While it is great to bake the classical established cake flavours it is always nice to break with tradition once in a while. Having met our friends at Western Herd Brewing Company from Co. Clare, I got the opportunity to use their amazing product. Sure craft beer is obviously amazing to drink but, the citrus undertones of the Indian Pale Ale (IPA) to the chocolatey notes of the Red Nitro beer work beautifully with the sweetness of cake.
I choose to use Western Herd's IPA, Blue Jumper, because of its grapefruit and hops flavours that make it a wonderful example of an IPA.
This was my first attempt at making craft beer cupcakes so, I wanted to make something a little bit different. After some research I settled on Strawberry & Lime to pair with the IPA. I love strawberry and I love lime so why not!
Bare in mind that this was a little experimental project so , I did everything to taste, and as Blue Jumper is rare here in Cork ( hopefully not for much longer :) ), I had to use it sparingly. I started by hulling the strawberries and quartering them. I then marinated them in freshly squeezed lime juice and ,of course, some Blue Jumper. While they were soaking up the lime and IPA goodness, I set about making the cupcakes using my trusty vanilla cupcake recipe and added a little of Blue Jumper to the mix. Be careful of curdling or your batter becoming too liquid or slack as your cake will loose it's fluffy lightness. Once they were mixed I placed the gorgeous plump strawberries in the bottom of the cupcake cases. I then topped them off with the fluffy cake mixture. Once baked and still a little warm I brushed the tops of each of the cupcakes with a sugar syrup infused with Blue Jumper.
I then made my favourite, gorgeously light and smooth Italian meringue buttercream to top the wonderful cupcakes with. To try and bring out the beer flavour more I added what was left of the strawberry, lime and IPA marinade to the buttercream.
What did I learn? If I had more of the wonderful Blue Jumper I would have also fed the cupcakes with the IPA before icing them and I would also have added more to the batter. This would have brought out the beer flavour more against the sweetness of the cake. Also, next time, once baked, I would fill the centre of the cupcakes with a strawberry purée filling to give a more intense fruity beer flavour. That being said they were still wonderfully delicious and I have another excuse to make them again.or maybe with grapefruit or carrot flavours next time.. who knows xx