Sunday 22 May 2011

Sunday Baking: Coffee Walnut Cupcakes

One of my good school friends has a particular liking for coffee-walnut cake and so I decided to oblige him this week, as I had an idea and wanted to see if it would work.

For the base I used this recipe for chocolate cake, but with extra flour instead of cocoa and with only 1 tsp bicarb - I think I have used too much in the past because the flavour hasn't been as good. I made superstrong coffee to add to the batter. I also added a tsp of coffee grounds and a cup of walnut pieces.

For the icing, I wanted to use Camp coffee but they didn't have any in the supermarket so I decided to have a stab at making my own coffee-vanilla syrup. I boiled some strong filter coffee with some sugar, a big spoonful of coffee grounds and half a vanilla pod, split open and scraped, and when it had reduced by about two-thirds I strained it through a piece of muslin and added some more sugar.

Then I mixed 350g Mascarpone with enough icing sugar to make it sweet, and 4-5 dessert spoons of syrup. The icing turned out great, but the cakes could have been a bit more coffee-esque. We'll see how they go down tomorrow.

This recipe made and iced 18 cupcakes.

I also tried another strawberry cake today, because last week's went down so well at school that I was receiving compliments all week, and in fact the two-thirds that I left unattended in the staffroom after lunch had all gone by the end of the day - teachers are gannets! This time I used British strawberries which are finally in the green grocers. The difference is incredible: much stronger flavour and much pinker cake to begin with, so I needed just a drop of food colouring to make it really pink.

I changed the way I did the syrup this week too, since last week it only soaked into the bottom. I mixed the leftover strawb puree with some water and sugar and then when I took the cake out of the oven I sliced off the overflow, skewered the now-flat surface of the cake a few times and then poured the syrup over the hot cake while it was still in the tin, and left it to cool. I followed the principle taught me by my friend's Bosnian mother who taught me to make baklava and made me promise I would only use cold syrup on hot cake, or vice versa.

Then I realised - I never brought my cake boxes home from work last week. This is going to be interesting.

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