As any good fan knows, the Season Three premiere of Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey airs tomorrow night. As a hard-core Anglophile and longtime Masterpiece fan, there is no way I would not know this. I know my geek is showing, but Masterpiece is, hands down, my favorite show. I’ve been watching Masterpiece Theatre almost since it’s beginning. Sunday nights during my high school years, when all my friends were watching The Six Million Dollar Man, I was glued to Upstairs Downstairs (the original series) and Lillie. And I’ve been watching ever since. And like just everybody else in America, I have become mesmerized by Downton Abbey. (Will Matthew and Mary finally say “I do”?) And so, to celebrate the season premiere, I thought it would be fun to create a little cupcake dedicated to all Anglophiles and Downton Abbey fans.
Last summer, we watched the opening ceremonies of the London Summer Olympics by having our own little Anglo-American celebration, complete with classic pub fare. The menu included Scotch Eggs, Mushy Peas and a refreshing summer cocktail called Pimm’s – lemonade, Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur, mint, orange, strawberry and…cucumber! I know, a little odd, but absolutely delicious. I’m not absolutely certain what Pimm’s is exactly, but they have an interesting website at http://www.anyoneforpimms.com that talks about the liqueur and gives recipes for some yummy cocktails. (Personally, I can’t wait to try the Pimm’s Royale- and use up some of that champagne from my last posting). So I thought a Pimm’s cupcake would be fitting for this occasion.
A quick search soon revealed that just about all recipes were from the U.K., called for some slightly different ingredients and used British measurements. A challenge, to be sure, but a fun one and I was able to find the ingredients at our local mega-grocery store. I also found a great conversion site, http://www.traditionaloven.com, to convert the grams into cups.
The recipe is one I adapted from http://www.whatwouldnigellado.com. (What a great name for a blog – take a look, she has a lot of fun posts on there). I decided to make mini cupcakes that would look lovely as apart of a traditional afternoon tea, and these little gems turned out perfectly. Not quite a sponge cake, but not as dense as a traditional American cupcake either. I was just delighted with the results.
So pop a batch in the oven, brew a pot of Earl Grey, and take out your best Wedgewood china. Invite your BFFs over and enjoy a cuppa with Lady Violet, Cora, Mary and her sisters. Cheers!
Makes about 24 mini-cupcakes. I’ve posted the original recipe with the conversions in parentheses.
125 g (1/2 cup) soft unsalted butter
125 g (heaping 1/2 cup) caster sugar
2 tablespoons Pimm’s No. 1
125 g (1 cup) self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons semi-skimmed (I used 1%) milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line mini muffin tin with mini cupcake liners.
Cream together the butter, sugar and Pimm’s for approximately 7 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix for an additional 2 minutes.
Combine the flour and baking powder and add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix for 1 minute more.
Fill the mini tins with just about 1 tablespoon of batter. (I was able to get exactly 24 mini cakes).
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched and toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.
Pimm’s Buttercream Frosting
125 g (1/2 cup) softened unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Pimm’s No. 1
150 g (1 1/4 cups) icing (powdered) sugar
pink food coloring
mint leaves for garnish
Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and Pimm’s. Beat for several minutes until creamy and fluffy, adding a little more sugar or Pimm’s until desired consistency is reached. Stir in food coloring, if desired. Frost and garnish with mint. Enjoy!