Give your loved one a bouquet with a difference with this beautiful floral arrangement made with homemade cupcakes! The icing is easy once you get the hang of it, and your recipient is bound to appreciate the time and effort that has gone into this beautiful home baked gift.
Preparation time 11/4 hours plus cooling Baking time 20 mins Makes 12 cakes For the cakes: 200g butter, softened 200g caster sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract 4 eggs, large 200g self raising flour, sifted 2 tbsps milk For the butter cream: 175g butter, softened 350g icing sugar, sifted 1-2 tbsp milk Food colouring For the bouquet: Plant pot or wide neck vase to fit oasis sphere Glass pebbles or stones 16cm sphere of dry florist oasis 2x packets plastic treat/pop sticks by Wilton Cocktail sticks Foliage Tissue paper (optional) Ribbon (optional) Instructions: 1 Line a 12 hole muffin tray with muffin paper cases. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160° fan/gas mark 4. 2 Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat well. Add the eggs one at a time, following each with a spoonful of the flour to prevent curdling, beating well after each addition. Fold in the remaining flour using a metal spoon then stir in the milk. 3 Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cases so they are about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 mins until golden and well risen. Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a cooling rack. 4 To construct the bouquet firstly add some weight in the bottom of the pot or vase using glass pebbles or stones. Push the oasis into your pot ensuring the sphere is firmly wedged into the pot with no more than half the ball above the top of the pot. 5 Push approximately eight pop sticks into the oasis visualising where you would like the cakes to go, keeping the sticks roughly in the top half of the visible oasis and evenly distribute them around the ball as shown in Photo A. Push some sticks in more than others and at different angles but make sure all sticks are pushed in far enough so they feel secure. </span 6 Push a group of four cocktail sticks into the bottom half of the visible oasis so only a few centimeters of the sticks are showing. The sticks need to be close enough together so they can all support one cupcake. Add approximately 3-4 more groups of cocktail sticks around the oasis. 7 Use a sharp knife to cut a small hole in the centre of the underside of some of the paper cases containing the cooked cakes. Gently push the cakes onto the prong on the top of the treat sticks, pushing the prong through the holes you cut. 8 Push the rest of the cakes onto the cocktail sticks being careful not to push too far otherwise the sticks will come through the cakes. The best way to do this is to steady the four cocktail sticks with one hand and hold the cake in the other. As you push the cake onto the sticks steady them so they cannot push too far into the cakes or into the oasis. If your cakes aren’t at the right angle add another cocktail stick at a different height to the others to change the angle slightly. 9 Check you are happy with the arrangement and move the cakes around if necessary as it is harder to do this later on. Arrange the foliage in the florist foam to fill the gaps between the cakes. Use foliage that is roughly the same height as the cakes otherwise the cakes could gets lost if the foliage is too high. Once the arrangement is complete remove the cakes from the sticks. Wrap the base of the pot in paper if desired and/or decorate with ribbon. 10 For the butter cream, beat the butter in a large bowl until smooth and soft. Gradually stir in the icing sugar and beat well. 11 To pipe the rose effect the butter cream needs to be extremely soft so add one tablespoon of milk to begin with and mix well. This should create the correct consistency but if it is still a little stiff add another tablespoon of milk. Add a few drops of food colouring and stir until evenly distributed throughout. Let the butter cream stand for 5 mins to allow the colour to fully develop and then mix well again. 12 Spoon the butter cream into a piping bag fitted with a large closed star piping nozzle. Position the tip of the nozzle hovering just above the centre of the cupcake (Photo 1). Apply an even pressure to the piping bag and start to pipe the butter cream by piping around the cupcake in one continuous motion in increasing circles (Photo 2) until you reach the outside edge, wrapping the flow of butter cream around itself as you move. It is important to move your hands and not the cupcake to create the rose effect. Release the pressure to stop the flow of cream and as you pull away, flick the butter cream gently towards the cake to form a tidy finish (Photo 3). 13 Gently the push the decorated cakes into position on the sticks being careful not to let the foliage touch the butter cream. TIP: * Make sure you use muffin sized paper cases so the cakes are large enough to give the best piped rose effect. Do not over fill the cases with cake mixture as you want the sponge to be roughly in line with the top of the cases.