So let's get to it and bake!
Russian Caravan Cupcakes. Yum
Yield: 6 muffin size cupcakes
Time: hands on time 20 minutes; plus 20 minutes bake time; cooling time; steeping time
Freezable: Yes, undecorated
You will need:
Small Heavy Based Pan
Electric Hand Held Beater
Spatula or large Metal Spoon
Muffin size Paper Cases
Muffin Baking Tray
Piping Bag (optional)
Piping Nozzle (I used a petal nozzle, No. 127) (optional)
For the flavoured butter
300g Unsalted Butter
4 Russian Caravan Teabags
For the sponge mixture
90g Unsalted Butter, infused with the tea
45g Golden Caster Sugar
45g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
90g SR Gluten Free Flour (or regular SR flour), sieved
1 - 2 tbsp milk
For the tea infused buttercream
120g Unsalted Butter, infused with the tea (or what ever you have remaining)
250g Icing Sugar (or to taste)
2 - 3 capfuls Milk
How to make them:
1. Infuse the tea flavour into the butter. Cube the butter into the small heavy based pan, this will help it melt at an even rate rather than being in one large block. Sit the tea bags on top of the butter. Set the pan over a low to medium heat and allow the butter to melt. Once it starts to melt stir it periodically with a wooden spoon, being careful to not damage the teabags. Allow the butter to heat up until it is very warm for about 20 - 30 seconds (though not boiling). Stir again. At this point you will notice the butter is darkening due to the tea infusion. Turn off the heat. Allow the butter to cool, but continue to give it a gentle stir every 5 minutes or so.
2. Remove the teabags. Once the butter has started to solidify carefully remove the teabags. Aim to remove as much of the flavoured butter from them as possible by squeezing them (without damaging the bag as you don't want leaves in the butter). Discard the teabags.
3. Pre-heat the oven to 190c / Fan 170c / Gas 5. Place the muffin cases into the muffin tray.
4. Make the sponge. Place the soft, flavoured, butter (90g) and sugars into a good sized bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon or electric beaters until very pale and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk. Sieve the flour into the mixture. Using a spatula or large metal spoon fold this in gently.
5. Fill the muffin cases. Using a teaspoon, fill the cases with the batter mixture. You're aiming for them to be half to two-thirds full. You may decide to weigh each muffin to ensure equal sizes. Each cupcake will weigh about 60g.
6. Bake. Place the muffin tray in the centre of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. You may need to rotate the tray after 15 minutes of baking. Once baked, remove from the oven and place on a cooling tray.
7. Make the buttercream. Place the remaining flavoured butter into a good sized bowl. Sieve most of the icing sugar into the butter. Use a wooden spoon to combine the two ingredients. Once combined beat well to create a creamy frosting. Taste and add more icing sugar if necessary. Add a little milk if the mixture feels particularly thick. (I added 2 capfuls)
8. Decorate the cupcakes. Once the cupcakes are completely cold beat the buttercream again for a few seconds. Place your chosen piping nozzle into the piping bag which has had a small amount cut from the piping end allowing the nozzle to fit snuggly. Half fill your piping bag with the butter cream. Decorate the cakes with your chosen style of piping. I attempted a ruffle. You may prefer to apply the frosting with a knife rather than piping it.
9. Sprinkle with chocolate strands. Once the tea flavoured buttercream has been applied, sprinkle a few chocolate strands on top of the frosting to mimic tea leaves.
Enjoy, with a good cup of tea of course 😉
Post Script: Since publishing this recipe I have carried out a little Side-by-Side Baking experiment looking three different ways to capture tea flavour in sponges and which the preferred method is, according to my small army of tasters!