For my birthday earlier in the year, Leigh paid for me to go to a half-day cupcake making and decorating course. It was today and it was great! Run by the lovely Strawberry Cupcakes.
There was about 15 of us, and we started the day by making the cupcake mix and then these were baked for us while we had a play with sugar paste and making fancies for the tops of the cakes. Now, while I can manage colouring sugar paste and cutting out shapes, when it comes to sugar roses I am completely inept. I understand the theory perfectly, but it's all a bit delicate for my sausage fingers! So I'll stick to the butterfly stamper.
Once the cupcakes were ready, we made butter icing and then piped onto the top of the cakes, finally decorating them with the flowers and butterflies we made earlier.
It was really good and I picked up a few tips. Now I usually make my cakes with butter, but we used margarine today and to be honest I haven't been able to tell the difference taste-wise. It might be noticable if I tasted a butter one and a margarine one side by side. We also added a flavour to the cupcake mix - about a tablespoon of one of the syrups you use to flavour coffee! I didn't realise you could use those in baking, but they came out really well.
Also the tops of the baked cupcakes were lovely and flat - I can never manage this at home! The course leader said she thinks it's because she cooks the cakes for longer at a lower temperature - 150C for a fan oven, and 25 minutes baking. I'm going to try it for my next batch.
I was hoping to get a good reliable recipe for a frosting too as mine never seems to quite come out right. Again, we used margarine rather than butter, but otherwise the recipe was the same as I use at home. It must just be a practise thing - getting used to when the mixture looks right for piping. The piping was fun though - and I must remember to use bigger nozzles because the piping looks much better, and the disposable icing bags were very handy!
We were also talking about interesting flavour combinations for cupcakes and I've a few ideas to try out now...