23 Aug 2011

Cupcakes of Knowledge (for 'Shades of Grey')

"That's good wisdom."
"It was good jam. And Jam is Knowledge" (p.234)

If, like Eddie Russett, you need to bargain for answers to life's mysteries with an Apocryphal Man, it's worth having some loganberry jam to hand. And it has to be loganberry. The closest I could find was lingonberry (from Ikea). Perhaps if the Apocryphal Man was in a generous mood he'd grant me the answer to half a question and a juicy snippet in exchange for a jar since it's a close cousin to the loganberry. Also, in order to symbolise the friendship between Eddie and the Apocryphal Man, I decided to fill them with custard because Eddie appreciates a properly hued custard almost as much as he appreciates a well managed queuing system.

How would you interpret Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde? All cakes and comments welcome.

Cupcakes of Knowledge 
(Custard and Lingonberry Jam Filled Cupcakes)

Makes 16-18 cupcakes

For the Victoria Sponge: (from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver) 
225g (1cup) butter
225g (1cup + 2tbsp) caster sugar
4 eggs
225g (1 3/4 cups) self-raising flour (or plain flour with 3tsp baking powder)
1 lemon, zest only 

For the Filling:
1 small pot (150g / 5oz) ready-made custard
1 jar lingonberry jam 
Icing sugar to decorate.

Pre-heat oven to 190*C (375*F)
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well between each addition. Fold in the flour and lemon zest until you have a smooth batter.
Divide the batter evenly into muffin tins lined with paper cases and bake for 15min or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before filling.

To fill:
Cut the top off each cupcake and use a melon baller to scoop out a bit of each base. Spoon custard into the hole and spread a thin layer over the cut part of the base, so the two parts will stick back together again. Then take a small cookie cutter (I used a star shape) and cut out the center of each cupcake top. Place the cupcake tops back onto the bases and fill the cut-out with jam. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

I actually made another version of these but wasn't happy with them as I used store-bought cupcakes. Never Again.  As you can see, they seem knowledgeable enough perched on those philosophy books, but they turned out to be impostors. Like a mediocre self-help book, they looked appealing in their wrappers but one bite was all it took to realise the inside was dry and lacked substance, made palatable only by their sugary coating.

And the custard icing is delicious, by the way. It also happens to be the middle layer of My Great Grandmother's Nanaimo Bars. So, if you already have some cupcakes to hand (especially chocolate ones) this icing will go down a treat with or without a dollop of jam on top.

P.S. I know I said I was putting all baking on hold until the 10k race had been run (less than 3 weeks away!) but I just had to post these. I tried to cut corners reasoning that if I bought the cupcakes and decorated them I'd be torturing myself less than baking them from scratch and filling the house with their wonderful scent. In the end, I managed to find some super strength willpower hiding at the back of my cupboard and made both versions without so much as licking a spoon. I only hope I have enough left over for those cookies I'm planning on making next...

Recipe, Dessert , Cupcakes, Lingonberry, Custard


  1. lingonberry is close enough to loganberry for me when I look at those stunning cupcakes. Very nice.

  2. Thanks, they were great fun to make!

  3. elisabeth@foodandthriftfinds28 August 2011 at 17:23

    Love the cupcakes, the jam, and the artistic photos!

  4. Thanks Elisabeth. I'm quite fond of the main photo myself. It was a bit of a happy accident with the lighting.

  5. As usual I'm not familiar with the book but the cup cakes certainly look delicious.

  6. Cheers Bro, I think you might like this book actually. Here's a quote from the back of the book: "If George Orwell had tripped over a paint pot or Douglas Adams favoured colour swatches instead of towels...neither of them would have come up with anything as eccentrically brilliant"

  7. With these amazing looking cakes I'm not surprised your considering Monsieur Dukan!! My sister in law was treated to a Nanaimo bar last week when visiting some friends up in Dundee. She makes them whenever her uncle visits as a taste of BC. Long time for me before I can have that many carbs in one sitting!!

  8. Hi Sally! Yup - Nanaimo bars would be a diet buster for sure. The memory of them, however, is calorie free. =)


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