The Hummingbird bakery is best know for its vanilla cupcakes topped with candy-coloured vanilla frosting and sprinkles – and they never fail to please. When you make these at home, don’t overcook them – they should be light golden and spring back when touched. This way you will ensure an airy, moist sponge with a subtle vanilla flavour.
- Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3, 170°C, fan 150°C, and line a 12-hole cupcake tray with paper cases. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
- Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.
- Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- When the cupcakes are cold, spoon vanilla frosting, or one of the alternatives, on top and decorate with hundreds and thousands.
Watch our video for tips on how to ice fairy cakes
For the vanilla frosting
- Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to slow speed.
- Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.
- Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
Recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, by Tarek Malouf (Ryland, Peters & Small, £16.99), photography by Peter Cassidy.
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