Sunday, 9 August 2009

Vanilla Fairy Cakes with Caramel

I am not a major fan of the cupcake trend. They are definitely cute, and sometimes very tasty, but too often they are just over iced, dry and a feeble excuse for cake.

Having said that, I do bake cupcakes regularly. My urge to bake is far greater than my urge to eat, so I'll often hand out bits of cakes to friends, family, and my (gradually expanding) flatmates. In the past, if I've baked a traditional cake, instead of just eating a slice, one flatmate (who was permanently on a diet) would just shave smaller and smaller pieces off it, until all that was left was a misshapen, dried out crust. By making individual cakes, most people take one, and greedy people take two. Everyone is happy, and there's no grief over who cut the cake in to such a weird shape that it is no longer slice-able.

Vanilla Cupcakes with a weird vintage effect...

So, in my efforts to vanquish the cupcake, stand up for British food, and yet remain with the sharing friendly pre-portioned sizes, I went for fairy cakes. (This was not at all to do with the sudden realisation that I'd forgotten to buy muffin cases.)

Even though it's not updated much, Cupcake Bakeshop is still one of the best sites I've found for cake recipes. The flavours are also much more adventurous than you'd normally find. On this occasion though, I went for the 3 Vanilla recipe. The main changes are as follows:
  • 1 whole vanilla pod in the batter, as I bulk bought some and have a jar of 50 pods in my cupboard. I'm pretty free and easy with them.
  • As my cakes were much smaller, I got 24 cakes out of this easily, and there is still some batter in the fridge, probably enough for another 5 or 6.
  • I didn't have any cream cheese, so I just made a simple buttercream with icing sugar, vanilla essence (home-made with vodka and brandy... yum), butter and a splash of milk.
  • Before icing the cakes, I cut out the centre, and filled it with the caramel left over from the biscuits I made at graduation. As it was packed with sugar, it was still fine to eat, but needed a little warming up to get it to a spoonable consistency.
  • As they were fairy cakes, there wasn't much room for filling, so the caramel soaked in to the cake a bit, making it extra moist and yummy.
  • I used home-made vanilla salt to garnish, which isn't as brown as the Malden version.
Vanilla Cupcakes with Caramel

These are pretty damn good, although I found them a little starchy. I think I probably overmixed the flour. I am not really a fan of the Dry-Wet method of cake mixing, but a lot of American cakes seem to use it. I also should have put a bit of vanilla salt on the caramel filling, and mixed some in with the icing, as the salt-kick wasn't as strong as I wanted. T declared them his favourite cake ever, and wants them for his birthday next month. I already have a cunning plan for then, but I should be able to incorporate these in to it...

P.S - I can't tell if I'm rubbish at iPhoto or if Blogger is doing strange things to my photos. Maybe both.


Advah said...

I just wanted to say how much I love your blog - I found the link on Tartelette (yes, I was procrastinating doing work..) and I can't believe there's another food/foodieblog-obsessed person in Edinburgh! I love reading your reviews, must try that bread place at the Quartermile! (I'm always on the look for good bread, and I'm not satisfied with the Stockbridge delis anymore..)

Jenny said...

Hi Adeline! Nice to meet another Edinburgher foodie! Definitely give Peter's Yard a try, and you might also like Falko in Bruntsfield if you haven't been there already.

Do you have any Stockbridge recommendations? I'm moving to Comely Bank next month but don't know the area very well.

Advah said...

I'll have to try Falko as well; such a shame these two are in the Old Town, while when I was living there I was a broke student who couldn't afford bakery bread!

Well as you probably know already, first of all there's the Comely Bank Waitrose. In the main Stockbridge street (Raeburn Pl), The Store is an organic/farm produce shop that has really good herb baguettes, yoghurts and jams. I also really like Herbie - try their homemade hummus! As for Peckham and Mellis (cheesemonger on Kerr St), they're really nice but just the same as their Old Town stores. It's also good to know the greengrocer right by the post office on Raeburn Pl sometimes has unusual mushrooms or vegetables that can be difficult to find in other shops.

If you want to eat out, Maxi's, Hector's and Hamilton's apparently have good food. The Stockbridge Tap has recently been refurbished (I think it now belongs to the people who own Black Bo's on the Royal Mile) and my friend described their chips as 'the best in Edinburgh'; I still have to try them though. The Blue Parrot on St Stephen St also does pretty decent Mexican food, although the quality isn't always consistant.
Oh, and of course try the Patisserie Florentin on NW Circus Place, and the sticky toffee pudding at the Bailie on St Stephen St (the best one I've ever had)!

Finally, the Alba D'Oro on Henderson Row is supposed to be one of the best chippies in town, and the Cafe Angel and especially Circle Cafe on Brandon St are good places to crash on a rainy afternoon.

Sorry I got a bit carried away, but I hope these will help when you move on this side of town!

Nicisme said...

Oh your cakes are gorgeous, anything with caramel is a winner!
Lovely blog - will enjoy looking around!

Jenny said...

Thanks for all the Stockbridge based suggestions, I can't wait to explore!

Nicisme - Glad you like it so far!

Chele said...

Yum - these look great!!! Going to have to add them to my baking list!!!!

Kelley said...

These look delicious - I can't wait to try them!