Cupcake Mastery

When did cupcakes suddenly become so fashionable? They used to be fairy sponge cakes with a dollop of icing sugar. If you were good you got sprinkles too!. New shops are launching and our street corners are being adorned with desirable, pillows of beauty and art. Cupcakes are now hip!

If you are finding that window shopping has taken on a completely new twist with your afternoons spent looking longingly into the windows of cup cake shops imagining how divinely each uniquely presented morsel will taste, then help is at hand. Like diamonds, the price tag seems disproportionate to their size. So why ‘buy’ when you can learn to BYO (Bake Your Own). You too can make your friends drool with desire.

Make your own Sparkle Cupcakery Eggnog Cupcakes

Whilst others are sleeping off hangovers on a Sunday morning I find myself at the Sparkle Cupcakery for a cupcake making class. My fellow cupcakers are a varied bunch, a lawyer taking a break from her career, a project manager from England and very lucky lady whose boyfriend bought her the class as a birthday present (men of Australia please take note).

Our chef for the day is a patisserie chef from Café Sydney whose personality literally sparkles with enthusiasm. We are in expert hands and he launches into a Health and Safety speech picking up a hand mixer: “See this button here? Please don’t touch it, it’s the ejector button,” as he menacingly points the weapon of muffin destruction at me.

Feeling like celebrity chefs already, we are all itching to get cracking. All ingredients have been pre-weighed and are lined up in little bowls before us. Aprons donned we commence our mission to cupcake masterchef-dom.

STAGE ONE: Cream butter and sugar together. Pretty easy. But most of us stop after a few minutes of beating, satisfied that step one is complete.…"uh-uh get back ‘in there’ ladies.. the mixture needs to be fluffy and almost white". We look at each other with bewildering glances. Beat beat beat.

STAGE TWO: Add half your eggs and milk. Apparently this is where many homecooks go wrong, you must mix eggs thoroughly first. The second common mistake is that the eggs and milk are added too quickly and the mixture curdles. If anyone has ever tried to make mayonnaise, you will already be ahead with the concept of egg and oil divorce. The only option is to pray and keep beating. I take out my notepad and commit that piece of genius to my ‘how to solve cock-ups in the kitchen’ collection.

STAGE THREE: At this point you are very thankful for the electric mixer. Fitness First would have no clients if the modern day cook had to rely on arm muscles alone. After much scraping down the sides and much whizzing we have lovely fluffy mixtures. They are all of varying colours and volumes, though none are duds. Armed with ice cream scoops we put our trays with pretty silver cases on top of scales. Each must be an exact 60g scoop which brings out the competitive scientist in us. We reset the scales each time and high five the air when finally one out of the six is bang on!

Cupcakes are popped in the oven and we depart downstairs to have a very civilisied morning tea of sparkling wine and finger sandwiches. Sitting in the café chatting to my fellow cooks 30 minutes flies by.

Upstairs the cakes have cooled and we re-enter a wonderland of icing apparatus and bowls of coloured butter icing, cream and more sparkles than a starry night. After a few techniques are demonstrated we are let loose like a pack of four year olds at Toys r Us. We jump in and go a little crazy with designs. “Remember less is more ladies!” Mmm looking at my pink, white and marshmellow creations I think it’s a little late for that!

Twenty minutes later I step out of the shop with my six beautifully boxed cupcakes wanting to stop passers by with a ‘look what I did’ swagger. The only dilema remaining is what to do with them…they just look too pretty to eat. Maybe window shopping has more merits than I first thought.