Christmas Cupcakes

Here are some cute, Christmassy cupcake ideas, which will serve as a good alternative to mince pies at any Christmas gathering!

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For these cakes I used a basic, chocolate cupcake recipe, and a basic buttercream, which I coloured in Christmassy red and green. For a basic chocolate cake recipe, click here! Buttercream is very easy to make- simply mix 140g of butter with 280g of icing sugar, and a splash of milk to loosen the mixture. For a really white and fluffy icing, beat the butter and sugar together for at least five minutes.

For all of these cupcakes, start with a base layer of white buttercream. It doesn’t have to be spread perfectly, as it is going to get covered up anyway! 

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Christmas trees: 

Put a star shaped tip on a piping bag, and fill it with green buttercream.

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Begin by piping a disc of little stars on the base of the cupcake, then a slightly smaller disc on top.

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Keep piping discs, gradually getting smaller, until they begin to resemble a three-dimensional Christmas tree.

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Place one final dollop of icing on top.

Decorate with either small dabs of red buttercream, or small round sprinkles, like baubles. This is a lot of icing to eat- its true! But these cakes are, unsurprisingly, very popular with children- or anyone with a sweet tooth!

Wreaths:

Use the same, star shaped nozzle as the one used for the Christmas trees.

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Pipe small, star shaped blobs all around the edge of the cupcake.

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Using a different piping bag, or the same one with a different tip, pipe a bow out of red buttercream. For this you need a straight, small nozzle, which will give you a straight line.

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Holly:

Using a plain nozzle, to give a straight, fairly thin line, pipe the outline of a holly leaf on one side of the cupcake.

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Do the same on the other side of the cupcake, so you have two similar looking leaves.

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Colour the leaves in using more green icing.

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Use the same plain nozzle to create red berries out of small blobs of red buttercream.

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Enjoy, and have a lovely Christmas!

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xxR

Ginger Cakes-in-Cans with Spicy Ginger Icing

We are inching towards Christmas. We are inching with the days. We are in fact scarily close with the days.

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We are inching with this recipe- ginger and cinnamon simply are Christmas in cake form.

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I really love Christmas. I really do. But this year its sort of crept up on me without me noticing, and then, all of a sudden, its basically here! And I feel totally unprepared. This, I suppose, is an attempt to capture some Christmas for me. Gingeris the flavour of Christmas. Gingerbread men, gingerbread houses, ginger mini cakes…

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So here’s the thing. I should have mentioned this sooner. Baking cakes in tins in the best thing ever. They are like little, individual, but perfectly formed cakes. Like cupcakes but better. Like cakes but better. Basically, they’re great and you should definitely try them. Imagine having a cake that you could eat all to yourself! And not even feel (that) full! If that doesn’t fill you with utter excitement and sheer joy, you are probably reading the wrong blog.

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When I say ‘cans,’ I really do mean cans. I’m talking the type soup comes in. Baked beans. Sweetcorn. You know? I used two different sizes for these ones- tall and skinny ones, and short and fat ones. It doesn’t matter at all, just make sure you rinse the cans out WELL before use- baked bean cake really doesn’t sound all that appealing.Then simply cut the bottom of the cans off using a can opener, and you basically have a tiny cake tin. Wrap the bottom in tin foil (do this tightly so no mixture leaks out), stand on a baking tray and you are ready to go! 

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Ginger Cakes-in-Cans (this cake recipe comes from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. The idea about baking cakes in cans came from The Londoner)

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120g plain flour

140g caster sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

40g butter

120 ml milk

1 egg

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, spices and butter together until everything is combined and they resemble bread crumbs. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until combined.

Whisk the egg and remaining milk together in a separate bowl, then pour into the flour mixture and mix well until everything is incorporated.

Grease the tins well. Spoon the mixture into the cases, and stand on a baking tray.

Bake at 170 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until springy to the touch.

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For the icing:

140g butter

280g icing sugar

splash of milk

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Cream together the butter and icing sugar. Add the milk if you need it to loosen the mixture, and make it the right consistency. Mix in the ginger, to taste. Add more if you think you need it! I added a bit of glitter for some festive sparkle!

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Cut the cooled cakes in half. Spoon a dollop of mixture into the middle, and another on top. Roughly spread, sandwich the two halves together and devour!

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xxR

Sweet Potato Cake with Spicy Ginger Icing

It was the annual Courtauld Christmas ball this weekend. The Christmas ball is always a very posh, very extravagant affair, with everyone dressed fabulously. To fit in, let alone stand a chance of standing out, you really have to make an effort. It’s always quite stressful.

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This year I decided (due to a severe lack of funds to buy a brand new ball gown) to borrow from my sister. The dress I wore was a floor length, incredibly tight (my sister is skinnier than me) back-less, with a slit up one leg, black dress. The anxiety of my belly hanging out, especially after the three course meal we were to be served at the ball, was enough to send me over the edge.

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Or very nearly.

So I have been on a strict diet of kale, spinach and sweet potatoes. Health foods.

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This cake is sweet potato. However it is not healthy. It did not fit into my ball-dress-diet. What it is is delicious and moist and light and you should make it immediately. It tastes sort of like carrot cake, but somehow better. (Although, to be honest, after a week of kale and skipping lunch, anything was bound to taste good!)

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This cake is made even better with the addition of ginger icing. Ginger icing is my new favourite,thing- seriously I put it on everything! I think its so good, and so surprising a flavour to have in icing, that it is sure to please!

 

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Spiced Sweet Potato Cake (recipe from Whisk Kid)

3 large sweet potatoes

230g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

400g caster sugar

4 eggs

315 ml vegetable or sunflower oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

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Begin by microwaving the sweet potatoes for about 7-8 minutes on each side, until soft enough to mash. If you don’t have a microwave, this can be done in the oven too, just for longer! When they are done, remove the skins and mash them with a fork and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

In a separate bowl combine the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the oil and beat. Then add the cooled sweet potato and the vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.

Bake at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the cake feels springy to the touch. I baked mine in two separate tins, but you could also do one big one.

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For the icing:

140g butter

280g icing sugar

splash of milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground ginger

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Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. This can take a while if you are doing it by hand, and it helps if the butter is fairly soft before you begin.

Add a splash of milk, which will help loosen the icing.

Add the ginger and vanilla, to taste. Start slow- you don’t want to overpower with ginger! Add half and taste, then add more if you are feeling brave. This is also a wonderful excuse to stick your finger right in the icing (not that you need one of course!)

Lather the icing on both halves of the cake and stick together. Give a generous helping to the top too. I attempted to decorate my cake with come sweet potato rosettes, but they look a bit silly, I admit. Feel free to not do that!

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xxR

Too Late Apple and Raspberry Pie

It’s getting a little late for pie. Pie is an autumn thing, and it is basically Christmas. Truth be told, I made this pie a good month ago, when it was high pie time. And I’ve been far too busy with uni and essays and applications and I forgot. I’m very sorry, because its very delicious and I wish you could have tasted it when the time was right.

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But hey, traditions are there to be slightly changed, so why not eat an apple and raspberry pie in mid-december?

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I don’t know. I definitely would.

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Apple and Raspberry Pie

Pastry

500g plain flour

100g icing sugar

250g butter- cold and cubed!

2 eggs

splash of milk

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Begin by sifting together the flour and icing sugar. Then add the cubes of butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour, until it resembles very fine bread crumbs.

Add the eggs and the splash of milk, and bring the mixture together until it forms a ball of dough. Try not to overwork it, or it will be elasticy and chewy, not flaky as you want it!

Wrap it in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for half an hour.

Once it has rested, take the dough out of the fridge. Divide the ball into two halves (one for the top and one for the bottom!) Lightly flour your work surface and roll out one half until it is about ¼ of an inch thick.

Place this in a pie dish- it will be the base of your pie. Lay a piece of greaseproof paper over the top of it, fill it with rice or dry beans or something like that, and bake at 180 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until it is slightly golden brown.

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Filling

3 large bramley cooking apples

1 punnet of raspberries

100g of caster sugar

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

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While the base is in the oven, peel and thinly slice your apples. Put them in a large bowl and stir in the raspberries, sugar and cinnamon.

Once the based has finished baking, take it out of the oven. Pour in the fruit. Roll out the top to ¼ inch thick. Cut some holes in the top to let the steam out, as well as to add decoration! Place it on top of the fruit, and trim off any excess.

Glaze the top with egg or milk, and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Put it back in the oven for another 15- 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

Enjoy straight from the oven!

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xxR