We’re Sorry You’re Leaving Cupcakes

One of my friends at work left last week. She’d not worked with us for very long, but we’d had such a lot of fun since we started sharing an office that I’m going to miss her! I have no doubt that her leaving was definitely not goodbye, she’ll only be working a couple of tube stops away and us booze-hounds have got to stick together. She has the most incredible sweet-tooth and eats sweet things like I’ve never seen sweet things eaten before (there was a frightening instance with two chocolate bars and 30 seconds that I think will haunt me for a long while to come!), so it seemed appropriate to bake something to celebrate/commiserate her leaving.

As I mentioned before, I received a ludicrous number of cook books for Christmas and the one that’s really caught my eye is the Lily Vanilli cookbook. I love Lily’s bakery off Columbia Road & the cookbook doesn’t disappoint. It’s a beautiful book, with a great balance of basic recipes and tips and really unusual twists and flavour combinations. I thought I’d start with the first recipe in the book, a vanilla sponge, but to make it easier to transport into work I made them as cupcakes. I topped them with chocolate buttercream and honeycomb. I am totally obsessed with honeycomb at the moment. I’ve made it repeatedly over Christmas and it’s ace, (which reminds me there’s still some in the cupboard, I might need a mid blog post snack…).

Vanilla Cupcakes 01

This was a bizarre sponge recipe. First you mix the dry ingredients with the butter until it’s like a crumble mix and then you add eggs, vanilla extract & milk. I’ve never made a cake recipe using this method before, so I was intrigued to see the outcome. The result was a thick but light sponge, which one of my colleagues described as ‘like a muffin, but not as heavy’, which I think summed it up quite well. I would definitely use this method again.

Vanilla Cupcakes 02

Vanilla Cupcakes 03

Now I should get something straight: I am not a cupcake baker. I like cake. I am also not about pretty decorative cakes with lots of icing and pretty coloured sponge. I am about big flavour. So as someone who bakes as much as I do, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this is the first time I’ve ever piped icing onto cupcakes. What can I say, I’m normally more of a palette knife kind of girl! That’s probably a lie too. I’d probably usually just use a teaspoon or a fork.  And not only are they piped but they have decoration! The shards of honeycomb look awesome spiked into the top of the cupcakes!

Vanilla Cupcakes 04

Vanilla Cupcakes 05

Vanilla Cupcakes 06

Then. The next morning. I opened the tin and much to my horror and confusion, the honeycomb had disappeared. Gone. Disintegrated into a puddle of syrup on the cupcake! The leftover honeycomb was fine (I’m still eating it now), but all of the cake honeycomb had gone. Every piece. Luckily my friend Google is never far away, but even he wasn’t yielding many answers. Eventually I cobbled together an answer. Honeycomb disintegrates when exposed to moisture. This will happen if left out in the air, but stuck in a cake, it sucks up the moisture like no tomorrow and eventually melts. Lesson learned: honeycomb cake decoration must be added just before serving. Not the day before!

Vanilla Cupcakes 07

I love a stack of tins after a productive evening’s baking!

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