Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Vegan MoFo - Irn Bru Cupcakes

Another in my irregular series on Scottish-ish foods, I have made Irn Bru Cupcakes.  And what a bloody saga!  But more of that coming up.  I should say right at the top that, when I went to document said saga, I discovered that my camera was dead (I put in brand new batteries and it told me to change the batteries and then went black), so I apologise for the lack of pictures pretty much for the rest of MoFo (unless I manage to replace the camera).

For those who don't know, Irn Bru (pronounced like iron brew) is an orange soda that isn't orange flavoured (though Wikipedia claims it's vaguely citrus).  I think it kinda tastes like Big Red, the cream soda that doesn't taste like cream soda, except a little milder - maybe because it's orange instead of red.  It's native to Scotland, and in fact is the best-selling soda in Scotland, ahead even of Coke.  Though it's difficult to verify and there are a lot of differing views, Googling every listed ingredient has made me 99% sure it's vegan.

I was inspired to make Irn Bru cupcakes by Panda With Cookie's delicious Cheerwine cookies (unfortunately currently unavailable since she's recently moved and hasn't set up her baking again yet).  I thought about sending her some Irn Bru cookies that were similar to her Cheerwine cookies, but I decided to experiment with cupcakes first because they're easier (I'm really not much of a cookie baker).

I started out trying to combine concepts from the Golden Vanilla Cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and this non-vegan recipe for Irn Bru cupcakes from London Baking.  I basically tried to veganize the second recipe based on the first.  I replaced the margarine with oil and the buttermilk with soy milk curdled with apple cider vinegar.  It didn't work.  At. All.  The batter was WAY too runny, but I baked it anyway, and my cupcakes came out concave and gooey.  I gave it another try, decreasing the liquid and increasing the dry ingredients, and the cakes worked fine.

Then I moved on to the frosting.  My idea was to reduce the remaining soda to syrup and make a buttercream a la the raspberry buttercream in VCTOTW.  I cooked it down for a good hour or more, and it didn't seem to get any thicker, so I bunged in some sugar.  It still didn't look thick enough, so I bunged in some more sugar.  Then it started to really thicken.  I took it off the heat to let it cool, and within 5 minutes, I had Irn Bru candy.  It was not gonna become frosting.

In the end, I poured some soda in a bowl and left it out overnight to flatten and just replaced the milk in the Vegan Fluffy Buttercream recipe.  But that recipe doesn't really require a lot of milk, so the flavour was really subtle.  Overall, the cupcakes didn't have a very strong Irn Bru flavour, but they were good, and you could tell they weren't plain vanilla.

Irn Bru Cupcakes

  • 3/4 c milk
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 c oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 c plain flour
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 c Irn Bru
Preheat the oven to 350F/175C and line a muffin tin with liners.

In a large bowl, combine the milk and acv and let sit for about 5 minutes to curdle.  Add in the sugar, oil, and vanilla and mix well.  Combine all dry ingredients and sift into the wet ingredients, then mix to combine.  Add in the Irn Bru (it'll get really fizzy!) and mix to combine.

Pour the batter evenly into the muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

When the muffins are completely cool, frost with Vegan Fluffy Buttercream with the milk replaced by Irn Bru.

If I try this (or the cookies) again and manage to get the frosting right, I'll write it up in another post.

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