Plimmsberry Cupcakes

Originally posted 28/07/2013

I’ve been on a bit of a baking hiatus recently due to the horrendously sweltering weather and so I’ve been indulging my cravings for homemade goodies by whipping up simple no-cook rocky road and cheesecake, but I realised I forgot to post the recipe for these lovely summery and quintessentially British cupcakes I made back when Wimbledon fever was abound here in the UK and I could still switch on the oven without melting.

The Pimms jam filling was an impulse invention of mine that turned out deliciously, but I don’t think I’ll be trying this technique for meringue icing again a hurry. Although it was light and tasty and significantly lower in fat than standard buttercream frosting, it was a bit of a fiddly faff-fest to make, and after being piped onto the cakes it shrunk within a few hours. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you don’t frost the cakes until just before you serve them! I also ended up with an obscene amount left over; the recipe I originally used said it was just enough for 12 cupcakes but I’ve reduced the quantities below to a (hopefully) a more accurate estimate, although obviously it depends how much of the icing you want to top each cake with. I think if I made these cupcakes again I’d perhaps top them with freshly whipped cream instead as it’d be less of a hassle but would go very nicely with the jammy centres.

I have to confess that the redcurrants out of the garden were far too sharp to be edible and were for decorative purposes only but I thought they made a rather spiffy finishing touch skewered on the wee cocktail sticks. Cheers!

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 10-12

For the cakes:

  • 115g/4 oz self-raising flour
  • 115g/4 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 115g/4 oz margarine/butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

For the jammy ‘Plimmsberry’ filling:

  • 6 tsp (approx.) strawberry jam
  • 6 tsp (approx.) plum jam
  • 20 ml (approx.) Pimms

For the icing:

  • 1 or 2 egg whites (depending on how much icing you want to cover the cakes in)
  • 2 or 4 oz/55g or 115g caster/granulated sugar
  • 1/2 or 1 tsp vanilla extract

+ 12 cocktail sticks + 24 redcurrants (optional)

METHOD

For the cakes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a baking tray with 12 paper cases.
  2. Whisk the margarine/butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking powder and vanilla extract until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  4. Drop the mixture into the cake cases using a teaspoon until they’re each about three quarters full.
  5. Pop in the oven and bake at 180 degrees C for about 12-15 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
  6. When baked, place on a wire rack and leave to cool. At this stage the cakes can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.

For the filling & icing:

  1. Roughly mix the two types of jam and the Pimms together in a small bowl.
  2. Using a teaspoon or small sharp knife, carefully cut a small hole (about 2cm deep by 2cm wide) in the top of each cupcake. Don’t discard the bits you’ve cut out!
  3. Drop about a teaspoon of the ‘Plimmsberry’ jam into each hole and then gently push the sponge part that was cut out back into each one.
  4. To create the meringue icing just before serving, separate the whites of 1 or 2 eggs into a heatproof bowl which can sit over the top of a saucepan of hot water without touching the water, and put the yolks to one side (these can be used to make choc mousse or eggy bread or something later!)
  5. Boil the kettle and fill the saucepan with a small volume of water and leave to cool slightly on the hob (don’t turn it on yet!) while beginning to whisk the egg whites on a high speed until they begin to stiffen and form peaks – this should be done for a minimum of 3 minutes.
  6. Switch the hob onto a LOW heat and place the bowl of egg whites onto the saucepan, ensuring that the hot water does not touch the bottom and that the water does not boil, then begin whisking on high speed again while gradually adding the sugar and vanilla extract.
  7. Continue to whisk thoroughly until all the sugar has dissolved – this will take at least 5 minutes or so. If, like me, you don’t own a fancy sugar thermometer, you can test to see if the sugar’s dissolved by pinching a small amount of the mixture between your fingers – if it feels gritty it needs further whisking. At this point the mixture may turn flat and runny but don’t panic, just keep on whisking and it will thicken again.
  8. Once all the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites have formed stiff, glossy peaks, switch the hob off and transfer the meringue into a piping bag with the nozzle of your choice (I used a star attachment) then pipe swirls onto each cake.
  9. Spear two of the redcurrants onto each cocktail stick then insert into the cakes if you wish.

Remember, the icing doesn’t keep well so make sure you scoff right away 🙂

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