To me baking is a combination of meditation, chemistry and history. The methodical selection of the right flour, and the choice of which sugar to choose, golden, caster, muscavado … the list goes on! My kitchen becomes a giant chemistry set and me the mad professor in the middle debating if I really can combine curry powers and courgettes into an edible muffin. Once the culinary chemistry is complete the creating and the history begins, knowing that these choices and these methods of combining ingredients have been used by my mother, and her mother and her mother all in turn. Suddenly my kitchen chemistry set and my humble bowl and spoon have been transported back hundreds of years and I’m no longer just making a cake, but baking history and that gives me a sense of pride and belonging.
I often bake for colleagues and friends, but I never tell anyone what I’ve baked until they see it, I think there are not enough happy surprises in the world; it’s something small and insignificant I know, but for them it’s just a little something to brighten up their day or make them smile, and that is something to be cherished. So go on, bake! I’m not saying you can change the world with it, but brightening someone’s day and making them smile is a good place to start!
– Six ounces unsalted butter, softened – Five ounces light muscovado sugar – Two large eggs, beaten – Two tablespoons golden syrup – One tablespoon milk – Six ounces self-raising flour – Two ounces dark cocoa power (or drinking chocolate) – Two red chillies deseeded and very finely chopped – I use the masquerade chillies from my garden. If you want it a little hotter just leave some of the seeds in them!
For The Chocolate Topping (if you’re feeling decedent)
– Six ounces dark chocolate (above 70% cocoa solids) – Two tablespoons dark muscovado sugar 150ml Soured cream
– Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark four. Line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper cases.
– Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.
– Gradually mix in the beaten eggs and stir in the golden syrup, flour, melted chocolate and chopped chillies. The batter should be runny.
– Spoon into the paper cases till around two thirds full and bake for 20 minutes or until just firm to the touch. Check these with a bamboo skewer if it comes out clean, you’re good to go.
– Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. If the cakes are not cooled the topping will melt.
– To make the chocolate topping: chop or break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a bowl placed over a pan of steaming water, stirring until smooth. Be careful not to burn the chocolate, burnt chocolate tastes awful!
– Remove the bowl to the work surface and beat in the sugar until dissolved, followed by the sour cream. – Spread the topping over the cupcakes