Tag Archives: cupcakes

Bad Wife Cupcakes

The funny thing about marriage is that whatever action one spouse decides to take, it has an impact on the life of the other.

For instance, if Mr Harris decides to spend all day Saturday holed up in the living room with a case of Corona and a bag of pretzels watching the last leg of the Six Nations, it kind of affects my plans to spend a romantic afternoon, hand in hand, perusing Borough Market day.  And if I decide to catch up with some girlfriends for dinner at the Covent Garden Hotel one evening after work, that means Mr Harris orders a takeaway Chinese and eats it on the sofa in front of the TV while feeding prawn crackers to the dog has had his day impacted by my actions.

So at 4 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon when my husband excitedly pointed out to me the recipe for Skinny Red Velvet Cupcakes he had found on a foodie blog, I was…well, slightly taken aback by the sudden interest in cupcakes, but happy to go with his plan to stop by Sainsbury’s to buy the ingredients.  Mr Harris – on the rare occasions he does visit the kitchen – never bakes or cooks using what’s in the cupboard.  Any recipe requires a major shopping trip and an entire restock of our pantry WHETHER IT NEEDS IT OR NOT.  At quarter to five when we arrived home, the sudden passion for making cupcakes had somewhat disappeared and the lure of watching a week’s worth of CSI episodes on Sky Plus had become a far more attractive alternative.  It was at this point that I found myself in a kitchen full of mixing bowls and muffins tins, elbow deep in pink batter.

So, I made the cupcakes.  And they turned out fine.

It was at this point that Mr H wandered into the kitchen and interest in the recipe suddenly reignited.  He decided to take over the real man’s work – frosting.  He insisted that I leave ‘his’ kitchen while he prepared the cream cheese frosting.  I felt distinctly nervous about the whole thing for several reasons.  Mainly because Mr H didn’t have much experience eating cream cheese frosting, let alone making it.  The whole thing smelled of disaster.  With a self satisfied look on his face, he proudly produced a bowl of thin, gloopy…not frosting…possibly icing?  It tasted of cream cheese and wasn’t really all that sweet.  Worried he’d predict my lack of faith and duplicitous nature, I waited until he’d gone back to the living room before quickly grabbing what was left of the icing sugar, dumping it in the bowl and rapidly transforming the sweet soup into a slightly thin, but acceptable form of frosting.

I joined my husband in the living room several minutes later.  “See?” he said, with a self-satisfied look on his face.  “I told you it would be fine and YOU didn’t think I could do it.”  I apologised and told him I was wrong.  I told him his frosting was excellent.  And quickly returned to the kitchen to finish decorating the cupcakes before he suspected the truth – that I am a bad wife.

So, I return to my original point.  The funny thing about marriage is that whatever action one spouse decides to take, it has an impact on the life of the other.

Oh, and by the way, by the time I was finished with these cupcakes, they weren’t ‘skinny’ anymore.  Here’s the recipe.  With good cream cheese frosting.

Bad Wife Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 cup moscovado sugar

1 tbsp unsweetened dutch-process cocoa

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp white vinegar

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce or mango puree

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg

2 egg whites

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/3 cup light buttermilk

1 tbsp red food colouring

1.  Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake tins with liners.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together flours, salt, cocoa, and baking powder.

3.  In another large bowl beat sugar, applesauce and butter. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

4.  In a separate bowl mix baking soda and vinegar. Add half of the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, mix well. Add buttermilk, red food colouring and mix well. Add the remaining dry ingredients and fold in vinegar and baking soda.

5.  Pour in prepared cupcake liners 3/4 of the way.

6.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool, then frost with low fat cream cheese frosting.

Good Cream Cheese Frosting

300g Icing Sugar, sifted

50g Unsalted Butter, at room temperature

125g low fat Cream Cheese, cold

1.  Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

2.  Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed.

3.  Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.

Red Velvet Cake

Hummingbird Bakery Red Velvet Cupcake

Hummingbird Bakery Red Velvet Cupcake

In the last week I have made the jump from being 32 to 33.  I’m not certain, but I think that may have taken me from being in my early thirties to my mid thirties.  If I am still exempt from mid thirties, my boyfriend, who today turns 34, certainly isn’t.  But we don’t mind.  Its a week full of birthdays and that means one thing – a visit to the Hummingbird Bakery and an opportunity to eat Red Velvet Cake.  Twice.

Each year on my birthday we go to The Dorchester for a champagne afternoon tea.  Its a delightful tradition.  We always seem to have the same wonderful waiter (Edward, I think, is his name) who at some point brings me out a rich chocolate cake with birthday candles while the pianist plays Happy Birthday to me.  The Lapsang Souchong and cucumber sandwiches are all wonderful, as is the glass of Laurent Perrier at the start of the tea, but the terrible truth of the matter is that I might be just as happy if they plopped down an 8-inch Red Velvet Cake in front of me and handed me a bib & a spork.  I know – I’m a cretin!

Despite my tendencies of spending every spare moment in my kitchen, trying every idea that pops into my head, I have never baked a red velvet cake.  One reason is that I have a distinct fear that if I did, I would very possibly eat the whole cake in one sitting.  The second reason, is that, why bother when Hummingbird Bakery does such a smash up job of making them?  There are many bakeries in London trying to be all American and cupcakey, but none of them do a particularly good red velvet cupcake other than Hummingbird.  And they don’t stop at cupcakes – they make the real deal – the whole cake.  When I turned 30 I ordered one of their 10″ red velvet cakes to take to the birthday dinner party my friend was throwing for me at her home in Highgate.  I’m not certain what my English friends thought of this American atrocity, seemingly composed of sugar, fat and e-numbers, but when I ended up having 2/3 of the cake to take home with me at the end of the evening, I wasn’t disappointed at all in their lack of interest, and I spent the next 2 days eating nothing but slices of cake with cups of coffee.  I’m sure that weekend will have to answer for any future osteoporosis I might develop.

Those who avoid eating wheat & gluten (but also have a deep pocket book I might add) will be pleased to know that Hummingbird do their red velvet cake and cupcakes, as well as their vanilla and chocolate cakes, in a gluten free version.  Expensive at £46 for an 8″ cake, but worth it, so you too can develop a taste for this cult status cake.

*Image obtained from http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/475341/Red-velvet-cupcakes