Follow the latest goings on with our blog and find answers from the Hummingbird Bakers to your most frequently asked baking questions. Our FAQs are updated regularly, so keep checking back for updates!
Unfortunately we can’t answer individual queries via the blog. Baking has many variables and it takes practise. Even at our bakeries, it doesn’t always go perfectly, so don’t feel disheartened if it doesn’t work first time. Making the perfect cake or cupcake is both a science and a skill – it’s not easy being this tasty.
Apple Blossom Cupcakes
Where can I find Apple Iced Tea for the Apple Blossom Cupcakes?
We suggest sourcing this online. Turkish Apple Tea is a popular beverage and you may find more stockist results when searching the internet. Certain supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s have been known to stock it.
Apple Iced Tea has sugar in it. Will this ruin the recipe and make it too sweet?
No, the recipe takes this into account and is correct as written.
I added whipped cream to make the caramel custard topping but it’s too runny. What can I do?
Chilling it in the refrigerator may help, but it is one of the more complex recipe steps and needs to be followed to the letter. Also, make sure your kitchen isn’t too hot.
Chocolate and Coffee Loaf
The recipe calls for brewed coffee. How much water should I use?
Make up a cup of coffee as you would normally to drink and ensure it is strong if that’s what the recipe calls for. Allow it to cool and then use the required amount in the recipe. This should be done to taste and can be made as strong as you like, but be sure to use the same amount of liquid.
I can’t taste a lot of coffee. Should I have added more?
This loaf isn’t meant to have a strong coffee taste and there is only one tablespoon of coffee in there. It is really to add a little depth to the chocolate. If you prefer a stronger coffee taste, brew a much stronger cup of coffee. Adding a handful of coffee flavoured chocolate chips or chocolate coffee beans will bring out that coffee flavour and add some interesting texture!
Chocolate Fondant Cupcakes
The frosting/filling isn’t thickening up. Do I need to wait longer?
You can whisk it with your mixer, chill it for a little while longer and then re-whip.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
It says to add peanut butter to the marshmallow filling but it is not included in the ingredients list. How much do I use?
You can omit the peanut butter in the filling, this is now being clarified. Apologies for the confusion. However, if you do want to put peanut butter into the filling then you can put about one tablespoon.
Cola Cupcakes/Lemonade Cupcakes
What is the syrup you use in the Lemonade Cupcakes and the Cola Cupcakes?
We recommend using a concentrated syrup used to make carbonated drinks, such as Soda Stream.
Where can I purchase the syrup for the Lemonade Cupcakes or the Cola Cupcakes?
We can’t recommend local stockists as this will depend on your location, but you can purchase Soda Stream syrups via the brand’s website and in various homeware and food stores across the UK.
Can I use a different flavoured syrup to make cupcakes?
If the quantities are the same it is likely to work, but it will still be an experiment. We can only comment on recipe combinations we have tried in our own bakeries.
Cranberry Magic Bars
The recipe calls for unsweetened condensed milk. Is this the same as evaporated milk?
When it comes to their use in baking, unsweetened condensed milk is the same as evaporated milk. Our Cake Days recipe book asks for ‘unsweetened condensed milk’ but this purely down to the house style of our publishers and both terms are widely used and interchangeable.
Malted Chocolate Cupcakes
Can I use Horlicks or Ovaltine in my Malted Chocolate Cupcakes?
Horlicks is malted milk powder and should work fine, but be careful not to use powders with added cocoa such as Ovaltine as this isn’t pure malted milk as required by the recipe.
Marshmallow Butterscotch Bars
My butterscotch mixture burnt. What am I doing wrong?
Sugar is difficult to work with and caramel can quickly go from glossy and golden to dark and burnt in an instant. You can purchase a sugar thermometer from all good cookware shops which will help you to keep an eye on the temperature. Once you have practised making it a few times you will start to get a feel for when the sugar is starting to reach the right stage.
Mixed Berry Muffins
The recipe says to use blueberries and raspberries. Can I use different berries?
If you want to try other berries you can but be aware that different fruits have a different water content. For example, strawberries have a very high water content and this might mean the muffins don’t hold quite the same shape and height.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
For questions relating to red food colouring, please see the section ‘Food Colouring’.
My Red Velvet Cupcakes are turning out brown. What have I done wrong?
Using ‘natural’ red food colouring will often cause the sponge to come out orangey brown in colour rather than red. Make sure you use a good quality red food colouring that isn’t natural. A variety of colour gels, pastes and liquids can be found online.
My sponges are coming out with high peaks. Is this to be expected?
Yes, Red Velvet Cupcakes are notorious for rising into high peaks. If you wish you can use a sharp serrated knife to remove the peaks before frosting, or you can simply frost around the peaks. The discarded peaks can even be whizzed up in a food processor and used to make the Red Velvet crumbs used to decorate your cupcakes.
Do you use white wine vinegar in your Red Velvet Cupcakes?
We use distilled white vinegar in our shops when making our Red Velvet sponge (this contains no alcohol).
Can I use a different kind of white vinegar instead?
If you have white malt vinegar or white cider vinegar, they can all be used instead of white wine vinegar. We recommend following all our recipes as instructed, but this is a relatively small substitute. Whatever you do, don’t use a dark vinegar as this will affect the taste.
What’s the difference between the regular recipe and the Italian Meringue recipe?
There are extra steps to create the Italian Meringue. It requires you to cook the sugar giving a sturdier and firmer meringue. This also means that the egg whites are no longer raw, but the process is more advanced.
I’m having problems with the Italian Meringue version of the S’Moreanne Cupcakes. Can you clarify how I’m supposed to add the sugar to the eggs?
Whisk the egg whites until they are just about to become soft peak. Once the sugar is at the correct temperature (a sugar thermometer is handy), check to see whether it is at soft ball stage. Take it off the heat and then whisk the egg whites on a slow speed. Add the hot sugar in a steady stream. Then whisk on a high speed until the mixture is very white and glossy. When it reaches this point, it’s ready!
The recipe says to whip the egg whites until ‘foamy’. What does this mean?
This is the stage just before they become soft peaks. Soft peaks, as opposed to stiff peaks, are when the whisk can be lifted out of the eggs forming a peak which folds softly over on itself. Stiff peaks will hold themselves firmly and are perfect for making meringues.
Where can I find the violet essence for Violet Cupcakes?
Violet flavoured cupcakes are a suggested variation and weren’t designed to be a separate recipe as the ingredients can be hard to source in the UK. Violet essence can be expensive, but a small bottle will last you a long time. If any ingredients are out of your price range, we don’t recommend our bakers going out of pocket to purchase supplies unless they wish to!