Monday 4 August 2014

Velvet Cupcakes & Mini Layer Cake

What do you call a red velvet cake minus the colouring? I'm going with nude velvet; I'll probably get a lot of inappropriate traffic with those search terms... I don't like adding colouring when I bake, so when my daughter requested red velvet cupcakes, nude is what she got, oh dear.

Every Monday, after school and before netball training, Milly hangs out at a friend's house, close to school.  When I remember I send snacks, on a good week I bake. The last few months have been a bit fraught, and this week, for the first time in what seems like a while, I baked for fun. I also broke 2 of my "style over substance" baking rules; I made cupcakes so tall they were difficult to eat, and I left the stems and leaves on strawberries. I knew they'd taste good and I wanted pretty over easy to eat. I'm sure normal baking habits will resume at some point, in the meantime I'm going with it.

One cupcake tray was all I could find, so I baked the left over batter in a mini 6 inch cake pan.  I didn't have enough frosting for my mini cake, I made more, chocolate ganache too. Now I have left over frosting and ganache, I'm in a 'baking to use up leftovers' spiral, I see no end, just lots of cake and dirty dishes. The cupcakes and mini cake were really pretty and a huge hit; the cupcakes are my pick, they were lighter, more moist, and had a higher frosting to cake ratio :)

Nude Velvet Cupcakes

325g plain flour, cake flour if you can find it
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
330g caster sugar
375ml canola oil
2 large eggs
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
250ml (1 cup) buttermilk
2 tsps white vinegar
1 1/2 tsps bicarb soda
1 large punnet strawberries

mascarpone frosting, recipe below

 preheat your oven to 175ÂșC and line 2 12 hole muffin trays with paper cupcake cases, I always use dark or foil cases, I think they look better when baked. If you want to make 12 cupcakes and a mini cake, also grease a 6 inch round cake tin and line the base with baking paper
 over a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt, set aside
using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or hand held mixer, mix together the oil and sugar until combined, then add the eggs one at a time, make sure your first egg is completed incorporated before you add the next • scrape in the vanilla seeds and mix to combine • the batter looks really weird at this point, but stick with it!
 with the mixer on low, tip in 1/3 of the flour/cocoa comb and mix until just combined • add 1/2 buttermilk, mix until combined • repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk, finishing with the last 1/3 of the flour/cocoa
 in a cup or small bowl, mix the bicarb soda and vinegar together, it will foam up, tip into the cake batter and mix until combined
 divide the batter equally between your cupcake cases, I use an ice-cream scoop with a release for this, it helps me to keep the cakes the same size. If you are making 12 cupcakes and a mini cake, fill your cupcake cases first, then tip the remaining mixture into your 6 inch tin.
 bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes, the 6 inch cake will take 30-35 minutes, check it after 30 minutes • to  check for doneness (is that even a word???) gently poke the centre of your cake with a skewer or piece of uncooked spaghetti, the skewer will come out clean when the cake is cooked
cool your cakes on a wire cooling rack, when completely cold they are ready to frost

to frost the cupcakes

fit a piping bag with a star shaped tip, fill the bag 2/3 full with mascarpone frosting 
 starting at the centre, pipe a large swirl of frosting on top of a cupcake; there are lots of excellent frosting tutorials and videos online, there are basic instructions on the Wilton site here.
 top each cake with a strawberry half (feel free to chop the tops off, or go the pretty route and leave them on)

to assemble the mini cake

when the cake is completely cold, use a serrated knife to cut the cake into 2 layers • if the top layer is very domed, cut the top off, cooks treat!
you'll need 2 piping bags, both fitted with plain tips, fill one 2/3 full with the mascarpone frosting, the other with the chocolate ganache
put the base layer of the cake on your serving plate, starting at the outside of the cake, pipe alternate blobs (for want of a better word, please suggest better words in the comment section below!) of the frosting and ganache, work your way in, and repeat until the cake is covered
carefully place the second layer on top, again starting at the outside of the cake, cover the top with piped blobs of frosting, then pile the strawberries on top

mascarpone frosting

250g cream cheese, at room temperature
250g mascarpone, at room temperature
150ml thickened cream, at room temperature
160g icing sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract

in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and mascarpone together until combined, add the icing sugar, mix slowly at first, then increase speed and mix until light and fluffy
add the vanilla seeds and cream, on medium speed, mix until combined

chocolate ganache

175g chocolate, milk or dark
150ml thickened cream

chop the chocolate into small pieces and put in a heat proof bowl • heat cream in a small pan until just simmering, allow to simmer for a minute then pour over the chocolate • do not stir at this point, do NOT stir, leave for 5 minutes 
 stir cream and chocolate together until smooth and glossy, leave until cold and firm enough to frost


Deb said...

I'm definitely going to try these! You have written it up so well that I couldn't possibly mess them up. Can they be stored and eaten the next day - or should they be served the same day?

simmer and boyle said...

Thanks Deb! They are best on the first or second day, but we found one in the fridge on day four and it was great! Store in an airtight container in the fridge, just let them come to room temperature before eating :)

gfs said...

I do love a good red velvet but agree about the food colouring. Will try doing nude next time. Deliciousness I'm sure!