Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited to my lovely friend Carolyn’s hen party. Carolyn, incidentally, introduced us to the concept of Cake Pops a year or so ago, and is now required to make them for every New Year’s Eve, or there might be riots. So incredibly good.
Anyway. Carolyn and her bridesmaid Kim had decided that while the boys were spending their Stag weekend hunting, shooting and fishing (or something. I don’t know. I wasn’t invited) we’d do something far more refined.
Can you imagine quite how excited I was when I heard that? Especially when I arrived at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Rooms in Chester on Saturday afternoon. I might have gushed quite a lot. It’s just so gorgeous! All pale blue painted chairs and Alice in Wonderland memorabilia. Go look at their pretty, pretty website. No, really. Drool over the menus a while. I’ll wait.
So, after the most incredible afternoon tea spread, eaten in a private room while all wearing different hats, we were expertly taught how to decorate our cupcakes. We made fondant roses, learned to pipe icing, several different ways, and how to add a stripe of colour to it. We even got to make fondant hippos!
Here are my efforts:
Since I’d travelled up to Wales on the train for the event, my cakes didn’t make it down south again – two were used as a bribe for a lift home after the dinner that night, one went to my Grandma’s incurably sweet tooth, and I think my brother had the last.
But that’s okay, because the girls at Mad Hatter’s weren’t just incredibly generous with their talent and their cakes, they also gave me their cupcake recipe and said I could share it with you! A warning, though – these are the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted. Make them once, and people will be asking for them over and over again forever more.
And next time you’re in Chester? Stop by Mad Hatter’s Tea Rooms. You really won’t regret it.
Mad Hatters’ Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
- 115g butter or good quality margarine
- 115g granulated sugar
- 115g self-raising flour
- 2 free range eggs
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 3 tbsp milk
For the buttercream
- 110g butter or good quality margarine
- 500g icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 20ml milk
- Line muffin tins with cases, set the oven to 180°C
- Cream the butter in the mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat on a high setting until pale, creamy and fluffy
- Whilst the butter and sugar is creaming, put the baking powder into a separate clean bowl and weigh the self-raising flour into the same bowl
- Crack the eggs one by one into the butter and sugar mixture, beating well between eggs
- Add the milk and continue to mix well. If the mixture starts to look split, don’t worry, add a small amount of flour
- Add the vanilla paste
- Add the flour to the mixture. Mix until the flour has been incorporated but do not over beat
- Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake in the over until firm to the touch, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean
To make the buttercream:
- Cream the butter in the mixer until smooth
- Add a third of the icing sugar and mix well. The mixture should become pale, light and fluffy
- Add the vanilla paste
- Add another third of the icing sugar and beat well again
- Add the rest of the icing sugar
- Iff the mixture is too stiff add a teaspoon of milk and beat well. Continue with this method until the buttercream is creamy, fluffy and easy to work with
- If the mixture is too runny, add a tablespoon at a time of icing sugar