19 July 2012

Piña Colada Cupcakes: Flamingos On Tour


After a month and a half of rain and a poor excuse for summer, here in the UK we have finally been given news (actual headline news, if you can believe it) that sunshine and warmer climes are on their way. What better way to get in the mood for summer's approach than to make these summery cupcakes?

London - prior to taking off at Gatwick for more exotic locations? Postcard from DW.
I thought that since today's weather was as dreary and miserable as ever it would be fun to use my hoarded postcards from yesteryear as a backdrop for my photos. 

Pisa. Postcard from my dad.
These cupcakes actually came to fruition when I was trying to think of ways to use up the excess fondant icing left over from the Portal Companion Cube Cake that I made back in May. It's been sitting in an airtight container for nearly two months because I don't like fondant icing and didn't want to cover a cake in it when it's nobody's birthday and I've got so much piping to do! My dad actually came up with making flamingos with the pink icing, and from there the cogs in my brain started to turn until I came up with these!

I want to say Spain... but I'm not sure. Oh, maybe Greece? Postcard from VS.
I'll be honest - I was a little lazy with the postcards, only using the ones that weren't in the album have I bought to contain my rather large pile of them. The album has 6x4 slots, but about 30% of my postcards are larger than this so I've just had to slide them in between the pages to make sure I keep them in chronological order (have I ever mentioned that I'm a bit of an organisation freak?) The larger photos were hence easier to access. Obviously I didn't use every single one of my postcards because this is a baking blog and not a postcard collectors anonymous page, but I used some of the more sunny locations!

....And back to the UK for Center Parks! I wrote this postcard to a friend when I was ten but never sent it - the writing on it says 'my favourite part', pointing to the water slide.
I know that the seams are quite visible on some of the flamingos, but I'm pretty chuffed that they all went so well on my first attempt! You may remember that I made a Piña Colada Cake back in January as a post-exam celebration; these cupcakes are almost the exact same recipe, except the buttercream has different proportions and I used caster sugar, not light muscovado, in the cake. I also used less Malibu this time. I think if you take a look at that cake and then look at this one, you might notice that my icing skills have come along somewhat since then. I've also discovered gel food colouring, which means my cakes no-longer have such a 1970s feel, as per the colour scheme in the other cake. 


Words of warning: first, obviously, there is alcohol in the cake so be careful who you feed it to; second, and not so obvious, there's a cocktail stick in the neck of each flamingo so make sure you warn anyone who likes fondant icing!

Makes 14
Ingredients
For the cake:
  • 200g Self Raising Flour
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 200g Pineapple Chunks
  • 2 Shots Malibu (or cheap alternative)
For the buttercream:
  • 450g Icing Sugar
  • 140g Butter
  • 2 Shots Malibu (see above)
  • Blue Gel Food Colouring
For the flamingos:
  • 19 Cocktail Sticks/Toothpicks
  • 150g Pink Fondant Icing (or buy white and use food colouring to make it pink)
  • 30g White Fondant Icing
  • Yellow Gel Food Colouring
Recipe
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line a cupcake tin with cases.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy - about five mins.
  • Beat in the eggs until the mixture is smooth, then sift in the flour and baking powder, folding it in gently.
  • Mash or blend the pineapple chunks, then fold them into the cake batter.
  • Add the shots of Malibu and stir to combine, then divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Meanwhile, make the flamingos: take a small ball of pink fondant icing and roll it into a slight oblong shape, pinching one end a bit to make it look vaguely like a tail.
  • Take a ball of icing about a quarter of the size of the first one and roll it into a slightly elliptical ball. Pinch one end so that the rounded part looks like it could be a head with the pinched part being the start of the neck.
  • Next, take a small amount of the pink fondant icing and roll it into a sausage.

  • Break a cocktail stick into three and dunk a piece in a glass of water. Press it into the sausage shaped icing, lengthwise, and wrap the icing around it. Use your wet fingers to blend the seam. Cut off any ends on the sausage don't have cocktail stick in the middle.
  • Wet your fingers in the glass of water and use them to wet one end of the sausage. Press it onto the 'head' end of the oblong piece of icing (with the tail at the opposite end), pushing the end of the cocktail stick into the body. Use your wet fingers to blend the icing.
  • Next, make the beaks by adding a drop of the yellow colouring to the white fondant icing and kneading until the colour is spread uniformly. Pinch off small lumps of icing and make one end into a point. Stick the other end to the 'head' by wetting the non-pointed end, then bend the 'beak' so that the pointy end points downwards.
I actually made all the pieces in one go before assembling them. You may wish to so the same.
  • Wet the 'neck' part of the head piece and gently press it into the top of the neck until the end of the cocktail stick has connected with it. Wet your fingers and smooth the edges. You may also want to take the opportunity to make sure the neck is shaped to your satisfaction.
  • Stick the end of a cocktail stick in the water before inserting it into the centre of the bottom of your flamingo. Leave the flamingo on its side for a few seconds so that the icing sets around the cocktail stick. You can check that it'll hold the flamingo by inserting it into a cake before you ice them. Now, repeat thirteen times!
  • To make the buttercream, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the Malibu and butter. Use an electric whisk on a slow speed to initially mix the ingredients up so that icing sugar doesn't fly up into the atmosphere, then increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy. Add the blue food colouring and whisk until the colour is evenly distributed.
  • Pipe the buttercream however you wish, then stick a flamingo in the middle of it. Make sure you push them in far enough that they won't fall over.

For tips on how to bake, take a look at The Basics.

I'm really pleased with these cupcakes. Not only do they look good, but they taste good too and the Malibu flavour comes through the sugar in the icing as an added bonus. I really hope you like them as much as I do. They really aren't as hard as they look - I've never done this sort of thing before and the Portal Cake was the  first time I'd ever used fondant icing, so it's really novice material! Let me know if you give them a try.

                                                                                                     

I'm entering these into Treat Petite, a challenge hosted alternately by Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer (this month's host). The theme is summer; I think these fit the bill quite nicely!


I'm also entering these into the fun themed Baking With Spirit challenge from February 2015. If these don't count as fun, I don't want to be a part of it.

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