Fergal Connolly is a London-based home economist who has worked in restaurants in Europe and the United States. He has worked on such food magazines as Delicious and BBC Good Food. He has also contributed to the Silvana Franco High Low series of Cookbooks as well as TV work.
500 Cupcakes and Muffins is the proof that Fergal not only is a good chef but has a passion for the good things in life. There is something very special about an individual something, made for you alone: cupcakes are the snack of the moment and muffins have found renewed popularity in smart coffee bars throughout the developed world… although I don’t think world development has anything to do with muffins. It’s probably just a coincidence.
Cupcakes have been around for years. Freely available in supermarkets, they were small white sponge cakes in metallic cases with fondant icing that was a good half-inch thick in luminous yellow or orange. There were also chocolate varieties that were so rich that they could reduce to a state of nausea all but the most practised confectionery eater. But now can make light, appropriately sweet and beautifully decorated cupcakes with Fergal’s expert advice.
This is another of the 500 series from Apple Press. They are chunky and attractive and packed with information. 500 Cupcakes and Muffins has lots of pretty pictures by Ian Garlick which illustrate the recipes so well. Plenty of ideas for decoration.
Fergal has a good selection of muffin recipes. These are rather like tall and hearty cupcakes and they can be savoury as well as sweet. Blueberry Muffins are classic, with a purple stain which marbles the light sponge. You can substitute strawberry, raspberry or blackberry if you prefer.
My favourite savoury muffin must surely be the Caramelised Onion Muffin. A simple recipe which has a pleasing hot bite of chilli. Although Fergal suggests Vidalia onion (available in the US) any onion would work. Try a red onion for sweetness. The muffins will store for a couple of days so that makes these ideal for a make-ahead breakfast for guests.
Lime Meringue Cupcakes have lemon meringue pie as their inspiration. The meringue is used instead of icing. Banana Cupcakes are moist and have the advantage of standing up well in the freezer. Lovely additions to the afternoon teatime table.
Cupcakes for Kids is a fun chapter that will encourage you to involve your children. Older kids can mix and bake, and even the smallest ones will be eager to be in close contact with icing and sprinkles. Space-Dust Cupcakes will be popular with anyone who enjoys exploding garnishes.
500 Cupcakes and Muffins isn’t just a book for youth and the calorie-unconscious. There is a chapter on Low Salt Cupcakes and another for Special Diets. There are Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes, Flourless Cupcakes, Egg-free, etc. There’s something here to suit most needs.
This is a book to please the whole family. It’s an ideal gift for anyone new to baking. Those little cakes are less intimidating than a gateau. Experienced cooks will appreciate some new takes on old favourites. Fergal Connolly should be proud of his first book.
500 Cupcakes and Muffins
Author: Fergal Connolly
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018