August 22, 2011

Flower Cupcakes

About a year ago some friends and I went on a Cupcakes & Cocktails course and learnt the basics but I never have put it into practice. With the kickoff of series 2 of the Great British Bakeoff (GBBO) I have been itching to start doing new things (new for me anyway). I have been looking to learn how to use different piping techniques You Tube is great! So when my other half asked for some cupcakes (as usual) and for one to take to his colleague for her birthday I thought now is the time. As this is my first blog post I must highlight that for baking I do use recipes from throughout the web and my books and only tweak  where I feel that I can alter the recipe. I hope to start experimenting with my own flavours and techniques to share with everyone one day - but there are so many wonderful ideas out there that it is not really a point!

Using a recipe from S2E1 of GBBO I set off to make  Jo's Chocolate and Orange cupcakes decorated as sunflowers and flowers using my homemade piping bag. (another Choc Orange recipe here which has a bit more orange kick to it)
Using you tube to figure out some basics I set to work.

For the Ladybirds
While the cupcakes were baking & buttercream resting I started on the ladybirds (see Tip)

Take a chocolate covered chocolate
(orange taste yummy, red look prettier)

Add a line

Add some eyes and antennae if you can

Add some dots - they will be pointy

 after you are done them all,
take a cocoa dusted spoon
(very little cocoa or the
dots will look powdered)
 lightly press down the dots

And then you have some pretty bugs!
For the Flowers
Colour 3 different bowls of buttercream: green(small amount), yellow(large amount) and orange (small amount) and leaving some of the non coloured as well - you will see why later (see Tip)

As I decided to decorate these cupcakes on a Sunday, my local cake shop wasn't open so I had to make due with a plastic sandwich bag. Reinforcing one of the corners of the bag with sticky tape first, then cutting a small V point out of the end (will get pix soon).

Fill the bag with the yellow icing and top it with a bit of the orange. This will allow for a two toned petal!

Ice a cupcake with the green buttercream (you don't need much) then in the centre place an Oreo cookie. (it takes up most of the space hence not a lot of green is required)

Take your yellow/orange buttercream and start to make the petals. (do a few practice petals first) Then once you have the hang of it -

Start  at the base of the cookie and with the point of the tip upwards, make a small line (1.5cm) and at the end lift up so that the leaf turns up. Work you way around the cookie and then start layering. Throughout turn the piping bag so that the orange and yellow alternate (they might just blend like mine did depending on how you layered the icings in the piping bag) - it's art! :)

Two or three layers/rows is all you will need - you want to leave space to see the inside of the sunflower. Once you are happy with your result that is it! Top with some glitter and a ladybird and you are done!

Flavouring - it may be easier to use orange blossom water to flavour the buttercream as the zest kept plugging up my piping

Icing Consistency -  if you can I highly recommend using gel colouring as liquid colours make the icing runny as you can see by some of my sunflowers. Test your icing by piping a line and pulling up - if it drops down quickly it is too runny, if it drops down a bit it is still not thick enough - it should Stay Put!) add some more icing sugar until you are happy that it will keep shape. I also added some of the non coloured icing to my running colours which seemed to work as well.

Piping the ladybird - if you are not used to piping, practice on a plate or on a piece of waxed paper first. Hold the tube just above the surface and slowly work your way dragging it down to form a line. When finished lightly touch the surface to end the line. For dots - squeeze a little bit on tube and press down. When you release it will form a point (press down lightly after it has been left to dry for a minute or two - use cocoa powder and a spoon or your finger to do this - if using cocoa or icing sugar be careful not to use too much or it will leave an unwanted colour on your icing. Practice this bit too!

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