Faraway Tree Honey Pop Cakes
“Where’s our food, Joe? Let’s ask Silky to have some.’
Silky was pleased. She sat there brushing her beautiful, golden hair and ate sandwiches with them. She brought out a tin of Pop Cakes, which were lovely. As soon as you bit into them they went pop! and you suddenly found your mouth filled with new honey from the middle of the little cakes. Frannie took seven, one after the other, for she was rather greedy.”
“Come on,” said Moonface. “Come and eat a Google Bun and see what you think of it.”
Soon they were all sitting on the broad branches outside Moonface’s house, eating Pop Biscuits and Google Buns. The buns were most peculiar. They each had a very large currant in the middle, and this was filled with sherbet. So when you got to the currant and bit it the sherbet frothed out and filled your mouth with fine bubbles that tasted delicious. The children got a real surprise when they bit their currants, and Moonface almost fell off the branch with laughing.” (Enid Blyton, The Magic Faraway Tree)
It’s hard to put my finger on what was so exciting about the Magic Faraway Tree and why I read it a gazillion times. One – I like climbing trees, two there was magical stuff in this tree and not just irate squirrels and fungus. As well as the magical lands at the top of the tree, the tree itself was packed full of strange creatures and equally strange foods that fizzed and popped and turned you green, burnt your mouth or made you fly. In fact a lot of children’s foods in books were deliciously dangerous (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a Health and Safety nightmare). In comparison, liquorice and refresher bars from the corner shop were boring and completely uneventful.
I still am very drawn to trees with fruit. I remember going to my Grandma’s house in Florida for the first time and her garden was a veritable wonderland. Trees groaning with ripe plump avocados, mangos, oranges and grapefruits. Coming from rainy England, where grapefruits were bitter and frightening, these sun ripened fruit were warm and friendly and tasted of the sun. I spent an entire afternoon up a very tall grapefruit tree, surrounded by these yellow globes of loveliness, attempting to poke straws into them to suck out the juice. My uncle only managed to coax me down out of the tree after promising to make grapefruit lemonade to go with the Jamaican jerk chicken he’d buried in a fire pit in the front yard.
The menu in the Faraway tree is marvellous. Everything is either shocking or popping. Moonface’s Google buns are with sherbet filled currants and toffee shocks that swell up in your mouth until they are about to burst.
Lemon Pop Cake Recipe
This recipe combines everything I like about cakes, sweets and the Faraway Tree. I’ve adapted this from Silky the Fairy’s recipe as hers were filled with honey. These ones are filled with home-made lemon curd. Make sure you have got plenty of Fizz Wiz, sherbet and lots of lemons on hand to make these little cakes.
Lemon Cupcakes (Makes 12)
125g butter (room temperature – if you live in Scotland make this warmer that room temperature)
125g caster sugar
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 beaten eggs
150g plain flour
1/4 tsp of baking powder
Fizz Wiz popping candy
Lemon curd filling
grated rind of 2 large lemons
Juice of two lemons
10fl oz water
3 tbsps cornflour
2 egg yolks
Vanilla Buttercream icing
200g icing sugar (sifted)
100g salted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsps milk or cream
To make the cupcakes:
Start by making your cupcakes. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 or (180F). Get your paper cases ready (I used silicon cases). Put the butter and sugar together into a heavy bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add in your eggs one by one. If it looks as if it’s about to curdle (look like scrambled eggs) add in a pinch of flour. When they are beaten into the butter and sugar mixture gradually sift in your flour and baking powder. Use a spatula and fold into the mixture. (to fold, run your spatula around the bold and cut down the middle, then turn that half of the mixture over onto the other half. This way you should delicately mix the flour in without losing the fluffy consistency and air that you have created).
Use two metal spoons, one to scoop up the mixture and the other to push it into the individual cake cases. Put into the oven for between 10 to 15 minutes. If you put a cocktail stick in the middle it should come out dry.
To make the lemon curd centre:
(The trick to making this is have all your ingredients ready before you start)
Mix the cornflour and sugar with a bit of your water until it makes a smooth paste. Add the rest of the water to a saucepan and the add in the grated lemon rind. Let this come to the boil and then simmer for a few minutes. Pour the hot lemon over the cornflour mixture and stir. Pour this back into the saucepan and keep whisking and stirring. Let this boil and bubble slightly. Take off the heat and add in your eggs, then your butter and finally the lemon juice. Keep whisking until smooth. Add more sugar if this is too tart. When your cupcakes are ready and have cooled, cut a small circle out of the centre of each of them and drop in a dollop of the lemon curd.
To make the buttercream icing:
Put your butter into a mixer and whip until creamy. Gradually sift in a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar and mix. Add in a teaspoon of milk, the vanilla and more icing sugar and mix again. Keep doing this until you reach a thick but creamy consistency. If you are going to use colouring – use a colour paste – rather than liquid colour as this ruins the consistency of your icing. Sprinkle the top of all your cakes with some Fizz Wiz popping candy (I also mixed in a bit of the Fizz Wiz into the icing mixture as well). When ready, pipe over your cupcakes.
Sprinkle with raspberry and orange sherbet crystals. I’ve also used some Strawberry Milkshake jelly beans.