I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my hopes and dreams and white chocolate are in it; the kitchen utensils that betrayed me are on the draining-board. Today I detail one moderate success and one unmitigated disaster, with pictures for your amusement.
In the early days of my baking, and our relationship, Sam had the audacity to have a birthday, and PLAINLY a birthday is an excuse for baking. Sammy loves foxes. He loves foxes A LOT. His twitter name at that time was Sammy Loves Foxes (It is now Spaniel Palin in an effort to convince me that we should breach our tenancy agreement, forgo our small luxuries, throw our jobs and caution to the wind, and get a dog). He runs a tumblr called FoxPops (here). He has a fox kigu. I basically just bought him fox stuff for his birthday.
So, about four weeks before said birthday, I decided I wanted to do some foxy-baking for his birthday. I googled ‘fox cake’. Actually, before I did that, I googled ‘very hungry caterpillar cake’ and had to be talked down by Suzy from making the requisite 22 cupcakes, piping butter cream icing them, and transporting them from the wilds of North London to Clapham. So, anyway, THEN I googled ‘fox cake’ and found a) cake pops in the shape of foxes, or FOX POPS, and b) little cutesy foxy cupcakes, or CUB CAKES. Hot damn, I’m good. These sat on my browser tabs for about three and a half weeks, until I had a mad panic and realised I actually had to make them.
Now, I am resolutely unartistic. So, I borrowed a design from the internet which I could break down into component parts and drew myself little templates for these parts onto baking parchment, and I used these as templates to produce the below. I also made Suzy help me with the fox pops because she she is very artistic and also is MY LIFE.
Anyway, I baked a batch of vanilla cupcakes using the Hummingbird Bakery’s recipe (they’ve got some fab recipes in there, but I was going to try and make a fox out of royal icing, I wasn’t going to be messing around with anything more complicated than vanilla sponge. I’m not CRACKERS), and made four decorated cubcakes and used the remainder of the cakes to try create the foxpops.
I was moderately proud of the cupcakes: despite my lack of artistic skills, the fox faces are recognisably foxes and the tails… well the tails are not so great. Suzy tried to be supportive by saying ‘oh no, I’m sure they’ll look fine when they were finished’. They… they were finished. So she then appealed to my better nature by deciding that they looked like little fires and making some firefox pun.
I don’t really remember. I had a chest infection, and was trying not to weep into my burnt white chocolate. It was not good at the time.
So, the cake pops.It is difficult to express in words quite how badly the cake pop attempt went. The cakey poppy bit is actually pretty simple. Crumb some cupcakes. Make buttercream. Mix. Roll into balls. Refrigerate. It’s the rest that is less cake-ball and more ball-ache.
Disaster had already struck in that I couldn’t get lolly pop sticks, so was using, um, bamboo skewers. Stuck through an egg box. With blutack. WHAT? I SAW IT ON PINTEREST. I melted some white chocolate. Dyed it orange. It was all going SWIMMINGLY. I created holes in the cakepops, dipped them in the chocolate, popped them back in the cakepop to create a seal, allowed them to dry. SO PROFESH.
Then I dipped the balls in the chocolate. Most of them fell off into the chocolate. I popped them back into the sticks, and into the egg box. They fell out of the egg box. Several times. I propped them back up. Several times.
Whilst melting the white chocolate, the microwave inexplicably made a big blue flash, stopped working, and hummed for the remainder of our time in the kitchen. Then we tried to decorate them. It turns out that this is where it really went wrong. They ended up looking like really, really weird, orange bears.
Suzy made one covered with orange royal icing to try and prove some form of unspecified point. The noise of her wetting down and rolling the icing was vomit-inducing. I looked back at the hob to discover I had burnt the white chocolate whilst melting it. I’ll repeat that: I BURNT the white CHOCOLATE.
We decided to call it a day. I reminded her of the time we went to Lau’s All-You-Can-Eat Buffet King for a post-school-pre-dinner-meal and swore to TAKEITTOTHEGRAVE* and suggested that maybe — maybe — *gesturing wildly at the disaster-zone behind me*, this was another appropriate occasion for such an agreement. She gave me a hard look, and said solemnly ‘Livvy, you know you have to blog this’. So here we are.
I’m going to say maybe just follow my cupcake recipe, and forget about Foxpops.
It goes likes this:
Makes: at least 20 individual cakes; I ran out of muffin pan space at 18 and gave up
Takes: 30 minutes to bake the cakes, and then you will age c. 15 years trying to decorate them or turn them into attractive cakepops.
Bakes: 18-25 minutes
80 g softened unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
240 g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
240 ml whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 large eggs
Red, blue, and yellow food colourings
Chocolate chips etc.
1. Pre-heat oven to 190C/170C fan. Grease yo’ tray, or pop cases in tray.
2. Beat together butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Hummingbird want you to do this with an electric paddle mixer, but I’m not a MILLIONAIRE, and if I were, I would be spending my pennies on donkeys and puppies.
3. Mix the milk, vanilla essence and eggs together. Pour three quarters of this into the dry ingredients, whisking it into the mixture as you go. Add the rest of the milk mixture, mixing until you have a smooth batter.
4. Pour into your tin, filling each hole up by about 2/3. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove and cool.
5. Divide your icing into three and colour one third orange and one third light blue.
6. Roll the blue icing out preeeeeeetty thing, dusting surface and icing with cornflower. Cut circles out of the blue icing, roughly the same size as your cupcakes. I used a mug as a cutter for neatness and consistency.
7. Paint the top of each cool cupcake with apricot jam, and gently place a blue icing circle on top of each cupcake.
8. Using your templates, cut out the requisite orange and white bits and stick them on with apricot jam.
9. Add chocolate chips for nose and eyes to make them look FOXY.
10. Never, ever mention cakepops to me again.
11. TA DAH!
The Icing on the Cake: Don’t talk to me about icing, man. I think I’ve developed PTSD.
Addendum: If you DO want to make cakepops, or just want to ice your remaining cupcakes, I used butter icing, although I think you can use anything. I just mixed 60g butter and 200g icing sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract together. This gave the cakepops a nice texture. I SUPPOSE. Little bastards.