The King of all Cupcakes: Apple Crumble Cupcakes

I've been trying out recipes from a new cookbook: Cake Days by
The Hummingbird Bakery
. Not particularly English, but tasty and damn good-looking nonetheless. I've been to their shop on Portobello Road a few times and it's usually stuffed to the brim, full of hungry cake-lovers. A good sign, surely!

These cupcakes are absolutely fantasmagorical; there's no better word for them!
Seriously, if I had my own dessert restaurant (one can dream...), this cupcake would be my main course. Sweet cinnamon sponge, a delicately tangy apple centre cushioned by a swirl of custard cream and the final finale, the salty oat crunch of the crumble topping. A textural masterpiece!

The recipe is relatively plain sailing, the only tricksy part is whipping the custard into a non-lumpy submission whilst it boils. It is also somewhat time consuming. So do take note if you're all post-haste this evening!

The Hummingbird Bakery's
Apple Crumble Cupcakes
Makes 12-16 

80g Unsalted Butter
280g Caster Sugar
240g Plain Flour
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
2 Large Eggs
240ml Whole Milk
1/4 tsp Vanilla Essence

The Filling:
5 Eating Apples (I used some old Cox's we had in)
30g Unsalted Butter, softened
50g Soft Light Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon 

The Custard Topping:
500ml Whole Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
5 Large Egg Yolks
200g Caster Sugar
30g Plain Flour
30g Cornflour
200ml Double Cream

The Crumble:
55g Plain Flour
55g Rolled Oats
Pinch of Ground Cinnamon
55g Unsalted Butter
40g Soft Light Brown Sugar

Anything else:
A group of friends with rumbly tummies

Start by preheating your oven to 190°C (375°F) and line a muffin tin with muffin cases. We're looking to make about 14 but see how far your batter stretches. Find two baking sheets and leave them on the side for later.

We'll start by making the yummy apple filling. Peel, core & chop your apples into rough 1cm pieces, add the 50g of sugar and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and coat the apple pieces in this. Melt the 30g of butter over a low heat and add the apple mixture. Cook until soft (but not mushy!) When it's warm & cooked, try your best not to eat the entire mix and set aside to cool while we make the sponge.

Using a handheld whisk, or mixer (The Hummingbird Bakery seem to insist on this) mix together the 80g of butter,  280g of caster sugar, 240g plain flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp cinnamon until the butter has dispersed and you're left with something that looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Whisk together the 2 eggs, 240ml milk and 1/4 tsp vanilla essence in a separate bowl, and then add gradually to the dry mixture. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure all the dry ingredients are mixed in.

Fill up your muffin cases with the now smooth batter. Aim to fill them two-thirds of the way up. Place 2 tbps of the apple mixture into the center of the sponge mixture. Don't worry- it will sink as the cupcake bakes.

Bake the cupcakes for around 18-20 mins, or until the sponge bounces back upon touching. You can also test by using a skewer, if it comes out clean then the cake is done! My cupcakes took around 30 minutes because I used muffin cases, and also because my oven is a bit shit. I find it best to speak perfectly bluntly when insulting one's kitchen apparatus.

So, we're onto the final stretch now: making the custard. Heat up your 500ml of milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence on a low heat. Whilst this is slowly heating, mix together 30g of cornflour, 30g plain flour, 200g caster sugar, and 5 egg yolks to make a paste-consistency. If it seems too dry add 1tbsp of the hot milk.
When the milk has reached boiling point, add 4-5 tbsp of the milk to the paste, then add the paste mixture to the milk in the pan and place back over the heat. Now is the time to whisk like crazy (or excuse yourself from bicep training just this once, and use an electric whisk instead) as the mixture thickens. Once the mixture is boiling for a second time, keep on the heat for a further minute and then remove. Spread the custard over one of the baking trays we got out earlier (preparation is a baker's best friend) so the mixture will cool quickly.

As for the crumble, mix the 55g plain flour, 55g rolled oats and cinnamon in a bowl. Rub in the 55g of butter using your palms and fingertips to create crumbly consistency. Finally add the sugar and mix in well.

Crumble the mixture on to the baking sheet and oven bake for around 15 minutes, checking repeatedly to give it a poke and a stir here and there. Then take out and cool.

Whip up your 200ml of double cream with a little caster sugar (optional), until it is quite firm. Next add the cooled custard mixture and mix, making sure there are no lumps.

To finish, smother the cupcakes with the custard cream and liberally sprinke the tops with crumble. Now feast!

Le fin!

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