Sunday, July 27, 2014

Overwhipped cream and overflowing cupcakes

Baking disasters are distressingly common, but there's usually a way of salvaging something presentable from the wreckage. Here's a couple of examples, starting from my attempt to whip cream for a chocolate and raspberry semifreddo yesterday.

1. Overwhipped cream.

Whipping cream in a food processor sounds like a time saver, but it's easy to over-whip and go past the 'stiff peaks' stage. You know when you've done it, because your cream turns to butter. Like this:

If you've only slightly over-whipped the cream, you can salvage it by simply adding more cream and whipping a little more until you get the right consistency. Pastry chef Helen Fletcher explains the process here. Even the pros do this, apparently.

If you've gone so far that it's yellow and separated into solid and liquid forms, this won't work. Don't throw it away though. It's butter. Pour off the buttermilk, and use it in cake recipes like you would any other butter. I had a couple of over-ripe bananas to use up, so I made banana cupcakes, using Mary Berry's banana loaf recipe spooned into little cake cases and baked for about 20 minutes. Which leads to the next baking disaster...

2. Overflowing cupcakes.

Banana cake batter is more liquid than your average cupcake mix. Add that to slightly over-filling the cake cases, and you've got cupcakes that overflow in the oven, leading to a messy irregular shape. Like these:

Fortunately there's a fix for this too. As described by Elaine from Edge Desserts here, take them out of the cases, turn them upside-down on a board, and trim them with a round cookie cutter. This also neatly gets rid of any hard, over-baked edges. You can just trim the edges with a sharp knife, but the cookie cutter gives a neater and prettier finish, leading to perfectly evenly-sized little cupcakes. Pop them into fresh cases, and no one will ever know they weren't supposed to be that way, especially once they're frosted.

I made frosting with 200ml whipped cream (taking care not to over-whip this time!) and 30g icing sugar plus two tablespoons cocoa powder. The icing sugar stabilises the whipped cream and gives it a firmer consistency for piping. So, banana cupcakes with chocolate frosting, and an (almost) effortless recovery from two baking mishaps.

Don't throw away the leftover trimmings either. They're perfect for using in a trifle base...or just eating.


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