United States – Boston Cream Cupcakes

I visited Boston during a three month trip to Canada just before university. My friend and I popped over for a couple of nights after visiting Quebec City and Montreal. It was a short flight and we thought why not. It was nearly 20 years ago (now that is scary) so the trip is a bit hazy, but I do remember us sitting in the grounds of Harvard University reading books, trying to look intellectual and pretending to be Harvard students! I’d love to go back and explore the city again. I remember loving the feel about the place, I remember the wide, smart streets, following the Freedom Trail to Parliament Hill and admiring the view, finding the pub where Cheers was filmed and not going in as we weren’t old enough to buy drinks.  I also remember our hostel room was boiling hot at night, so we had a ceiling fan whirring away all night. It was one of those Catch-22’s where you needed the fan to keep you cool and help you sleep, but at the same time the noise of the fan kept me awake!!

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I baked these cupcakes to take to my sister’s to have after a Sunday roast. They went down a treat with niece and nephews as well as adults, so a win-win. A little bit of effort, but they were worth it. The recipe comes from the wonderful Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days cookbook and whilst I don’t think mine looked quite as smart as theirs (I ran out of time), they tasted pretty good.

Boston Cream Cupcakes

Makes 12-16 (mine made 17!)

For the sponge

  • 80g unsalted butter, softened
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

For the filling

  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

For the frosting

  • 400g icing sugar
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • 160g unsalted butter, softened
  • 80ml whole milk
  • Finely grated dark chocolate, to decorate (I didn’t bother!)

Preheat the oven to 190C (reduce by 10-20C for fan-assisted oven), and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.

Use a hand-held electric whisk, or mixer with paddle attachment and mix the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt on a low speed until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Place remaining ingredients in a jug and whisk by hand, then pour 3/4 of this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine.  Increase the speed to medium, keep mixing until smooth and thick, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Add remaining milk mixture and beat until combined and smooth.

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Spoon the batter into the cases, filling by two-thirds (according to the tips in the back, it should be around 50ml-they use an ice-cream scoop). Any remaining batter can be  spooned into another tin (or wait until the first batch has cooked if you only have one tin). Bake for 18-20 mins or until well risen, springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool.

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While the cupcakes are cooking, make the filling. Pour the milk and vanilla essence into a saucepan and bring to boil. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining ingredients together by hand until smooth and well combined.

Once the milk is boiling, remove from heat and pour 4-5 tbsp into the egg-yolk mixture to loosen, then return this mixture to the pan of hot milk, stirring to incorporate.

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Return pan to heat and bring to boil, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Boil for at least 1 minute to ensure flour is properly cooked. Once thickened, tip custard into a bowl, cover with cling film to prevent skin forming, then leave to cool completely (30-40 mins).

To make the frosting, use electric whisk or mixer with paddle attachment to slowly beat together icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter until sandy in texture. Gradually pour in milk, then increase speed to high and whisk until soft and fluffy.

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Using a sharp knife, make a hole in centre of each cupcake about 2ch in diameter and 3cm deep, reserving the scooped out pieces of sponge. Pipe or spoon the custard into the hole in each cake, then replace the sponge lid, trimming to ensure top is fairly level (eat the rest of the sponge trimmings – well, great excuse to test the sponge – we don’t like food waste!!). Divide frosting between cupcakes, smooth tops with palette knife and add a swirl. My swirl skills were not very good! Sprinkle with grated chocolate to decorate.

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