Thursday, 2 February 2012

My first giant cupcake

I was really excited when Find Me A Gift asked if I would like to review one of their cupcake gifts - I've been hoping I'd get an opportunity to try out doing a product review at some point and when I saw that a giant cupcake mould was one of the possibilties, I was in! I've been wanting to try a giant cupcake for a while now especially since after seeing all of the beautiful ones on the Nom! blog so it was great to have an excuse to try it.

I was a little disappointed in the packaging, if I'm honest it does look a bit cheap (which it is I guess, £9.99 but I noticed it's been reduced since Christmas) and I didn't think the picture on the front was particularly appealing. But what matters most it's what's inside, right?! And the silicone moulds themselves seemed good quality, no different in texture and thickness to my silicone loaf tin mould. They come with a filling insert, although I didn't use this, deciding it was better to keep it simple. As far as I can work out you put slightly less mix in the bottom than you normally would, and sit the filling insert on the top to create a 'dip' to put the filling into.

The recipe was the bit I was most worried about. My first attempt didn't go well - I followed the Primrose Bakery's instructions to use one quantity of their victoria sponge recipe, but this wasn't nearly enough. Although they did rise, attempts at a smaller scale giant cupcake were abandoned when it came to turning the cakes out, as most of it stuck to the moulds!

Back to the drawing board, and I figured I'd need about 1.5 quantities of victoria sponge mix. After some internet scouring I came up with a basic recipe. With excessively greased moulds, a bit longer cooking, less time cooling in the tin and a mahooosive dollop of patience and care - the beasts were out in one piece and I was breathing a huge sigh of relief! The patterns from the moulds didn't come out as well on the top part but this didn't bother me too much as I knew I'd be slapping on the buttercream anyway.

Now, what I should have done at this point was level the cakes off - they weren't too domed so I thought I could get away with it, and I was so paranoid of them falling apart I didn't really want to start sawing away at them! Unfortunately this next photo shows why this was a bit of mistake:

To decorate, I whipped up a double batch of Primrose Bakery buttercream and coloured half red (or more realistically, a kind of dirty pink). The base was completely covered in the plain buttercream, and then I placed the top half of the cake on top and slathered the red(ish) buttercream all over. As you can see, I had gone for a seasonal Valentine's theme, so Haribo jelly hearts and Love Hearts were deployed to try to get the effect of a heart patterned case and sprinkles. After this I decided to try to fill the gap between the layers with buttercream, and ended up making a bit of a mess with the buttercream escaping down the sides (it was quite runny buttercream!) - but despite being messy it definitely looked more like a cupcake having the two layers meeting (more flattering camera angles help too!)

Although I was proud to have managed to assemble and decorate it without it (or me) collapsing, I was still a little ashamed of the end result! I felt it looked a bit childish, which I suppose wasn't helped by the slightly cheap looking colour of the buttercream and the uneven cake layers/botched job on the buttercream.

Even though it was a bit disappointing looks-wise, the cake was surprisingly easy to cut and was actually quite nice! The buttercream was a little sweeter than I would usually do it, but because the cake slices were pretty chunky it ended up being balanced OK. I took most of it to work and everyone was surprised by how light it was, having expected a much heavier cake given the size.

My basic giant cupcake recipe:

340g butter, softened plus a bit extra for greasing
340g golden caster sugar
340g self raising flour
6 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Grease the moulds well (I mean seriously well) and place them on a baking tray. Preheat oven to 180c.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy.
3. Sift in the flour, add the eggs and vanilla extract, and beat until smooth.
4. Tip about 2/3 of the mixture into the base mould and the remaining 1/3 into the top mould (the moulds should be about 3/4 full).
5. Bake for 1 hour until risen, golden and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes should come out clean.
6. Cool in the moulds for 10 minutes and then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
7. Sit the cakes on top of each other to check if any levelling is needed!
8. Whip up a batch or two of your favourite buttercream and decorate as desired.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the mould. The one I used is available online here. I know you can get giant cupcake tins aswell, and I do usually prefer tins - my silicone loaf tin gives a bit of 'side bulge' which did occur here, but it's less noticeable because this is iced. Having said that, you have to be so careful getting the giant cupcake out of the mould and the silicone made it easier to jimmy the knife about and get a feel for where bits might be sticking.

I'd definitely recommend giving the giant cupcake a go - it is fiddly and faffy and a bit scary in parts but, I don't think you lose anything on the taste. Even though I'm a bit embarrassed by my decoration, the faults are things that can hopefully be rectified with a bit of practice - plus even if it's not technically perfect you can win back points for novelty value and ginormous slices!
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