The Diamond Jubilee celebrations kick off this weekend and Union Jacks are literally bedecked across every available surface, lamp-post, flag pole, strip of bunting, cake tin, apron, cupcake case etc etc.
There also seems to be much ‘googling’ for jubilee cupcake ideas. The stats pages on this website alone is testament to this. However, if you are anything like me then the fact that some sort of festive treat will be needed is only just appearing on the radar of ‘things to do’ and of course all the Union Jack cupcake cases and assorted jubilee themed cake toppers are sold out.
How is all that going to work out then!
Do not despair, I have some suggestions requiring cake ingredients for sure, but only of the general type which means there is a solution to the problem.
- First off choose a basic vanilla cupcake recipe and then replace the butter with Stork Margarine. It keeps the cupcakes fresher for longer and, in my view, makes lighter, fluffier cakes.
- If you have the time try to order on-line or go to Lakeland Limited or a specialist cake shop and buy red and blue cupcake cases and some regular white ones from the supermarket. If short on time just buy the white ones.
- Supermarkets are selling red and blue ready to roll icing (sugarpaste). Get a packet of each colour and some white as well (always available). We are going to make our own toppers, don’t worry it won’t take long.
- Alternatively, you might still find you can get red, white and blue Hundreds and Thousands. If you can find some then get some and a box of Quality Street Matchmakers (any flavour) or chocolate scrolls (expensive and usually come in large quantities).
- Make sure you have some cocoa powder, butter and icing sugar in the house alongside the cupcake ingredients.
Right then, having assembled all or some of that lot, we can proceed.
Making cake toppers:
- You need to allow some drying time so try to make these the day before the cakes.
- If you have kids you probably have a small rolling-pin somewhere. Go and root around or ask around, if not, as this will make life easier. Also have a search around for a flat knife or palette knife, again just to make things easier. Roll out a golf-ball sized piece of sugarpaste into a strip onto an icing sugar sprinkled surface, and then trim to form a rectangle. Check this strip is not stuck to the work surface by sliding the palette knife under it to loosen it if necessary. Cut a couple of 1-1.5 cm wide strips and then cut square shapes from the strips:
- Repeat this for the other colours to ensure you have the full complement of red, white and blue squares which can be rotated to provide diamond shapes.
- Repeat again, this time cutting out triangles as in the second image to give bunting.
- Keep going until you have plenty, you can try different sizes.
- If you have number cutters you could make ’60’ instead out of red,white and blue!
- Before they dry out completely, lightly squeeze the sizes of all the shapes to smooth and give you a more pointed diamond shape or more form to your bunting as shown here:
- Leave to dry overnight on some greaseproof paper on a tray or plate.
- Wrap any unused paste in cling film and then in pop in an airtight tub, it will keep until the Olympics at least, or donate to the next ‘too late off the mark cupcake maker’.
Making up the Cupcakes:
Make the vanilla cupcakes according to your recipe whatever that might be. I usually use the Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcake recipe (make sure the egg is a large one), but each to their own.
Right I am going to give a recipe here for a chocolate icing to coat the vanilla cupcakes. Chocolate is the tried and tested favourite as a topping for cakes however chocolate buttercream is usually too pale and sickly for my liking and chocolate ganache has cream in it which is no good for a warm afternoon. This is a chocolate fudge icing and is fantastic. It won’t go off at all. It also allows all the colours to contrast against it.
You will need, to coat 12 cupcakes: 100g Icing Sugar, 35g Cocoa Powder, 55g Butter, 65g Caster Sugar, 40ml (2 tbsp and 2 tsp) water.
Sift together the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. In a non-stick saucepan add the caster sugar, water and butter and heat gently until the butter is melted and sugar dissolved. Stir to combine and then pour into the dry ingredients and mix well to give a thick, rich glossy mixture. A balloon whisk works well here to combine. Unfortunately, you will need to wait for the icing to thicken up at this point, whisking from time to time with the balloon whisk, until it reaches a spreading consistency, this is a variable feast but you really do need to be able to spread like buttercream not pour and hope for the best like Glace icing. It is likely to take 30-40 mins.
So once that consistency is achieved, spread on the icing and decorate as illustrated with the diamonds. Or roll out by hand very thin sausages of white sugarpaste as shown to wind over the cakes and hang the triangles of bunting from. Cover 5 or so cakes and then decorate before covering the next batch of 5. The icing, be it this one or buttercream, has a tendency to dry out and your decorations won’t stick properly. Nestle the shapes into the icing.
Plan B is the Hundreds and Thousands and the Matchmatchers which can be arranged as shown or if you have multi-coloured cases, just go chocolate all the way!
How much red, white and blue do we really need.
N.B. Trex (white vegetable fat) can be used to lubricate the work surface and rolling-pin instead of icing sugar when rolling out sugarpaste to achieve a perfect finish on the cake toppers. See the Baking and What not page for a little more detail.