For the cupcakes
First thing you’ll need are some flat-topped cupcakes, which are perfect for decorating. This is the recipe I recommend: Flat-topped cupcakes MAKES 12
- 200g (7oz) self-raising flour
- 50g (1¾oz) plain flour
- 200g (7oz) caster sugar
- 200g (7oz) Stork/unsalted butter
- 4 medium free-range eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla flavouring
- blue, pink and purple food colouring (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. 2. Cream together the Stork/butter and sugar. Add the eggs and mix well. 3. Add the plain and self-raising flours and mix again. 4. Finally, add the flavouring, if using. 5. If you aren’t colouring the mixture, spoon the mix into a muffin tin lined with large cupcake cases until the cases are three-quarters full. If you are colouring the mixture like I have, separate it into three bowls and colour accordingly. I highly recommend using professional concentrated colourings like Sugarflair – I used sky blue, grape violet and pink. 6. Spoon alternate colours of mixture into a muffin tin lined with large cupcake cases until the cases are three-quarters full. 7. Bake for 35-40 minutes until springy to the touch and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely before decorating. Top tips:
- Low and slow – I bake my cupcakes at 160°C/Gas Mark 3 for a longer time of 35-40 minutes. This ensures a nice flat top which is perfect to decorate with. It can be tempting to turn up the heat and bake them in less time, but this can cause the cupcake to ‘peak’ into a little mountain and isn’t the best to pipe on!
- Good cases – One of the biggest problems people have with cupcakes is peeling cases. I find the best way to eradicate this is to use good quality, greaseproof cases. Sure, cheaper ones may come in bulk, but you’re more likely to get peelers.
- Storage – Another cause of peeling cases is humidity. Try not to store your cupcakes in an airtight box. Not only will the cases not like it, but the cupcakes themselves may go sticky. A cardboard box is best as this allows a little airflow without anything nasty getting into your lovely cupcakes.
- Freezing – You can easily make your cupcakes in advance and freeze them for up to three months. Make sure to be using good greaseproof cases and, once baked and completely cooled, they can be transferred to a sealable sandwich bag and popped straight in the freezer. Allow to completely defrost before decorating – but that only usually takes an hour or so.
Firstly, you need to make some buttercream: For the galaxy unicorn buttercream
- 250g (9oz) unsalted butter
- 500g (1lb 1oz) icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- blue, pink and purple food colouring
- You will also need clingfilm, a large piping bag and a piping nozzle (I used a 1M open star nozzle).
1. Cream the butter on its own for a few minutes until it is soft and lighter in colour. Add the icing sugar a little bit at a time and mix well. It may seem crumbly at first and you might be tempted to add in liquid, but keep mixing and it’ll get there. Finally, add the vanilla and mix on a high speed until it is soft and spreadable. 2. Separate the buttercream into three bowls. Colour one bowl pink, one bowl blue and one bowl purple. I used the same Sugarflair colours I used for the sponge and I’ll reiterate again how important it is to use good quality, concentrated colours! Colours that are predominantly water will severely affect the consistency of your buttercream. 3. You can, at this point, just spoon the different colours into a piping bag, but I find if I do that it’s not too long until all the colours have mixed into a light, bluish purple. I’ll get maybe one or two perfect swirl cupcakes but it goes downhill after that. To keep the colours as separate as possible for as long as possible in the swirl, I like to use a clingfilm technique. 4. Once you have your three colours, place a sheet of clingfilm on the worktop and spoon or pipe a stripe of each colour next to each other. I piped on my stripes, but you can use a spoon if you don’t have any spare piping bags. 5. Gently roll up the clingfilm so you have a wrapped log of tri-colour buttercream. Twist the clingfilm at both ends to seal the buttercream in. 6. Fit a large piping bag with your chosen nozzle, then carefully fill the piping bag with your clingfilm log of buttercream. Pull the end of the clingfilm through the nozzle and cut with scissors, then pipe a ‘starter’ blob of buttercream into a bowl until all the colours are coming out combined. Now you can pipe buttercream swirls onto your cupcakes! To get a nice height on a swirl, first pipe a star of buttercream into the middle of the cupcake. Then, starting on the outside, using an even pressure, squeeze out the buttercream in a clockwise motion, going round until you reach the top. Then, and this is the important bit, stop squeezing and then pull away to ensure a nice pointy top. Top your cupcakes with sprinkles – I used some multi-coloured stars, perfect for galaxy unicorns! Leave to set and enjoy within 2-3 days. Happy baking! Britt xxx