When it comes to decorating cupcakes throw away the rulebook and try some of our exciting new ideas… crumble-topped cupcakes, zesty lemon cupcakes, or caramel-centred cupcakes… because cupcakes are all about experimentation!
Lop off the top of your cupcake. Put the small piece of cake to one side and pipe in a little lemon buttercream, dulce du leche, plum jam or melted chocolate. You can use anything that might work with the flavour of the cake and icing. Then replace the lid, and cover the top with icing to disguise the cracks. Why not try mocha butter cream with a Chocolate Icing; raspberry jam with a meringue icing; or chocolate spread with banana icing?
Alternatives to Icing
There are plenty of ways to Decorate Your Cakes without icing. Stick on tiny roses, dust with lavender-infused icing sugar or edible gold, or attach a small, frosted pansy flower to each cake.
Frost individual flowers or petals (rose petals look fabulous) by brushing with beaten egg white, dipping in fine caster sugar, and leaving to dry overnight (arrange them on oven trays and put into a cold oven). Or how about sprinkling some infused sugar over the tops of your fresh cupcakes? Seal several stems of washed and dried lavender, a split vanilla pod, and some clean rose petals, in a jar full of caster sugar, and leave for a few days to infuse – the result is a gloriously old-fashioned sugar topping.
Fruit cupcakes are perfectly suited to a crunchy, crumbly topping: make a batch by combining 50g (2oz) blanched almonds and 50g (2oz) oats with 175g (6oz) plain flour, 75g (3oz) butter and 110g (4oz) Demerara sugar. Blitz or mix by hand until sandy and sprinkle generously over your uncooked cupcakes. Bake as normal.
Icing doesn’t have to be sugar mixed with water. Colour it wildly – how about lime green cupcakes? – or make it super-thick, and pipe it through a bag to create a mountain of indulgence. Ever tried a Meringue Topping? Simply whip up a batch of meringue (egg whites whisked with caster sugar), and spoon or pipe it carefully onto the tops of cooked cupcakes. Pop under a preheated grill for a couple of minutes to set the meringue, and enjoy the crispy, marshmallowy topping once cool.
Don’t be shy – create your own icing ideas. The Vicar of Dibley’s outrageous ketchup-cupcake granny may have taken it too far, but some of the best concoctions come from random store-cupboard combinations. Take inspiration from your favourite cocktail (how about a Margarita cupcake?) or ice-cream (rum and raisin butter cream, anyone?). Put together peculiar flavours and see if they work. Add jam to your chocolate ganache, and inject chocolate spread into a batch of cinnamon cupcakes. You’re only limited by your imagination.
Lemon and Lime Cupcakes
Make some simple lemon cupcakes all the more special with a sharp lime icing and glamorous strands of zest scattered over the top. You could vary the fruit used in this recipe – combine lime cakes with lemon icing, or try a sweet orange cake topped with tiny pieces of tangerine.
- 110g (4oz) margarine
- 175g (6oz) caster sugar
- 175g (6oz) self-raising flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 75ml (5tbsp or 3fl oz) milk
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- Cream the margarine with the caster sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Sift in the self-raising flour and baking powder, and fold gently.
- Finally stir in the beaten eggs, milk and lemon zest. Beat to form a thick batter.
- Spoon into paper cake cases, and bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
- For the topping, beat the lime juice with sifted icing sugar until you have a thick, glossy paste.
- Drop spoonfuls over the cakes, sprinkle with the lime zest, and allow to set before serving.