Add a bit of salty sophistication to your vanilla cupcakes and see them stand out in the crowd. Passion fruit revolutionises an icing.
- Check butter (for cake and icing) and eggs are at room temperature.
- Pre-heat oven to 180C/gas 4. Sit 12 large paper cake cases into a 12 hole muffin tin.
- Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl.
- Tip butter into a second larger mixing bowl. Break it up with a wooden spoon.
- Add the sugar and beat with a wooden spoon for 4 minutes or until pale, creamy and light. Use an electric hand whisk if you like. Keep going until it’s properly light and aerated.
- Beat eggs with a fork. Add to mix a dribble at a time, beating as you go during and between additions. If it looks like splitting/curdling, don’t panic. Add and beat in 2 teaspoons of the flour to bring it back together. Add vanilla extract.
- Add the flour. Fold into creamy mix with a large metal spoon, cutting and scooping down until just mixed in. Keep it light, minimal and don’t overwork it.
- Divide equally between cake cases using two spoons. Don’t press it down.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden, springy to touch. Close oven door very slowly if not quite done so they don’t collapse. Remove from the oven, tins and leave to cool on a rack.
Ice & Plate
- For icing: slice passion fruit across. Scoop contents into a sieve over a bowl. Press the juice/pulp through using a spoon. Discard seeds/shell. Set aside. Sift icing sugar.
- Tip butter into a large bowl. Break it up with a wooden spoon. Add 2 tablespoons icing sugar. Beat to incorporate. Repeat. When half the sugar’s in, add vanilla extract and 1-2 tablespoons passion fruit juice. Continue to beat, adding sugar gradually. Taste, add more passion fruit juice and a good squeeze of lime for a slightly fizzy icing. Add a bit of milk if it’s hard to work. You want a soft but spreadable icing. Beat in a few drops of pink icing gel/colour if you wish. Spoon into an icing bag fitted with a star nozzle (mine was 1 cm wide). Pipe wide swirls to cover each cake or pile and shape it. Top with a heart sweetie or two.
- If using bacon, grill the rashers 2 minutes per side or until crisp. Sit on kitchen paper to drain. Break into ‘wafer’ lengths. Stick them into your icing just before serving.