I'm kicking off Caking It with an ode to St David's Day, which is celebrated on 1st March in Wales.
These moist and tart apple cupcakes are reminiscent of Pwdin Eva (also known as Eves Pudding), a traditional welsh dessert containing cooked apples, topped with a vanilla sponge, and drizzled in custard. My cupcakes are a vanilla sponge, marbled with spiced apples, and topped with a custard buttercream (also known as German buttercream). You don't need to have eaten Pwdin Eva to find these cakes completely delicious!
One mouthful of one of these won't be enough!
If you've never made German Buttercream before then don't be afraid! While it's a bit more complex than regular butter and icing sugar beaten together, it's not so complex that I haven't been able to do it (and therefore anyone can). It is time consuming though, as the trick is not to make the eggs curdle, so everything must be done slowly.
The basic premise is to beat crème patisserie into butter. Making crème pat requires some welly as you need to beat it until its thick enough. The result is slightly less sweet than regular buttercream, but more complex and creamy.
Make sure to subscribe to the Caking It blog to find a detailed step-by-step of how to make crème patisserie, German buttercream and Diplomat Cream, which will be released soon...!
I also recommend using a vanilla pod because not only can you see these beautiful flecks of it throughout the creamy white frosting, but the taste is divine. However, vanilla pods are expensive, so you can leave it out. If you feel you don't want to have a go at German buttercream, then regular buttercream frosting will also be completely delicious!
After making the buttercream, I move on to the cake itself, which is a vanilla sponge, lightly marbled with spiced apples.
I experimented with different sizes of chunks of cooked apples, as well different ways to bake them into the cupcakes, but I ultimately decided that small chunks folded directly into the mixture creates the optimal cupcake. The size of a pea is about right. The addition of the ground almonds helps provide some more structure to hold the apples in the batter.
Finally, I make the caramel, and if you want to make your own super easy and completely delicious caramel, click here!
While these are SUPER easy to make, it does take time to go through each step and assemble, but let me tell you, the pay off is worth it!
Regardless of whether you're Welsh or not, you'll enjoy these deliciously moreish cakes. They have the perfect balance of the sweet and tart apples, the gooey caramel and the ever-so-light and creamy buttercream. They really are a dream, and I am so excited that they get to be the first cupcakes on the Caking It blog.
Happy St David's Day! Let's get Caking It.
180C (170C fan)
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep: 40 mins
(German buttercream takes approx 2 hours)
Bake: 18 mins
Assemble: 10 mins
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
125g gluten free self-raising flour
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
3 tbsp ground almonds
For the apples
100g finely chopped cooking apples (think pea-sized)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
20g light brown sugar
Caramel (click here to get my recipe!)
German Custard Buttercream
1 Vanilla pod (optional)
2 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
40g icing sugar
Method: German Buttercream
This is a simple step-by-step of how to make German buttercream, but you can find a more in-depth recipe on my blog soon, so keep a look out!
Start off by heating 300ml of milk and 1 whole vanilla pod in a saucepan until warm. Take it off the heat, and leave to steep for 30 minutes.
In a bowl, mix the cornstarch and sugar together, then add the eggs and 20ml of milk and beat until smooth.
Once the milk has steeped, take out the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the egg mix. Add vanilla extract. The slowly pour the milk into the egg mix while continually whisking.
Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and heat on low until warm. When it is warm, turn up the heat and vigorously whisk until thick. You will know when it is done when there is resistance against the spoon and it looks more like jelly than a liquid. This requires some welly so have someone else on hand to help.
Strain through a sieve, then cover with clingfilm, making sure it is touching the top of the mixture.
At this point the smell is incredible and you've just made crème pat!
When it is at room temperature you can start creaming the butter with an electric or standing mixer until light and fluffy.
Gradually add in the crème pat, a few spoons at a time. Once all the mixture has been added, beat for 3 minutes.
Sift in the icing sugar and whisk for 4 minutes. Your German Custard Buttercream is ready!
The addition of the ground almonds help to give more structure to the cake with the apples.
First, cook the apples. Place the chopped cooking apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, and brown sugar into a saucepan and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Take off the heat, and let sit with the lid on until you need them.
Preheat oven to 180C. Fill a 12 hole muffin tin with cases.
With a fork, cream the butter until pale, then add the sugar and cream together until fully incorporated.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing with an electric whisk between each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, bicarb, xanthan gum and ground almonds with a fork, and then add this to the mixture, mixing until fully incorporated.
Fold in the room-temperature cooked apples.
Spoon 2 tbsp of the mixture into each muffin case. Don't be tempted to add more or they will overflow. If there is still mixture left, then make more!
Let the mixture sit in the cases for 20 minutes before placing in an oven for 18 minutes. A skewer or toothpick inserted into the cupcakes should come out clean.
Making sure the sponges are completely cool, scoop out the middle of the cupcake with an apple corer, taking care not to go right down to the bottom.
With a teaspoon, fill the middle with about 1 tsp of caramel per cake.
Now you can get creative with piping the custard buttercream, or just spoon on a dollop!
For an extra special addition, you can add caramelised apple slices. In a saucepan, dissolve 100g sugar in 10ml of water, then add the apple slices. Remove from the liquid after 5 minutes and sprinkle with more sugar. Once cooled, place on top of your cakes!