Birthday Cupcakes for Dave and Steve

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Until recently I wasn’t a baker. I had, of course, completed some fairly disastrous cooking projects at school, and had tried (in vain) to create masterpieces for work charity bake sales, but my attempts were few and far between. Something changed a couple of months ago though, around the time I made a conscious decision to add as many handmade elements to our wedding as I can.  Armed with the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book I received as a gift this past Christmas, I started to really pay attention to the baking process and to make a concerted effort. This new outlook seems to have paid dividends, as I’m receiving compliments on the taste and texture of the cupcakes from pretty much everyone who has tasted them, including requests for the recipes!

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There are recipes for other delights than just cupcakes in the book, but for now I’m keeping myself challenged by trying to produce consistently good cakes, and as can be seen from the pictures, I need a great deal of practice before I can consider myself an accomplished cupcake decorator! The cupcake recipes are all variations of the same basic recipe, which I now know pretty much by heart, and feel confident making. So far I’ve made the vanilla, cola, rose and chocolate cupcakes – the cola and rose ones being my personal favourites. Both sponge and icing are flavoured; I use Neilsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste, Cola Syrup, Nielsen-Massey Rose Water, and Cocoa Powder (I found all of these in the home baking aisle at Sainsburys). I really like that the recipes create cupcakes with substantial, yet not overpowering flavours. The only modification I made was to make the cola icing blue (for some reason, I always think of cola as a blue flavour?!), using some Dr Oetker food dye.

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Now that I’ve had some practice, and I’ve been getting positive feedback, I’m finding it hard to resist the temptation to make cupcakes for every occasion. This was the case last weekend when we went to a friend’s birthday barbecue. I made a mix of cola and chocolate varieties and boxed 12 up in a rather professional-looking cake box (£3 for a box that will hold 12 cakes, Sainsburys). I had gone to town with the glitter, and found that my new found finesse with mixing and baking has not yet transferred to my decorating abilities. However, once in the box, and adorned with some cute little celebration tags (£1 for 50, Sainsburys), they looked good enough to eat.

I even made two into individual gifts for the two birthday boys simply by adding Happy Birthday tags (from the same pack as before), and boxing them individually.

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In the end, I enjoyed both making them, and showing up to the party with boxes of tasty treats 😀

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