It’s looming up again that half term where, if you’re not off to ‘bend zee knees’, drink hot chocolate and generally do battle on some gorgeous snow-covered slope, then it can be a bit like hard work. This particular break is generally hampered with miserable weather and a certain sense of cabin fever as we have all had enough of winter.
This time however Valentine’s Day features. Child 1 who attends secondary school is deeply grateful for this and would otherwise be dreading the prospect and hoping to contract a 24 hour bug. I remember all that. Overall. a. total. nightmare.
So may I suggest something to do. It’s very obvious really – let’s bake cakes. One of the many wonderful customs we appear to have adopted from the US in the last decade or so is to get all whipped up every time a public holiday/festival/moment presents itself.
I love this for two reasons:
1) I bake cakes for a living so I have these endless hooks and excuses to be baking and milking any creative juices I may possess and,
2) you can get hold of or make themed goodies which kids love (and don’t necessarily cost a fortune) and that gives us all something to do.
I was going to have a little anecdote here and then remembered it features another candy fueled festival so I shall return to that at the appropriate moment.
So back to the Valentine’s Day themed goodies. I thought I might offer a microscopic round-up at this point of what’s available. Based on only a couple of brief browsing episodes I have purchased the following:
and seen additionally, cookie cutters, soft toys, fake scented petals you can scatter around the place, themed underwear and deely boppers (interesting (?!)), and, from my point of view, rather horrifyingly Red Velvet Cupcakes a WHOLE week before the day. I feel a rant coming on. I understand that some need to get in early for a multitude of reasons, but really, a week old cupcake is not going to say I LOVE YOU, it’s going to say I LOVED YOU a week ago or am I that bothered!
So why don’t we have a go at making them ourselves no more than 48 hours ahead of the moment of presentation. At this point, I expect some of you may have spotted the deliberate mistake, we are going to end up with 12 probably and does anyone need that many when ‘music’ is supposed to be the food of love. As a general rule (although it won’t apply here), in my experience if a cupcake recipe has 2 eggs in it you can halve all the ingredients quite happily, bake at the same temperature and cook for the lower end of the cooking time, so if you only want a few, that’s what you do. But these really do taste so fantastic that I wouldn’t worry about that and also they freeze un-iced beautifully.
Again, as I’m not sure of the copyright, I am going to direct you here for a basic recipe, but please print it off and then read it in conjunction with what I have to say next.
This amount of mixture, will probably give about 12 cupcakes but Hummingbird recipes are a little notorious for being a bit vague in this area. It will be 12 at a push and possibly more like 9 or 10. If you come across their vanilla cupcake recipe with only 1 egg, that one will definitely only make about 9, but like with all these things it does depend on the size of cases you are using, I’m assuming standard UK muffin cases.
As to the ingredients: buttermilk is now readily available in supermarkets, although you will have some left over so can be used up in a multitude of muffin recipes (something else that freezes beautifully), the red food colouring, Dr Oetker or Silverspoon are good here. If you don’t use these your cakes may well be brown instead of red, you can use Philadelphia cream cheese for the frosting.
Also I know the method seems a bit weird and wonderful, do go with it. I’m go to say it again, they are so worth it they taste amazing.
Here are some I made for a non Valentine’s Day event, with muffin wrappers, slightly fiddly but a lovely romantic air about them I think. They can be decorated as in the recipe link with a few crumbs of red velvet cake sponge or of course sprinkles can be bought from online stores, specialist cake decorating shops or even Sainsburys.
A good online supplier is The Craft Company and they post out very promptly.
Happy Valentine’s Day! (and good luck with half term).