Fantastic chocolate cup cakes

I made these with the help of two friends. One keen ten year old boy and one elderly, experienced lady cook. They came out so perfectly I want to share them!

Ingredients

- 6 ounces of softened, unsalted butter.

(Tom was fine with this no worries about grams etc!). You can soften butter quite quickly by putting it into luke-warm water for ten minutes.

- 6 ounces of caster cane sugar. Avoid using beet sugar – loads of pesticides apparently.

- Free range eggs:

Tom suggested 3 eggs. Mary insisted it’s best to weigh the eggs to around 6 ounces because sometimes 3 is either not enough or too much according to the size and that this CAN really make a difference. We agreed with her and used 2 huge home laid eggs!

- 1 teaspoon of natural, good quality vanilla essence. Take a good smell of the mixture after you’ve beaten it in. Yum!

- 6 ounces of good quality self-raising flour.

We are lucky enough to have a local mill that sources all it’s wheat from local farms and has been supplying craft bakers throughout the UK for years! So the quality is assured. It really does make a difference to the finished product whatever anyone says.

- 2 ounces of Bournville cocoa.

This may seem a lot but we all agreed it’s the thing that makes the difference between a proper tasting and smelling chocolate cake and a mediocre product – which we don’t want!

SO…

Method

In a good round-based mixing bowl, sat on a tea-towel to stop it sliding about, take a smallish wooden spoon and mash the butter into the sugar. Once combined  use the broad side of the spoon to beat air into the mixture, until it’s light and fluffy.

Then, one by one, add the eggs. Beat these in too until really light and fluffy.

Then beat mix in the vanilla. (smell this – Mmmm.)

Then sieve in the flour and cocoa together, folding it into the mixture gently and carefully to keep all the air you’ve beaten in, in! You may add a little milk if necessary to reach dropping consistency (when the mixture drops off the spoon without a shake).

Cover a baking tray with paper cake cases (cup cake, muffin, fairy – whatever you like) . Leave a little room between these to allow them to spread abit. If you put these in patty tins you will have neater, less fulsome-looking cakes. Your choice.

Fill the cases 2/3rds full.

Bake for 15 minutes or so in the baking oven of a four door Aga or at around 350/375 degrees or equivalent in a conventional oven.

When they are just cooked: they should be risen and just firm and springy to the touch, ….. remove and cool. Then ice them.

Icing

Melt 2 to 3 ounces of butter in a pan very gently. Add a heaped tablespoon of cocoa powder, a tablespoon of water and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Mix well to get rid of any lumps of cocoa powder.

Put some icing sugar into a mixing bowl and mix in the chocolate mixture. Add icing sugar and teaspoons of warm water,  a little at a time. Beat well until you have as much icing as you need.

Spread this icing carefully over each cooled cake, avoiding getting it on the paper cases but covering every bit of cake. Apart from anything this helps keep the cakes moist and delicious.

These cakes keep for a few days…. if you can stop people eating them!

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