Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cranberry & Almond Cupcakes

I don't know about you, but I get to a point on a Saturday chained the computer writing a statistics assignment when I just have to bake cupcakes. No? Maybe it's just me then.

Baking always seems to lift my spirits up and refreshes me ready for another evening filled with proof-reading. And cupcakes are the mother of all baked spirit lifters.

Those that know me will be aware that I have a bit of a compulsion with lists. You give me a list, or a book than can be interpreted as a list, and I will aim to complete every item on that list even if it involves a lifestyle choice for several decades.

One of those is the Australian Women's Weekly Bake, described as "the definitive book on baking". Well Women's Weekly, I accept your challenge of 600 pages of Australia's best baking recipes and I've got a little gold star to stick on each and every recipe I get through. Why? Because I can.

This gold star went on their Very Berry Cupcake recipe which was a simple butter cake with dried berries and almonds included. Despite the AWW informing me that "dried berries, especially strawberries, are easy to find in any supermarket", my local Woolies was bereft of any dried berry other than cranberry. I did swing by the fresh fruit section with the hopes of replacing my dried berries with fresh blueberries - but at $9 per 100g punnet I returned to the baking aisle and sulkily collected my cranberries.

This turned out to be the first-worldest of problems as my cakes tasted delicious... but would have been better with fresh blueberries.

Very (cran)Berry Cupcakes

Courtesy of the Australian Women's Weekly


125g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup dried cranberries (replace with whatever berries you like)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2/3 cup plain flour
1/3 cup self raising flour
1/4 (60ml) milk

Cream Cheese Icing

30g butter, softened
80g cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar

Beat your butter, vanilla extract, sugar and eggs in a small bowl until light and fluffy (butter tip - if it's not soft enough you can grate it so it will beat easier).

Stir in dried berries, almonds, then sifted flours and  milk. Divide your mix across 12 cupcake cases and smooth the surface.

Bake for 35 minutes in a preheated 140'c oven. Turn out on a wire rack to cool.

To make the icing, beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy then gradually beat in sifted icing sugar.

I coloured my icing as I'm trying to learn better decorating techniques. My cake baking usually consists of getting the cakes out of the oven and enjoying them as soon as possible. But I want to become a better cake decorator. With these cakes I was going for a magenta icing to match the cranberries, but ended up with more of a lavender as my blue went a little crazy. But hey, it's all a learning curve :)

What I would do differently next time

I would use fresh blueberries next time and hold the almonds (mainly because I don't really like nuts, so I'm not sure why I put them in in the first place)

I'd also put a teaspoon or so of baking soda in just to get some more rise. These cakes are a little denser than I like my butter cakes.

Enjoy your baking everyone.

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