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Mamma J's Cupcakes.

You're probably wondering who the hell Mamma J's Cupcakes is? I don't blame you, it's not really a brand. In fact it is my mother's little side project and hobby that she only really indulges in for her friends and family. She has been baking cakes for a number of years now, my earliest memory of them being the triple layer chocolate cake she would make me for my camping trips with Cubs and Scouts. Everyone wanted a slice of this cake as it was packed with chocolate including chocolate sponge, chocolate chips, chocolate filling and icing and then covered in sprinkles. No one ever finished it, but it tasted so good that you had to at least try!

These days she has moved on from that cake and improved her sponge recipe - now a light and airy density with a velvet soft texture. She explores different flavours including rocky road, carrot cake and banoffee and even her homemade icing has taken on different tastes in the form of mint, hazelnut and cream cheese, to name a few. It's not just cupcakes that my mother makes however, it's whole cakes, birthday cakes and giant cupcakes which often get a decoration adorned sparkly makeover. Some cakes have even taken a novelty turn as she has practised her decorating skills, but I have always stood by the fact that her cupcakes are the absolute best.

Baking is one of those things that people often associate to that homely feeling or smell and I guess I am lucky to have grown up with that. Anyway, I thought it would be nice to ask my mum for a few tips on how to bake a perfect sponge, for my food lover readers out there!

Hi mum, thanks for helping me out with this post on my blog, my first question for you is what tips would you give someone who is just starting out in baking?

First off, make sure you follow the recipe that you are using and when it says beat the butter and sugar together make sure you do this until it is really light and creamy. I use a food mixer to make my cake batter, but you can mix it by hand it just might take awhile. I also find that using butter that has been sat at room temperature works best to make a light sponge. I would also say to add your eggs one by one, don't put them all in at once.

You use a food mixer, any tips that you can give for that?

It usually states in recipes to fold the flour into the egg butter and sugar mix by hand and then put this into your cake tray, however I find that you get a lighter cake if you first fold in by hand and then allow the mixer to beat it for 3-5 minutes before pouring it into the cake tin.

You said before that you should follow the recipe, but you sort of contradicted yourself there!

*laughs* Yes, I know. Follow the recipe in terms of the amounts!

Anything else that you can think of that helps get a lighter sponge?

No that's it, that is how I always bake them. I think that if you follow someone's recipe and way of baking and that works for them, then it should work for you.

Fair enough, so why do you think some people's sponge comes out stodgy or a bit heavy?

I honestly don't know, I think it might be that they aren't beating the ingredients together properly or for a long enough time. It really does make a difference.

You mostly use buttercream icing for your cakes, so what would be your best tip for making it?

You have to make sure you are using butter and not margarine and that the butter is soft when you use it. Beat the butter first until it is really soft and creamy and then add icing sugar. Mix it by hand first and then beat it in the mixer if you have one. I would recommend gel colouring over bottled liquid colouring as liquid makes the mixture wetter and you end up using more icing sugar hence why sometimes it is too sweet. Gel is really good as you only use a small amount and keeps the consistency.

I know that you use a Kenwood mixer (it is mine after all), but can you use a handheld mixer, will it have the same effect?

Yes, that would do the same job!

Anything else you want to add?

I always use vanilla in my sponge and buttercream, whether you are making flavoured cupcakes or not use vanilla as it makes it taste even better!

So there you have it, a few tips from someone who has been baking for quite awhile now and I hope it helps! So many people tell me how much they love my mum's cupcakes (even those that don't like cake) and it would good for her to be able to make a living from her skill. As I said before this is currently just a side project for my mum but hopefully one day she can turn it into a business and when she does, I will let you all know! Do you have any other tips for baking a good sponge? Why not comment below!