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I don't need to eat any more cupcakes right now, thank you. I've had quite enough this evening and I didn't even have a whole one. Our group of ten people, sharing a table, plates, and knives at Iron Cupcake, split something like 25 cupcakes ten-ways each. We didn't even sample the whole range of cupcakes in competition. There were - I forget - 32? 42? kinds of cupcakes competing for the best Christmas-themed cupcake prize. A lot of cupcakes.

The crowds were eager. double0hilly and I arrived in time to photograph the cupcake-covered bar and the cupcake-covered table and secure seats with my inspiration for going in the first place, hungry_pixel. At 7 pm, a bell rang, and the ravening hordes fell upon the serried ranks of cupcakes. I was more than happy to have half-a-dozen people who were not me fend for our collective cupcakey goodness. How often do buffets come with such cooperative table service, after all?

And so we began, small nibble after small nibble. Some cupcakes were a real challenge to cup: they fell apart into crumbs or resisted gentle slicing. Some had treacherous depths of cutting complexity, whether a dense ball of chocolate or a hidden cherry. One particularly lovely one had a hotly-contested cute little penguin on top of it. There were cupcakes shaped like snowballs, trees, decorated with snowflakes, topped with gritty crushed candy canes, or swirled in green and red.

Taste-wise, they were a very mixed bag. A few were positively foul, astonishingly bad. Most were somewhere between middle-of-the-road and downright boring. There were too many bone-dry fruit cake-themed ones and I overdosed on stollen cupcakes, much as the concept is appealing. A minority were good - clear, soft pervasive flavors with some degree of complexity. My favorite of the evening was modeled into a pine tree, topped with a golden sugar star. Inside was good chocolate cake, eclipsed by the robust ball of dark chocolate within which, when smashed, leaked liquor all over the rest of its cake.

Frosty's demise

The real thrill of the evening, however, was that hungry_pixel came second place in the overall competition. Her "Ode to Panettone" was one of the real standouts, the lovely, smooth chestnut cream dominating the delicate notes of candied citrus. Best of all, it's her first ribbon, the first prize that she has won herself - as opposed to the dozens - hundreds? - decorating her walls already, all brought home by her cats.

hungry_pixel's award-winning cupcake in the foreground

Afterward, all cupcaked out, double0hilly and I renewed ourselves with salad, wonderful, fresh, green salad, and meat, a refreshing antidote to a surfeit of cupcake.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 7th, 2009 11:49 pm (UTC)
Your poor little owl is in a sugar coma!
Dec. 7th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
...would it be wicked to ask for the recipe a) for the Stollen cupcakes and b) for the Ode to Panettone? I am feeling that a bit of baking is long overdue in this neck of the woods, and the idea of doing Christmas cupcakes feels inspired...
Dec. 7th, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC)
Yes, awesome idea! I suspect they may be veganisable :-)
Dec. 8th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
I don't know the people who provided the stollen cupcakes, although I can keep an eye out for Iron Cupcake entry write-ups in the near future, in case of them are included. The Ode to Panettone we stand more of a chance at - hungry_pixel?

Edited at 2009-12-08 12:01 am (UTC)
Dec. 8th, 2009 12:11 am (UTC)
I have just looked up Delia's Stollen recipe, and will be having a go at that at some point...

(Yay Delia!)
Dec. 8th, 2009 09:11 am (UTC)
Thank you for coming; we fell upon burgers on the way home. It's odd how when you eat far too much food in the form of sugar, you end up craving savouries.

The recipe is embarassingly easy although a bit time consuming! They were technically panettone-inspired cupcakes (I tried real panettone in a practice run and they came out as scones, so just used the flavours) with a mulled orange curd filling, topped with orange & chestnut cream frosting.

Orange curd (this makes filling for 40 cupcakes; it's great on toast too!):
Finely grated rind and juice of one large orange and 1 lemon
125g(41/2 oz) sugar
50g (2oz) butter
2 large egg yolks beaten
2 teaspoons mixed spice (optional; I added this because I wanted the "mulled" flavour!)

1. Place all the ingredients in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
2. Heat gently,stirring, for about 20 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Don't turn the heat up too high or you'll scramble the eggs!
3. Cool - keeps in the fridge for up to a month

The cakes (NB - there's a bit you need to do the day before!)
To make 18-20 cakes:
150g butter at room temperature
150g dark brown sugar
150g self-raising flour, plus a little extra
1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp orange essence (lemon would do)
Grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 small tub of mixed peel
Some (I do it by eye!) sultanas

1. Take the sultanas, peel and rind and soak them in a little liquid the night before. I used Amaretto; you could use anything really, alcoholic or not. Orange juice would work fine.

2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and floofsome

4. Add the flour, eggs, baking powder and essences. Beat it all up.

5. Strain the fruit and coat it in flour (this stops it sinking!). Beat it in.

6. Put into 18-ish cupcake cases. Bake for 25 mins then cool.

The frosting - this makes far too much for 18 cakes but I haven't done the recipe enough to work out how much to scale it down by! You don't have to use the exact amounts either...

1 can of sweetened chestnut puree (I made my own but really, I was just being anal, you can buy the stuff)
1 tub (250g-ish) mascarpone
1 tub (300ml-ish) double cream, whipped
2 tbsp icing sugar, or to taste - I used a little less as I wanted minimal sweetness in the frosting
Decorations for the top - e.g. grated chocolate. I made a glittery snowflake with spiced chocolate, but again that's because it was for a competition and I was being anal!

Process together the mascarpone and the chestnut purée (make sure you have no lumps as these will stick when you pipe it later!). Place in a large bowl and fold in the lightly whipped cream.

Assembling the cakes
1. Cut a hole in the top of each cake. Fill with curd
2. Pipe on the frosting
3. Decorate the top.

There are pictures on my LJ of curding and so on.

Dec. 8th, 2009 01:41 pm (UTC)
This is not at all simple by my standards, but I am definitely going to have a go at them for this year!

A question - this issue of putting things into cupcake cases. Can you possibly explain further how this works? I have never quite understood it. There seem to be all sorts of tins and things, and to be perfectly honest I get confused. (*puts on novice baker hat*)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )