Cupcakes and buttercream

I haven't baked much recently, and as a result, the fridge has been filling up with butter and eggs. So when I found a recipe for French buttercream, I just had to give it a shot. Afterall, the fridge had to be emptied, and I didn't feel like making hollandaise.

So to French buttercream, which has to be the richest thing you can possibly put on top of a cake. Unlike Swiss and Italian buttercream recipes, French buttercream uses egg yolks, not whites. That's right, it adds extra fat to the butter. The result is silky, buttery and delicious, and definitely not something you want to eat every day. It pipes a beautiful swirl, but is so rich you might prefer to spread it thinly.

This cupcake recipe is a great base for the buttercream. They're plain enough for the flavour of the icing to come through, but the vanilla bean paste makes them a little more special than an everyday butter cake or sponge.


Vanilla cupcakes

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tspn vanilla bean paste
1 1/3 plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a muffin pan with 12 patty cake cases. Cream the butter at high speed until pale and fluffy. Slowly add the caster sugar, beating well until dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for at least a minute after each. Add the vanilla and mix through. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add half to the butter mixture and mix at low speed. Follow with half the milk, then remaining flour and milk, mixing until just combined. Spoon into the patty cake cases and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

French buttercream

6 egg yolks
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
500g butter

Method

Using a whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks until very pale and foamy. Meanwhile combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat when the syrup reaches soft ball stage - around 120 degrees Celsius. Remove from heat. If necessary, transfer to a jug or pan with a pouring spout. Add a little to the egg mix, then whip for 30 seconds. Repeat until the syrup is completely incorporated in the egg mixture. Reduce the speed to medium and continue beating with the whisk until the mixture reaches room temperature. Change to a paddle beater and add the butter a little at a time. When all of the butter is combined with the egg and syrup, add flavour and colour as needed.

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