Well of course as many good things do it started in the States.
But somehow my Mum got there first. In her baking days she regularly made butterfly cakes in little paper case with the top sliced off and then artfully placed in the butter icing to form the “wings”. They were never different. They never had coloured icing or chocolate bits on them like the modern newly fashionable cupcakes of Sex and The City and the like.
Of course Nigella has her own take on cupcakes and calls them Love Buns….need I say more?
Here’s a recipe in case you feel a cup cake coming on..
Makes 12 buns.
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon soft butter
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
- 2-3 tablespoons milk
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Heart-shaped sprinkles to decorate
- Take everything you need out of the fridge in time to bring to room temperature — this makes a huge difference to the lightness of the love buns later — and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Put all of the ingredients for the buns, except for the milk, into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk down the funnel to make a smooth, dropping consistency.
- Divide the mixture into a 12-bun muffin tin lined with muffin papers or heart-patterned cases, and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. They should have risen and be golden on top; you want a little peak if possible.
- Let them cool a little in their tin on a rack, and then take them carefully out of the tin to cool in their papers, still on the wire rack.
- Now for the topping. Here is a slight dilemma, as you’ll make more than you need for the 12 buns, but if you halve the quantities, you won’t have quite enough. If you’re making these for you and your one true love, then I presume you won’t need all 12 of them, in which case you could freeze most of the buns to be iced and eaten at some later date, and halve the topping ingredients to decorate the few you want today.
- This is a frosting that has a kind of meringue base, by which you whisk egg whites over heat until they’re stiff and gleaming. So make a double-boiler with a heatproof bowl that will fit snugly over a saucepan of barely simmering water, and put all of the ingredients for the frosting, except for the vanilla and sprinkles, into the bowl. Whisk everything with an electric beater until the icing becomes thick and holds peaks like a meringue. This will take about 5 minutes, so be patient.
- Take the bowl off the saucepan and onto a cool surface and keep whisking while you add the vanilla. Then keep whisking until the mixture cools a little. You want a proper peaked and whipped covering here, so spoon some frosting over each bun and then dollop another spoonful over in a swirly fashion. Immediately shake over your choice of sprinkles, as the icing will set very quickly. Indeed, these look rather like stage prop buns or the fake ones that some bakeries used to keep in their windows, so plasticky and gleaming are they.