Hello Koala fans!
People sometimes ask me what other interests I have in life aside from baking and marsupials. Well, I’m a huge fan of webcomics of all flavours, whether it’s the mathematical geekiness of XKCD, the incredible story telling of Order of the Stick (and a big hello to the folks from the forum there) or Jocelyn Samara’s Rain comics. One that I’m particularly fond of is Khaos Komix. This comic follows the lives of eight different people and how they all connect with each other; each one is told from a certain character’s perspective and seeing how they all view the same event through different eyes is really inspiring. Khaos Komix also has a very strong LGBT focus and as such reminds me of a lot of my friends. Oh, it’s also NSFW in places, so make sure you’re at home before clicking the link!
It turned out that this weekend there was a huge comic exhibition in London and the crew behind Khaos Komix were going to be there to meet with fans and sell very shiny things. One particular shiny was very relevant to my interests:
This pendant is worn by a young woman called Charlie in the comic and I thought it would be really neat to turn the necklace into actual cupcakes. As you may recall, my last attempt at making cupcakes was only partially successful and given that this particular batch was going to have a very special recipient, I took to heart my lessons from the previous set. The recipe I used was this one:
…although I have to confess that I didn’t use gluten-free flour in the end. With this one, I made sure to purchase the ingredients in plenty of time and to have spares. The hardest part was finding the right kind of cupcake casing – I tried Hobbycraft, Tesco, Sainsburys…everywhere I could think of. In the end, it was only a lucky find on eBay that gave me the exact black and white pattern I needed:
Although I usually detail these baking attempts step by step, you’ve all seen me baking sponges so many times that it’s not something that needs repeating again. What you probably are interested in is how the cupcake bases turned out this time:
Perfectly baked all the way through! I made two very major changes to the baking process this time; first, I rearranged some of the shelves in the oven so that the cakes would be able to sit exactly in the centre and get a nice even bake all the way through. The second change was giving them more time. The cases here were shallower than the blue and pink ones I used last time, so I didn’t use as much cake mix. The reduced amount was in for 15 minutes at 190*C and it really helped things out.
With the cupcake bases successfully done, it was time to turn my attention to the icing. My usual method of gauging the amount of icing sugar approximately wasn’t going to cut it here, so I made sure to follow the buttercream icing recipe mentioned above. The only slight addition was half a tablespoon of hot water to the 200g of butter and 200g of icing. It tasted *much* better than my previous attempts; the extra amount of butter added a lovely creaminess to the icing:
As my assistant correctly points out, this was the first time I’ve actually used food colouring in my baking. Usually I rely on the natural colours, such as chocolate or amaretto or whatever flavour of icing I happen to be working with. Still, everything has a beginning somewhere…:
I added it one tiny drop at a time. The hesitant and cautious approach paid off here as it meant the colour built up gradually until it was the right shade:
The photo hasn’t captured it particularly well but the shade of green was slightly darker than it appeared above. We were on the right track.
There’s often a bit in action films where the hero or heroine is trying to disarm a bomb. The backing soundtrack goes quiet and the detonator is removed excruciatingly slowly. To such heroes I would say “Do that twenty more times and you might be ready to start frosting cupcakes.” Trying to keep the pattern consistent, making sure it covers the right area…you need nerves of steel and a steady hand. For these cupcakes, I iced an outer ring on each one in the green icing, before swapping over to uncoloured frosting for the central peak. The necklace has the central peak in white and gold frosting but that was beyond my skill for this attempt. It was getting rather late in the day too, so I didn’t really have enough time for any retries. The hardest part was carefully placing the little sugar hearts around the edge – I had to use a set of needle-nosed tweezers to make sure they went the right way up and in the right place. The end results?
I was very pleased with how they finally turned out. I repeated the process on another three of the best cupcakes from the batch I made. With the rest of the bases, I used up the rest of the frosting and simply scattered the sugar hearts over the top:
The day of the comic exhibition came and I went along with a friend of mine. It took quite a lot of wandering around before we finally found the Khaos Komix stall. The guys and girls at Khaos were every bit as wonderful in person as they are online. We talked about their new comic, bought some very wonderful shinies and then came the big presentation:
I hope they all enjoyed the cupcakes as much as I enjoyed making them!