I love cooking. And, I love baking just as much. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, baking does not come easy to me. I just enjoy it. And the more you do things, the better you get. Baking is a very tasty hobby to practice!
I’d like you to bear this in mind when you read this recipe, because honestly, I excelled myself and was so pleased with the results. It was a challenge, it was fun and it felt creative, which is what I love about cooking. Plus, the reward was damn right delicious…so all that wrestling with a piping bag was worth it!
Shed 1 Distillery kindly gifted me a bottle of their recent creation, Chuckleberry Gin. What on earth is a chuckleberry? Well, the bottle says “A chuckleberry is a hybrid between a redcurrant, gooseberry and jostaberry. A jostaberry is a hybrid of a gooseberry and a blackcurrant. There’s a lot going on!” The gin is the most incredible deep rose pink in colour, and the flavour is drier than I expected, true to a traditional style of gin, with wonderful complex florals and notes of tart red fruit. The aesthetic of the packaging has an a retro air to it, and the pink colour of the gin alludes to it too. To me it was just begging for cupcakeification, so I decided to give it what it deserved.
Cupcakes are so versatile and I wanted to create something fun. So, I opted to add a surprise with some gooey lemon curd oozing from the centre of the sponges. I’ve always fancied making lemon curd. And this was a great opportunity to make a boozy gin lemon curd to act as a filling for the cakes, and to slather on my toast for the next few days. You can use shop brought lemon curd, but if you fancy making some of my boozy St Clements gin lemon curd you can find the recipe here. May I say, it is well worth the minimal effort. It is delicious and now I’m thinking about all the different gins I can use for different flavoured curds. There are SO MANY!
So, I baked the sponges, utilising my stand mixer. You can do it by hand but it takes more effort and I love using my stand mixer. Once they were out the oven and cooled, I cut small holes in the top to hold a little of the lemon curd. Then I whipped up the buttercream and had my first real go at piping the icing on. It was tricky to say the least! Certainly not a professional looking result but they tasted glorious and I had so much fun making them. I drank a few gins as I went to get into the vibe of the flavour, and inbetween cooking I was dancing to Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club on BBC6. It’s one of my favourite shows and this week was particularly good. If you fancy getting in the same zone, you can hear the show here. This link is only going to work for a limited time so snatch that opportunity while you can! When it came to the buttercream I thought it was a little thick so added a third spoon of gin but it really only needed the two. The swirls left a little to be desired so I took a knife to it, spreading and swirling and flicking. I need to work on my technique for sure but it was just great fun to do it.
But what to drink with such a delicious morsel? Well with Valentines Day just around the corner, I can thoroughly recommend pairing these cupcakes with something I’m calling a ‘Stupid Cupid’, named after the Connie Francis classic. which is a single 25ml measure of Chuckleberry Gin topped up with traditional still cloudy lemonade. Ooh la la! The pink gin turns a beautiful blush colour and it is just as delicious as it looks.
A little treat for someone you love. And hey, a little treat for you too. Love yourself. You deserve it.
- 110 g unsalted butter
- 110 g caster sugar
- 110 g self raising flour
- 2 each large eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
- 150 g unsalted butter
- 300 g icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp Shed 1 Chuckleberry Gin
- 5 drops pink food colouring gel
- 3 tbsp lemon curd
- Preheat oven to 170C.
- Layout 12 cupcake cases on a tray. I use silicone ones which you can get from most places.
- I used a stand mixer as I find this a lot easier on the arms but you can do this by hand, just be aware you need to give it some welly! Add the butter to your stand mixer and beat on low for a few minutes to soften (you may need to pause and scrape the butter down the sides of the bowl here and there).
- Add the icing sugar and set on a low beat. Again, you might need to pause and scrape intermittently.
- Add the eggs and continue on low beat setting.
- Pause and add the flour, vanilla and salt. Continue low beat setting until mixed then turn up to midway for five minutes to ensure mixture is thoroughly combined.
- Spoon into cases and bake for 15 minutes until golden and springy. Avoid the urge to open the oven before 15 minutes is up. If your oven is on 170 they should be fine.
- Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.
- Cut small holes in each cupcake and spoon in a little lemon curd.
- Now, onto the buttercream. Add the butter to your stand mixer bowl and beat until soft, then add the icing sugar and beat on a low setting until combined.
- Add gin and vanilla and beat in, then add the food colour to your preferred shade of pink. I went with a light shade, but a brighter colour would also work well.
- Time to decorate! Spoon into an icing bag and pipe onto the cakes in a nice swirly motion.
- As tempting as it is to eat them straight away, let them sit for an hour or two and the icing should set. Serve with a 'Stupid Cupid' which is a measure of Chuckleberry Gin, topped with ice cold, traditional, flat cloudy lemonade. The drink turns an incredible blush colour and tastes just as good as it looks.