I was in London last week. Workin’ from the Gherkin. And if it wasn’t already the unexpectedly beautiful weather that put me straight into happy spring mode, at the latest it was the cupcakes course we attended on Saturday at the Peggy Porschen Cake Academy (yes, such things exist).
Peggy Porschen is a famous and award-winning cake designer based in Belgravia, London. She creates the most beautiful edible works of art. Seriously, look at those beauties:
Well, in our course we didn’t go as far as baking a three tier wedding cake, but the result of our efforts was pretty amazing, too.
First of all, we had to bake the cupcakes. Ours was Peggy’s Vanilla Chiffon cupcakes with a lemon buttercream, but next time I would probably go for something a bit more adventurous, like Peggy’s Strawberry and Champagne cupcakes. It does sound awesome, doesn’t it? Here’s the link to the recipe. Whatever recipe you choose, though, make sure that you follow those valuable tips we received:
- All ingredients should be room temperature. Not just the butter, but also the eggs and the butter. This ensures that everything will incorporate smoothly.
- Only use high quality ingredients, e.g. use real vanilla beans, not imitation vanilla flavouring, take farmers’ market eggs, butter instead of margarine. It’s going to make the difference between a good and a great cupcake.
- Be patient! Usually, I just dump all ingredients together in a bowl, mix it for a couple of minutes, and that’s it. At the course, however, we learned that we should add the ingredients bit by bit, mixing between each addition. For instance, we first beat the eggs in a separate bowl and slowly added about one egg at a time to the sugar and butter mixture. Only after everything was evenly mixed, did we add the next egg. Also, we mixed the butter, sugar and eggs for what felt like hours. But careful: this is not the case for the flour! Add it rather at the very end, gently combine with the other ingredients at low speed and don’t overwork the batter! Follow this tip, and I guarantee, your cupcakes will come out nice and fluffy.
- Fill the cupcake cases with the help of a plastic piping bag. Only pipe them about 2/3 full around the edge and leave a little dip in the middle. This will make sure the cupcakes rise flat top and even – perfect for decorating. Check it out:
- Once baked, soak the top of the cakes with syrup. Note: hot syrup on cold cakes – cold syrup on hot cakes.
Now my absolute favourite part of the course was the decorating of the cupcakes, especially when they showed us how to make sugar rose buds. At Peggy Porschen, they use half flower paste and half sugar paste, both in white, and colour it themselves, according to their linking. Make sure that you invest in high quality stuff here as well, i.e. use food colour paste rather than the liquid one from the supermarket. Bakeria for example sells a really good one. Here’s the link. When your paste is made, always make sure you to keep it in a plastic bag to prevent it from drying out.
To make one rosebud, you will need three hazelnut-sized ball shapes in dark pink and one oval piece in medium pink for the rose centre. Place all the shapes inside a plastic pocket which you rub first with a thin layer of vegetable fat. Then lightly flatten all pieces with the help of a kitchen board. Now rub your thumb over each piece in a circular motion and continue flattening them out, making sure one side of each petal is thinner with a sharp edge.
Remove the oval piece from the plastic folder and curl it up with the thin edge at the top, then lay a petal over the open side of the spiral. It should sit around 1mm higher than the top edge of the centre. Tuck the next petal in from the right, and close the bud with the last one. Gently pinch the bottom. Curl back the outer petal edges and pinch the tips.
And those were mine:
Not bad, eh? We made bigger ones as well, which need two petals around the oval, then another round of three, and at the end an arrangement of five petals. Beautiful, aren’t they?
Then we made little violets. Not too difficult, really, as you can use a cookie cutter for it.
Cute, aren’t they? And here’s the final result:
A fantastic and unusual day in London. Think about it next time you’re over there!