Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Hummingbird Bakery - Ginger Cupcakes

I received The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook as a surprise present recently, and promised to bake something from it as soon as possible.

A discussion on the BBC Food Messageboards about problems with the vanilla cupcake recipe from the book prompted me to try the recipe for ginger cupcakes. The recipe itself is about as far as you can get from the traditional British 'fairy cake' recipe of equal quantities by weight of eggs, SR flour, caster sugar and butter (counting an egg as 50g) - there is a very small proportion of butter, more sugar than flour and about half the amount of egg, the rest of the wet ingredients being made up with milk. The recipe also uses plain flour and baking powder - giving a little more raising agent than if using SR flour. The method is different too - the soft butter is worked into the flour, sugar and baking powder until evenly distributed, then the wet ingredients are beaten in.

The recipe for ginger cupcakes is similar to the vanilla recipe - adding 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice and some finely chopped stem ginger (I used 7 large nuggets). After baking the cupcakes are drizzled with a little of the stem ginger syrup.

I found the recipe easy to follow but ended up with quite a liquid batter. This made me concerned that the pieces of stem ginger added would sink to the bottom. The recipe was supposed to make 12 cupcakes in 'large American sized cases'. I used muffin cases and only made 8 cupcakes, although I may have overfilled the cases slightly. The cakes rose fairly well in the oven and didn't sink on cooling, which was the problem the BBC poster had had. I don't think the rise was as great as if the same amount of Victoria Sandwich batter had been in the cases, and it was definitely a more gentle rise, with the cupcakes staying quite flat on top.

The flavour and texture of the cupcakes was very good, but, as I expected, the pieces of stem ginger sank, and stuck to the paper case as the cupcakes cooled. This made it almost impossible to get the cupcakes out of the paper cases without the cake splitting in half, especially with the soft frosting making them difficult to handle.

The frosting was the best part of the recipe - using less butter than a traditional buttercream and beating in some milk for lightness. The result was both less sweet and less cloying than buttercream, which isn't one of my favourite frostings. The frosting for the ginger cupcakes has added lemon zest and the milk was infused with fresh ginger overnight (although I couldn't taste this).


Debs said...

Mmmmmmm, sound delicious and look oh so pretty.

Suelle said...

They are pretty, aren't they? I don't usually make cakes which need fiddly decorations.

They tasted good, but were really spoiled by the stem ginger pieces sinking - I don't think I'll be making them again!

Hilary said...

They certainly look good. I trekked all the way to Portobello Road on a Saturday a few weeks back and fought my way through the market so I could finally try Hummingbird Bakery. Then I got there and the queue was so long (way out the door) that I turned around and went straight back home! I really should have stuck it out, but I hate waiting for food!

C said...

I made the vanilla cupcakes a few months ago and although I barely remember doing it, my post shows I was quite happy with the way they turned out. I added blueberries, but did find, as you did, that they all sank to the bottom of the cupcakes, but blueberries aren't sticky like ginger so it wasn't that much of a problem. The mixture was quite liquid - much more so than standard victoria sponge proportion mix, and they didn't rise as much. But actually, a flat top wasn't that much of a problem given the buttercream decoration! I do remember loving the way they were soft and sticky on top though. Yum! But wouldn't life be boring if we all liked the same thing!!

Can't believe the Daily Mail link suggests they make 12-18. I thought 12 was pushing it!


Suelle said...

C - I was happy with everything except the sinking ginger! I'd washed off the sugar syrup before chopping and the pieces were tiny, so it was a real shame that they sank.

For flavours with no heavy additions to sink, I think it's a pretty good recipe - as you say, the flat tops make it easier when frosting, the frosting itself is really great and for me, the fact that it uses so little fat (relatively speaking) is an added bonus.

Foodycat said...

They look lovely! I haven't really taken to the cupcake thing, but I do like to admire them.

Suelle said...

Hi Foodycat - as I said earlier, I don't usually go in for anything as fiddly as cupcakes. More work for less product isn't my idea of kitchen time well spent. This was probably a one-off occasion!

Anonymous said...

Hi. Looks delicious - I recently got this book too, and having read both good and bad reviews, was intrigued to try out one of the cupcake recipes, since the proportions of ingredients and method both seemed a little odd. Made the lemon cupcakes (but with lime), and likewise found, while delicious, they didn't rise amazingly (although having said that, they would be good for glace icing with their flat tops) and that, following the method and using muffin cases, only made 9, not 12. Glad I'm not alone!

Suelle said...

asplashof - it's reassuring to know that they've turned out exactly the same for someone else! At least we know there's nothing wrong with the recipe or our baking skills.