Never enough cake

Given that my last post was about cupcakes, it seemed appropriate to follow up with a cupcake recipe. These aren’t quite Sparkle but they’re more than close enough. And they get brownie (!) points for being home made!

One of the things I love about food blogs is the way that great recipes and cookbooks get passed on and shared. But sometimes it means that you see the same recipe (see, eg, this tomato sauce) and the same food writers again and again. So sometimes, it’s really great to see something different. Some of you are probably staring at your computer screens in puzzlement right now because how could a cupcake recipe (and a plain old vanilla cupcake recipe at that) be considered in any way novel? Well, that’s totally true! But the source of the recipe is something a little bit different, so stay with me …

Earlier this year I went to New Zealand with my family and along the way we noticed a cookbook here and there called Ladies, A Plate – Traditional Home Baking by Alexa Johnson (available here). After fretting over whether I really needed another cookbook in my collection, my sister solved my dilemma and bought it for me. And I’m so glad she did!

Ladies, A Plate is utterly charming. It’s has the feel of a Country Women’s Association cookbook (imagine your favourite great aunt stepping into the kitchen with you and talking you through her favourite recipes) but with 21st century design. The book covers traditional NZ baking, going far beyond pavlova and ANZAC biscuits. Recipes include old-fashioned favourites such as health biscuits, Mrs Mackie’s moist and spicy fruit loaf, neenish tarts and, most importantly, cupcakes. Trendy these recipes are not, but they are understated, full of history and love and totally delicious.

Cupcakes (adapted from Ladies, A Plate by Alexa Johnson)

These cakes are the perfect vanilla butter cake in cupcake form. They’re moist without being heavy, fluffy and light but not spongey. The original recipe stated that you would get 24 cakes. I used slightly taller patty cases (but the kind that fit into a standard muffin tin) and got 11. If you use smaller patty cases, start checking for done-ness at 15 minutes.

For the cake:

115 g butter, softened

3/4 c caster sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 c plain flour

1 tsp baking power

1/2 c milk (I had some cream sitting around so I used half cream and half milk)

1 tsp vanilla essence

For the butter cream icing: 

1 c icing sugar mixture

50 g butter, softened

1 tbsp milk

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

food colouring, if desired

1. Preheat the oven to 350’F/180’C and put patty cases into a 12 hole muffin tin.

2. Cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture will appear curdled at first but keep going – the batter will come together.

4. Add the flour and baking powder to the batter in three lots, alternating with the milk. Sift the flour as you add it. Add the vanilla essence and beat until just combined.

5. Spoon the batter into the patty cases, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool.

6. While the cakes are cooling make the icing. Combine the sifted icing sugar mixture, butter, milk and vanilla in a bowl and beat until smooth. Add food colouring if desired and then smooth over the cakes in a thick layer. Enjoy!!

Notes:

  • I made this recipe by hand but I imagine it would work just find with a stand or hand mixer. Just be careful not to over mix it.

P.s. I promise the next recipe will be something savory. Xo

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