When can I learn to cook? A plaintive call across the dinner table. But not from Girl Urchin, oh no, for she’s quite happy with mixing bowls and beaters and licking chocolate spoons; no this was her brother. He’d been more than a kitchen assistant for his sister’s recent easter cake – and I’m in big trouble for not getting a picture of that one and a recipe down for you. Not content with making a cup of tea and putting milk on his cereal, he’s looking to do a bit more.
Chocolate Butterfly Cakes. A good place to start, and one that involves some finger-licking bowl cleaning. It also comes with more trouble for your host as the accompanying picture here is straight from the book. There is a photo of the end result but it remains in the camera, which is now heading off to the Northern Wastes, leaving a period of quiet reflection here at Grasshopper Towers. And they’ve taken the cakes with them.
Anyway, let’s start with the list of the necessary:
8 tbsp. soft margarine; 100g caster sugar; 150g self-raising flour; 2 large eggs; 2 tbsp. cocoa powder; 25g plain chocolate, melted; icing sugar for dusting. And for the filling 6 tbsp. butter, softened; 175g icing sugar; 25g plain chocolate, melted.
And the instructions, ideal for your average 10 year old who of course weighs and measure precisely:
Put 12 paper baking cases in a muffin pan, or 12 double cases on a baking sheet.
Put the margarine, sugar, flour, eggs and cocoa in a large bowl and, using an electric hand whisk, beat together until just smooth. Beat in the melted chocolate. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, filling them 3/4 full.
Bake the cupcakes in a pre-heated oven, 180c/gas4, for 15 minutes or until springy to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
To make the filling, put the butter in a bowl and beat until fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar and beat together until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat until well mixed.
When the cupcakes are cold, use a serrated knife to cut a circle from the top of each cake and then cut each circle in half. Spread or pipe a little of the buttercream into the centre of each cupcake and press the 2 semicircular halves into it at an angle to resemble butterfly wings. Dust with a little icing sugar before serving.
On reflection it might be best to make your cream slightly thin and to play with a piping bag – spreading thicker cream with a knife proved tricky. But the end result was quite delicious and I suspect they may not survive the drive north to be proudly presented on arrival.
It doesn’t end there though, for I’ve had an assistant with the soup and the rolls. Scraping the carrots needs a bit of practice but we’ll have him peeling the tatties before long. Bread-making too is a longer project, after recoiling at getting the hands in and getting mucky. But anything to do with weighing and measuring is fun; as is cutting the dough into rolls. Measuring out the spices for the soup proved much more up his street than chopping the garlic. Thankfully the soup and rolls have been left on the kitchen table, and I can guarantee there will be none left when they return.
One day we’ll have a meal prepared and presented by The Urchins, jointly and collectively, without squabbling, and packed with flavour. All we’ll have to do is clean up the debris, after scoffing the goodies of course. And at this early stage I’m pretty sure we’ll be well fed.