB: This buttercream can be made using a handheld mixer or a wooden spoon, but it will take a LOT longer. I can't tell you how long as it completely depends on how hard you beat the mixture and how much you move the mixer about. Look for a mixture similar in texture to mousse with flecks of air running through it. I find it very hard to achieve the same lightness without a stand mixer though - I would employ the strongest person in the house to have a go!
Pop the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M nozzle. Once you're ready to pipe, add a teaspoon of blueberry jam to the centre of one cupcake, then pipe a Mr Whippy swirl around the outside of the cupcake, graduating into the centre to cover the jam. Finish the top of the icing off with 3 blueberries pressed into the peak. Repeat, one at a time until you've iced all the cupcakes. If piping is something you find hard take a look at THIS video for my top tips. (And can I just say that I am sure I don't speak like this... really sure. Do I? Oh I hope not).
Lastly, melt the white chocolate (be very careful doing this as white chocolate burns easily. Either melt in short bursts in the microwave or over a bain marie) and place in a piping bag. Once the white chocolate has cooled to body temperature, snip a tiny corner of the piping bag off and drizzle the cupcakes in a zig zag fashion. This can be quite messy so either do it over newspaper or be prepared to lick, sorry, scrub the table clean.
More recipes from Holly Bell on her blog Recipes from a Normal Mum