Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Spring has sprung, and I need cake to celebrate! Pistachio cupcakes with vanilla frosting

Well, I am saying Spring has sprung but I think those who live on this rock know that being snowed in in March is perfectly feasible, and even though today is gloriously sunny and really quite mild, all things considered, next week will most probably see us rain sodden, windswept and cursing the heavens once more. But, I will remain positive. It's hard not to when you see the shoots of green and daffodils dancing in the breeze, (with thanks to Mr Wordsworth). 

So as there is not enough cake blogging going on around here, I decided that my enthusiasm for all things springlike and my love of baking cakes should meet somewhere in the middle. Here is the middle: pistachio cupcakes, (for their hint of green) with vanilla frosting that I dyed a daffodil yellow. The addition of the odd white flower on the frosting was just a little embellishment on a whim. Flowers cheer even the most determined of pessimists, even if only briefly.

Because I am posting as a mum who likes baking, it does mean I occasionally screw up, and the observant amongst you will note that the cupcakes which came out of the oven were a darker shade of brown that I might have liked. Learn from my mistakes, don't sort washing whilst baking. I am not overly hung up about it though. A good thick layer of frosting solves many problems, the slightly darkened top of a cupcake that has been in five minutes too long is easily overcome.

The recipe is adapted from 'Cupcakes' by Susannah Blake. I added vanilla to the original recipe. The frosting recipe, if you can call it that, is a haphazard affair which involves a bit of butter, a splosh of vanilla, quite a bit of icing sugar and some milk to slacken it if necessary. I say all this most sincerely, as I tend to add stuff judiciously until I am happy with the taste and consistency. I generally start with about 125g of butter for 12 cupcakes and add icing sugar until I am happy with it all, I probably used about 250 -300g of icing sugar with a splosh of vanilla and a big splash of milk. Yes, I know. Not helpful.

Pistachio cupcakes with yellow vanilla frosting, adapted from 'Cupcakes' by Susannah Blake


45g pistachio nuts
115g butter at room temperature
115g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g self raising flour
2 tbsp milk

For the frosting:

Approximately 125g room temperature butter
Approximately 250g icing sugar (though more may be required)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 2 tbsp milk (but be prepared to add more)
food colouring of your choice, in this case a knife tip of yellow food colouring paste


Preheat the oven to 180c or Gas 4 and prepare a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases

Put the pistachio nuts in a whizzer and process until finely ground, or else give yourself a workout with a mortar and pestle. Set aside until required.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and then beat in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that you beat thoroughly after adding each egg.

Add the vanilla, and the pistachio nuts, then sift the four into the mixture and carefully fold in. Do not over beat at this stage. Once the flour is combined, add the milk.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, or use an ice cream scoop (my weapon of choice)

Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes until the tops are brown and feel springy.

Transfer to a rack to cool. Meantime make the frosting.

Beat the butter until soft and then add some icing sugar. Beat until the icing sugar disappears, then add the vanilla followed by more icing sugar. If the mixture is becoming stiff splosh in some of the milk. Add the icing sugar and milk until you are happy with the sweetness and the consistency. Finally add the food colouring and beat until the frosting is evenly coloured.

When the cakes are cool and the frosting is made, use a spatula to fill a piping bag with a large star nozzle. Squeeze the frosting onto the cakes in a swift, circular motion, starting on the outside of the cake and working inwards.

Decorate the frosting with any adornments you choose. I cut out some white sugar paste flowers and dropped them on.

Enjoy with a cup of tea, out in the garden somewhere, watching the world wake up to Spring!

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