Season of mists and mellow cupcakeness

I, for one, love Autumn. Cosy jumpers, thick woolly socks, irrationally high boots, huge swishy coats, CAPES, for god’s sake! Capes!! Ahem…but non-sartorially speaking, it’s also lovely foodwise. And this week, I feel we’re finally there. The air has gained that crisp feeling, that hits you at the back of your throat and takes your breath away, and is just cold enough to make your eyes hurt. So, while I sat down in my strawberry print apron and rearranged my rollers, I pondered…what cupcake could I possibly make that would celebrate the autumnal equinox fast approaching us? And of course, it goes without saying, I wanted to avoid anything with spiders, little graves fashioned out of royal icing, or any other such (trick or) treats.

Then, it hit me. A blackberry cupcake. I recently did a rather gorgeous raspberry cake and was delighted with the little pockets of juicy explosion that took one by surprise – almost like a mirage spied while navigating the cakey desert planes. Too fanciful? Go and read one of the other blogs out there, not written by an English and Drama graduate.

I had my base. But what to top it? A cream frosting? No….apples done in a tarte tartin style, with a salted caramel glaze. I’ve been looking for an excuse to shoehorn this, my current favourite flavour, into a cake, and here, it had just landed in my lap. (Metaphorically. Please don’t go around hurling cupcakes at your knees.) By the by, I used half this quantity for my cakes, and came out with 10. It’s up to you, but I’ve put the full measures in, so it’s all in your hands. Just think of the power…

Blackberry cupcake ingredients (in cups)
2 ½ cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 ½ cups caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsps blackberry juice (I’ll explain all later)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chopped blackberries (unless small…then leave them be)
1/2 cup milk

1.Preheat oven to 170C, and line two cupcake pans of with 24 cupcake cases total (You may, or may not, use all of these. Ooh, how wonderfully vague)

2. In a bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder and whisk together.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until it holds together, and starts looking lighter in colour.

4. Add eggs one at a time to the sugar mixture, whisking after each addition.

5. Add vanilla and blackberry juice…what happened with this, is, I had frozen blackberries. So, I just steeped them in hot water, and used that hot water as my ‘blackberry juice’. Simples? Simples.

6. Get your milk and your dry flour mixture at the ready. Ready? Alternately add them, whisking on a low speed.
7. Gently, veeeeeeery gently, fold the blackberries into the mixture. Try not to bash them too much, poor babies.
8. Oh, go on then. Fill your cases. I’d say probably just over two thirds full – you want them to rise, as there’s no frosting to disguise any TERRIBLE MISTAKES YOU MIGHT MAKE.

Caramelised apples:
65g unsalted butter*, cut into small piees
4 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into 16 (cut each quarter into four equal pieces, lengthways)
4 tbsps caster sugar
*I actually used salted. I’m a huge fan of salted caramel in chocolates and whatnot, so I thought…why not? But as ever, you may do as you please.

1.Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the pieces of apple, and turn to cook them on both sides. When they begin to look golden, start singing a la Mika “we are goooolden, we are GOOOOLDEN’, and sprinkle with the sugar, then remove the pan from the heat.
2. Arrange them on top of the cupcakes, four apple sections per cupcake, laid out like a courtesan’s fan. (You have to be poetic about these things.)

Caramel glaze
65g unsalted butter
50g soft light brown sugar
225g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
1.Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan over a low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until it melts.
2. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the icing sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Beat together until smooth and well mixed, then drizzle around a tablespoon of the glaze over each cupcake.
Apologies for the atrocious picture below. I am not technically minded enough to crop.

Happy baking my darlings!

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