Where has this week gone? I was supposed to write this post on Monday, but the days have just slipped away! I’m on ‘half term’ at the moment, which is British for ‘a whole week off from work in the middle of the school term’, and I’m not complaining one bit. Half term coincided with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which for all you non-Commonwealth folk is the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. You could hardly walk out your front door here in England without seeing Union Jack flags, bunting, and blue, white and red balloons waving in the breeze. The Husband and I were invited to a Jubilee barbeque/party on Sunday afternoon, and I thought I’d get in on the Jubilee action and make some Union Jack-inspired treats myself.
I was in an enormous hurry while I was baking these, mainly because *cough*I-forgot-to-buy-eggs-and-had-to-run-back-to-the-supermarket-halfway-through*cough*, so by the time I was back I was majorly running out of time to get everything done. I ended up using store-bought pastry (come on, you’ve done it too) and a tin of ready-made caramel filling for the cupcakes, because I didn’t have time to deal with making the caramel and waiting for it to cool down. Nevertheless, we got there in the end!
I decided on Banoffee cupcakes because I figured I should do something quintessentially British, and I was relatively sure that people would have eaten their way through enough Victoria sponge cakes already. Banoffee pie was supposedly created in East Sussex (which is actually where The Husband and I currently live), so it fit the bill perfectly! It’s a gorgeous mix of banana and toffee, and I was really excited to put it into cupcake form. Plus, I’d bought this ridiculously adorable cupcake decorating set the previous week, which I was desperate to use:
First up, let’s look at the Jubilee Tart. I saw this on the cover of a magazine at my local supermarket and I couldn’t resist! The recipe is ridiculously quick and easy (especially if you use ready-made pastry) and the tart itself is light, fresh and fruity. Yum!
1 sheet shortcrust pastry
375g mascarpone cheese
225g low fat creme fraiche (or sour cream, if you can’t find creme fraiche)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 – 3 tablespoons icing sugar
400g strawberries, hulled
1. Place the sheet of shortcrust pastry, lightly pricked all over with a fork, on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 5) for 15 – 18 minutes, until cooked and light, golden brown in colour.
2. Remove the pastry from the oven and allow to cool.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together the mascarpone and the creme fraiche until smooth and combined. Add the vanilla extract and the icing sugar (start with 2 tablespoons and taste it before adding a third!) and whisk to combine.
4. Dollop heaped spoonfuls of the mascarpone mixture onto the cooled pastry and spread it out with a spatula, leaving a 1 – 2 cm gap around the edge.
5. Arrange the berries into the shape of a Union Jack: use the strawberries for the centre cross, raspberries for the smaller arms and blueberries for the blue background.
And now for the Banoffee! The banana cupcake recipe is a slight variation on the one from the lovely Marian Keyes’ Saved by Cake, and the cream cheese frosting recipe is my usual one.
125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 – 5 ripe bananas, mashed
1 x 397g tin of ready-made caramel/dulce de leche
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (325 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3) and line a muffin/cupcake tray with 12 cupcake papers.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and the caster sugar together until they’re fluffy and light in colour.
3. Add the beaten eggs and mix well to combine.
4. Add the mashed bananas to the mixture and mix gently.
5. Add the sifted flour and fold into the mixture.
6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes (the banana seems to make the cakes take a bit longer to cook!), checking after 15 minutes and removing when the cupcakes are lightly golden in colour and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
7. Once the cupcakes are cooked and having completely cooled, you need to hollow them out to fill them with caramel.
8. Take a sharp paring knife and cut a cone-shaped circle out of the middle of each of your cupcakes.
9. Place a dollop of caramel into the hole.
10. Replace the top of the cupcake so that it acts like a lid to hold the caramel in.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
125g butter, softened
225g cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups icing sugar
1. Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed for 3 – 4 minutes, until light, fluffy and combined.
2. Add the vanilla and half of the sifted icing sugar and beat for 2 – 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
3. Add the remaining sifted icing sugar and beat again for 2 – 3 minutes.
4. Place the frosting into a piping bag and attach a large, open star tip. Pipe swirls of frosting onto your cupcakes and decorate however you like. I added some red, white and blue sprinkles and used the cupcake toppers from my decorating kit.