Comments: Who starts a cupcake book with a recipe for Rhubarb and Vanilla Cupcakes? (Note to Australian pastry chefs: In this country, a cupcake book would generally start with a rich, over-the-top chocolate cupcake.)
Yes, OK, this book is from Australia, and it starts with a chapter of cupcakes that are "simple and healthy," perhaps more like what we might think of as muffins. Many people will love it for these cupcakes that combine various grain flours, fruits, and spices. Others need not worry, though. Among the 130 recipes are many that that are rich, over the top, make good use of chocolate, and are heavily decorated.
The recipes are divided into categories:
- The aforementioned Simple and Healthy – those that aren't too sweet and are "good for breakfast"
- Chocolate cupcakes – some of which feature only white chocolate, so if you're expecting them all to be brown, you may be disappointed
- Children's cupcakes – colorful, with loads of decorations, including a clown, honeybee, soccer ball, Superman, bunny rabbits, etc.
- Party cupcakes – sticking primarily to holidays, including Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, St. Patrick's Day, the new year, as well as birthdays and other celebrations
- Special Moments cupcakes – including those for wedding showers, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, graduations, baby showers, Mother's Day and Father's Day, and other fancy cupcakes where we can't quite figure out the occasion
There is a lot of variety among these recipes – it's not four basic cakes, eight frostings, and 12 decorations that are mixed and matched. There are dozens of cakes, dozens of frostings, and all the decorations are unique. There are lots of fruits and lots of spices, all of which help make these cupcakes unique. Some of the decorations use Australian candies and confections that are impossible or hard to find here, so you may have to substitute now and again, but not often.
Recipes are graded according to difficulty (from 1 to 3), with most in the easy category. Frankly, we didn't think that anything looked outrageously complex; it just appears that some are more time-consuming or use more ingredients.
There are also 10 recipes that are gluten free, five that are dairy free, eight that are egg free, four that are sugar free, and six that are labeled as diabetic friendly. There is some crossover among these recipes, but we didn't find any that fell into more than two "free" categories.
There are a few places where the instructions are not crystal clear. When you spoon in the two batters for the Chocolate Swirl Cupcakes, is one on top of the other or are they side-by-side? The photo doesn't help as there is no swirl visible in the cupcake. Surely it is delicious, but you may have to wing it a little bit (but that's what home cooks and bakers do all the time, isn’t it?)
You will need a kitchen scale. Most measurements are in the volume quantities that we're used to (and metric quantities that much of the rest of the world uses), but occasionally a little measurement in ounces creeps in.