As I explained in this post, I'm an avid reader. And I'm going to start reviewing some of my favourite books of all time on here thereby incorporating two of my favourite things;
However, don't let my enthusiastic book review distract you from today's cupcakes because they're absolutely scrumptious! Even if I do say so myself. My housemate proclaimed them her favourite of all the many, many cupcakes I have made. I chose to be flattered rather than indignantly insulted on behalf of all the other cupcakes :)
The Other Boleyn Girl - Phillipa Gregory
Have you ever read a Jackie Collins book? If you haven’t, do yourself a favour and beg, borrow or steal one. If you have, then you’ll understand what a treat you are in for when I say The other Boleyn Girl is just like a Collins book, except it has more substance, it is set in the 16th century, and it features deviant monarchs and courtiers instead of rock royalty and pop princesses.
This definitely isn’t your typical boy meets girl story. For one, the boy is King Henry VIII - he of the six wives fame – and the girl is Anne Boleyn. The boy is already married to Queen Katherine of Aragon and before falling for Anne, he had an affair with her sister; Mary. Oh, did I forget to mention that Mary was married at the time and her husband all too aware that she was the King’s mistress?
In a nutshell, this novel is the story of Anne’s rise to the throne as Queen of England, told through her sister’s eyes. This is a genius move on Gregory’s part as it gives a personal and spectacularly fascinating (albeit fictional) insight into a historical saga that most of us are at least vaguely familiar with. Anne herself is truly one of the most interesting characters ever to grace the pages of a book. She is extremely intelligent, and the relentless ambition with which she first gets the King’s attention, and the rather crazed dedication with which she holds it for several years while he tries to get a divorce from Katherine – and all without sleeping with the famously lusty King – make for fascinating reading.
Scandalous and enlightening, this is a must-read for anybody who thinks palace life in Tudor England was boring. This is such an interesting and remarkably well written book that you will be torn between devouring it every spare minute you get and savouring every last word because you know that reaching the end of this book might be the last time in a long while you read anything this brilliant. As for me, if it is even half as good as this book, I am planning to make ‘The Tudors’ (also about Henry VIII) my new TV addiction.
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the cupcakes - recipe from Alpine Berry
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
3/4 cup whole milk, hot
113g unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup golden caster sugar
grated zest of 2 limes
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rum (optional)
1 - Preheat oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4 / 350F
2 - Add mint leaves to hot milk. Let steep for 10-15 minutes. Pour milk through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Press liquid from mint leaves. Discard leaves and allow milk to cool slightly
3 - Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
4 - In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, 3 - 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
5 - Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
6 - Mix in lime zest, vanilla and rum (if using)
7 - On a very low speed, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk and ending with flour, mixing until just incorporated
8 - Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and half fill each liner with cake batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 18 - 22 minutes
9 - Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely.
For the frosting
225g softened cream cheese
1/2 cup soft dark brown sugar
2 cups icing sugar
2 cups whipping or double cream
Grated zest of 1 lime
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 - Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, lime juice, lime zest and brown sugar until light and creamy and the sugar completely incorporated.
2 - Add the icing sugar and beat for another couple of minutes
3 - Beat the whipping/double cream in a separate bowl until very thick
4 - Add the cream to the cream cheese mixture and whip for a minute or two until thoroughly combined
5 - Frost cupcakes