Last Sunday I found myself back on familiar turf, tucked behind a laden table of cakes, lovingly created, baked and decorated by yours truly.
I was so excited when I was asked to be involved in this new farmers’ market although to be honest I wasn’t sure if I was ready just yet. I am still totally in baby zone, looking after Cole full time, and like all babies he is a demanding little lovebug. I have accepted the sleep deprived and overly emotional new me but had no idea if it would withstand actual work with proper deadlines and everything.
I have very lucky then that my family rallied round and encouraged me to do something for myself. Luke plus grandparents took on baby caring responsibilities and I sequestered myself away in the kitchen for two days straight, engulfed by billowing clouds of icing sugar and emerged victorious on Sunday morning one hour before the market opened with 12 cakes ready to present to the good people of Tottenham.
I am so proud of every cake on my stall which are all my own recipes, often inspired by other cakes I may have eaten or read about but always tweaked by me to suit my tastes and the flavours I am interested in. I always just hope that my customers like them too and for the most part they do. I am still a little huffy from a five year old customer’s feedback on my Lemon Nutella Cake last year that it wasn’t nutterllery enough for him but I suppose you can’t please everyone. Although there was like a whole jar in there – what more did he want from me??
I made these Vanilla Malt Sundae Cupcakes for the stall on Sunday and they were inspired by this gorgeous looking Banana Split Sundae Cake from Culinary Concotions By Peabody. I couldn’t resist those gorgeous retro colours and knew it would be perfect in a cupcake I have been playing with – a mash up of two of my most favourite things ever – vanilla malt shakes and ice cream sundaes.
The sponge is my basic vanilla cupcake recipe but with a huge helping of Horlicks whisked into the flour to add that delicious malted flavour. The buttercream is swiss meringue so light, smooth and velvety and is treated to a lovely helping of Horlicks too which just makes the whole affair out of this world. I was shoveling the buttercream into my mouth with a spoon and I can usually show some restraint with buttercream. Not this time.
The cupcakes are finally decorated with rainbow sprinkles. I mix mine myself as it’s really hard to find decent pre-mixed sprinkles in the UK. I buy all the different coloured jimmies separately then just shake them up in a jar to get the right rainbow variety. Then you need the trashiest chocolate sauce you can find – this is not a time for homemade using actual chocolate, you need the kind in a squeezy bottle to drizzle directly onto the cupcake. I believe mine was made with carob for that perfectly fake chocolate flavour. Then finally garnish your garish beauty with a luminous red glace cherry. Again, homemade versions are not allowed – far too sophisticated.
It wasn’t surprising that the kids at the market were immediately drawn to the brightly coloured cupcakes but the flavours also appeal to adults – well they are definitely right up my street and they also went down well with my very important cake testers – Luke’s work colleagues and the mums at my baby group.
I aim to mix up the cakes I take to the stall every time to keep it interesting for both me and my customers so I can’t guarantee these retro babies will be at Tottenham Green Market whenever I am but what I do know is that they will definitely be making a return in the future.
Vanilla Malt Sundae Cupcakes
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
230g caster sugar
2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
230g plain flour
3 tablespoons malt powder (e.g. Horlicks)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
160ml whole milk
- Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
- Beat together the sugar and butter until pale, light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating on a low speed, then add the vanilla extract.
- Sift the flour, malt powder, baking powder and salt together.
- Add the flour into the cake batter alternately with the milk, adding the flour in three additions and the milk in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed and mix until just combined.
- Pour into cupcake cases and bake for 18-20 minutes.
Malted Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 egg whites (120g)
200g caster sugar
240g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 tablespoon malt powder (e.g. Horlicks)
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
- Heat egg whites and caster sugar in a bain marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 71°C.
- Remove the egg whites and sugar from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.
- Whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
- Change the attachment to a paddle attachment. On a low speed add the butter slowly cube by cube. When you have almost added all the butter the mixture will look curdled. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen and just means you are nearly done. Just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the frosting will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
- Add the malt powder, vanilla extract and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined. Then pipe onto your cupcakes.
- Finally decorate with sprinkles, chocolate sauce from a bottle and redder than red glace cherries.