“Interesting.” This descriptor, as you probably all know, is the death toll sound for the experimental baker. It is typically used as a polite, indirect means of letting you know your confections haven’t come out of the oven looking or tasting as pretty as you may have hoped. However, it’s technical dictionary definition is a lot more complimentary to the adventurous amongst us – it’s synonymous with engaging, exciting, attention-catching and mentally pleasing.
I got a lot of “interesting” when I handed out these cakes to try – almost always rapidly followed up with wide-eyed confusion when I reacted with concern (as you do!) and expansions – “not in a bad way! But these don’t taste like I thought cupcakes tasted.” “They’re weird, but really good – can I say that?” and the most common – “what did you put in them? They’re good but there’s something I can’t figure out” … (tip: when you make these, tell nobody the secret ingredient ’til they finish. Spinach puts off many a conventional cake lover!)
Then I tried them later that evening (I was busy trying these at the time I served them – double-batch cooking is the devil). And I could see exactly what everyone meant. They’re not cupcake fare – they’re much stranger, and that’s in no way a bad thing. They’re dense, chewy and dark, with the bare minimum of sweet – but it’s good. The icing tops it all off in a neon-green, sweetly balanced manner.
I made these thanks to this recipe from Stef’s inimitable, amazing and definitely interesting Cupcake Project Blog. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating – go check this site out. You’ll find a very entertaining way to spend an hour! The below recipe makes sixteen cakes. These will only last 48 hours at most, so ensure you have a crowd of adventurous people ready to try!
Ingredients – For Green Tree Juice:
2 Big Handfuls Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
245g Good Greek Yogurt
1/2 Ripe Banana
7 Chunks Fresh Pineapple
125ml Coconut Milk (I like this stuff)
125ml Pineapple Juice
Directions for Green Tree Juice:
Pile all the ingredients in a blender, and blend, really. I had to get my little sister to teach me how to use a blender for this, I’ll admit. It was good fun though! Blend until totally smooth – time will depend on your blender strength, I gave mine about three minutes. This recipe makes enough to give you a glass of leftover juice. This is very useful for freaking people out with.
Ingredients – For Cupcakes:
200g Plain Flour (I am having a fad phase and use this stuff at the moment)
1 & 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Bicarb of Soda
100g Golden Caster Sugar
175g Honey (This is lovely)
2 Large Eggs
100g Sunflower Oil
200ml Green Tree Juice (From above recipe)
2 Tsp Green Food Colour
Directions For Cupcakes:
Preheat your oven – 180 for fan haters, 160 for fan takers. Line cupcake trays. I used some like these because I was hoping the colour would offset the green! Mix your flour, baking powder and bicarb in a large measuring jug (really). Stir in the honey, sugar and eggs, and allow to combine. Next, stir in the oil, colour & Green Tree juice, and re-combine. You’ll notice now that this is an incredibly loose, wet mix. Avoid the horrors of spooning – use that measure jug and pour the batter directly into each cupcake liner, to about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes are springy. Remove from oven and set cakes on wire racks to cool. I’ve just learned that apparently, if you leave your cupcakes in the tins, the heat from the metal may overcook them – so never leave them in the tins to cool!
Ingredients – For Green Tree Icing:
240g Butter (Very, very soft!)
375g Confectioner’s Sugar
100ml Green Tree Juice
1 Tsp Green Food Colour
Sprinkles, for added photogenicity
Directions For Icing:
Beat the butter with an electric mixer in a mixing bowl for about three minutes, until it’s honestly as soft and as fluffy as you can get it, which takes me about three to four minutes. This step is really vital, and don’t scrimp, as I’ve found if you do (and unfortunately, I definitely have) the result is buttercream that never quite fully combines and gets ‘bitty’ and icky at great speed once on your cakes. When you’ve done that, add the icing sugar part by part and keep going with the mixer, adding the juice & food colour finally. Lastly, add in the juice and beat thoroughly til smooth and combined.
There’s a really good walkthrough for how to assemble an icing pipe here, as part of a post on icing cakes (keep posted for my future plans regarding cake…I’m excited!) I wish I had read it before I made and photographed these! Next time, right?
So…put on this music (Thom Yorke just seems like a Green Tree cake kinda man). Smear your fully cool green cakes with a dab of icing, then pipe an icing tower onto them. Sprinkle to taste. Serve and surprise yourself and others. Enjoy!