1st birthday party cupcakes

1st birthday party cupcakes

  • Recipe(s): Tea-party cupcakes (page 378)
  • Prep: Moderate
  • Taste: Good

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear…..

On October 4, 2014 our good friends’ daughter had her first birthday, which was a good chance for us to complete yet another from our challenge. After thinking long and hard about which recipe to make we settled on the tea-party cupcakes and the rest is history, sweet, doughy history.

The prep for these little guys is definitely moderate. Not only do you have to make a basic sponge dough, you also have to make two different icings and prepare the fruit that is used as a topping. We also had to make our own self rising flour because we were unable to locate the pre-mixed version at any store we went to. This was a problem throughout the challenge. We never did find a store that sold self rising flour.

Making the basic sponge dough is just that, basic, as is making the chocolate icing. The fruit icing, on the other hand, is a little more involved because you have to mash up the fresh berries and then pass them through a sieve to extract the seeds (you don’t want them sticking in people’s teeth). Are you starting to see now why the prep was moderate for this recipe?

Now, those of you who have made cupcakes before know the prep isn’t finished until the cupcakes are iced and placed neatly on a serving tray. Before this happens you have to make sure you don’t burn them, overcook them, over ice them, under ice them, squish them, etc. etc….I think you get the picture.

So, how did they turn out?

The dough itself felt like it may have been overcooked slightly. They were a touch firmer and a little bit dryer than you would expect from a cupcake. We don’t know if this is because we overcooked them, that our homemade self rising flour didn’t work as it was intended or the fact that we left them out to cool overnight with just a tea-towel covering them. I wouldn’t say they were bad but they could have been better.

The chocolate icing was nice and, well, chocolaty. How could it not be with cocoa powder and sugar mixed together?

The fruit icing was a bit of a letdown. It wasn’t nearly as good as we thought it was going to be when we read the ingredients/instructions. Essentially you are taking a bunch of fresh berries (we used blackberries, strawberries and raspberries) and mixing them with sugar. Not only are you getting the natural sugar of the berries but you are also getting added sweetness from the refined sugar, yet for some reason it didn’t work. We did end up having to add a bit more fruit than the recipe called for in order to loosen the icing a touch but you wouldn’t think this would be enough to affect the icing that much.

In the end, they were all consumed at the birthday party so we can’t say they were that bad. As there is quite a bit of prep involved, and neither of us really eat cupcakes on a regular basis, we would probably not try this recipe again.

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Pavlova Party

  • Recipe(s): Coconut, banana and passion fruit pavlova (page 397)
  • Prep: Easy
  • Taste: Good

Back on May 24, 2014 my partner was heading to a dinner party at a friend’s house. Her contribution to the party was a homemade pavlova. I had nothing to do with this dish as I was out of town, so below I have attempted to tell her story from what she’d told me/annotated in the cook book…

Pavlova is a classic dessert that’s light and fluffy and this recipe was just that. The differences here were the toppings/fruit that were required and the layering. The dish is started by making your basic meringue, which is easy and super delicious. You bake two separate rounds of meringue (top and bottom layer), then you make whipped cream and add a layer to the first meringue round with the addition of a layer of bananas and passion fruit seeds. I feel like you don’t normally see pavlova with passion fruit seeds or banana, so this was a bit different. Anyway, then the second round of meringue goes on top and to finish off, coconut shavings are sprinkled on top.  The fresh coconut shavings proved to be the most difficult part – my partner was by herself when she was making this and wasn’t able to get the fresh coconut opened. I’m told she watched several You Tube videos and tried imitating them but couldn’t get it to work. She even went out to buy a second coconut to try, but her efforts were in vain as she never was able to crack it. So in the end, she made a third trip to the store and bought dried shavings. This has been a reoccurring theme this year with this challenge – having to make multiple trips to the grocery store when we realize either we’ve forgotten something, bought the wrong item or screwed up and have to start again…I guess that’s why we’re calling it our ‘2014 challenge’.

This was a good dish but I’m not sure we’d make it with the coconut, banana and passion fruit seeds again (mainly because my partner doesn’t like coconut and neither of us are huge on passion fruit). I think we’d go for different fruit, like berries. Overall this is an easy recipe to make. The two layers of meringue made it stand out a bit from other pavlovas but in the end, I’m not sure it really enhanced the dessert. Also, a single layer (i.e. meringue on bottom and fruit on top) makes for a more colourful presentation. Regardless, it was good and we’d definitely try making it again but just with different toppings.