Blueberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes

Everyone knows that blueberries are my favourite fruit. When I found loads of punnets in the reduced section last week, I couldn’t resist stocking up my freezer! I baked these cupcakes last Sunday when the sun was shining and the sweltering heat was making it really feel like summer. Today, sadly, isn’t quite so beautiful. IMG_9583 IMG_9587

I love London in the summer. Everything feels so laid back, much more so than in the winter. When it’s cold, grey and rainy, it’s difficult to enjoy anything. The herds of people in coats with heads bowed against the drizzle, rushing past each other turn into crowds spilling out of pub doors, Pimms in hand, and flocking to London’s parks.

Last Sunday was one of those pub going, park visiting days. We packed a huge picnic, donned summer dresses and sunglasses, and followed the hoards of people heading to Hampstead Heath, which, thankfully, I live about five minutes away from!

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It is rare that British weather is good, so when the sun shines, you really have to make the most of it. I also have something other than the gorgeous weather to celebrate. I finished my dissertation, and, subsequently my MA, on Thursday! So, sunshine or no sunshine, I’m very happy. And the prefect accompaniment to happiness is cupcakes, regardless of whether or not I can eat them!

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Blueberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes

for the cupcakes:

2oog butter

2oog caster sugar

3 eggs

2oog self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon milk

1 punnet blueberries

Preheat the oven to 18o degrees Celcuis.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and mix well. Then add the flour and baking powder. Stir in the milk.

Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases and spoon a tablespoon of mixture into each case. Once the cases are full, place a handful of blueberries on top of each one and, using your finger, push into the mixture  slightly. I do it this way to ensure that all the berries don’t sink the bottom.

Bake for 15-2o minutes, or until slightly golden brown and firm and springy to the touch.

For the icing:

1oog white chocolate

25og butter, slightly softened

25og icing sugar

Begin by melting the white chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of over simmering water, then place it to one side and allow it to cool completely.

While the white chocolate is cooling, beat together the butter and icing sugar until it is pale and fluffy. If you have a freestanding mixer, it is best to use the whisk attachment to get the lightest icing.

When the chocolate is cool, stir it in. When the cupcakes have cooled, spoon a dollop of icing onto each cupcake and smooth. Decorate with a few blueberries and enjoy! IMG_9585

xxR

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Henna Cupcakes

I have just come back from a trip to Marrakech.

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place des epices in marrkech

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It is an amazing city, the perfect combination of bustling, crazy, extremely fast paced souks and serene, beautiful, ancient palaces. We were staying right in the centre of the Medina, very very close to Jamaa el-Fna, the main square, which made for an eye-opening, though not entirely relaxing visit. We were woken up in the early hours of every morning by a very vocal donkey braying and a chorus of roosters.

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As soon as we stepped out of the front door, we were in the midst of the souk, trying to avoid being run over by the mopeds that zoom through the tiny streets, yelling at pedestrians to jump out of their way and donkeys pulling over-loaded carts. Everywhere people shout at you, trying to attract you to look and and buy their wares.

the centre of the souk
the centre of the souk
haggling for lamps
haggling for lamps

It is impossible not to buy anything. We came home with rugs, lamps, jewellery and stacks of bowls and plates, all beautifully hand painted- I was in heaven, being an absolute crockery lover.

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It is not just the thousands of plates hanging in the souks that are a thing of beauty. Every building you go into, from the riad we were staying in, to the palaces that date from the sixteenth century, is adorned with the most ornate decoration. Marrakech is famous for its tiles, and rightly so.

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However, the palaces were also decorated with amazing relief carving, of both wood and stone, creating complex archways and eye catching details, even in the great heights of the vaulted ceilings. It is impossible not to be stunned by the beauty of these places, but also the craftsmanship that went into their creation.

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These cupcakes are my little homage to Marrakech, playing on the shapes and designs of the city, and of course, henna, which is not only something I love but also something that is very quintessentially Marrakechian.

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They are full of the flavours of the Marrakech, mainly cinnamon, which is used in both sweet and savoury Moroccan dishes.

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There is also something very similar about icing a cupcake and applying henna…

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‘Henna Cupcakes’- Chocolate Spiced Cupcakes with Cinnamon Icing

for the cupcakes:

150g chocolate

80g butter

240g plain flour

240g brown sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

240ml milk

2 eggs

Begin by melting the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once it has melted, take it off the heat. It has to be completely cool before you can use it.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix together the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until they resemble sand. Then add the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

In a jug, whisk together the milk and eggs. Add about 2/3 of this mixture to the flour mixture and beat to combine. When it is well mixed, add the rest.

When the chocolate is really cool, stir it in.

Spoon the batter into cupcake cases and bake at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the cakes are firm to the touch with a slight spring.

for the icing:

400g icing sugar

200g butter

splash of milk, if needed

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Beat the icing sugar and butter together really well until it is completely combined. Add a splash of milk if needed to make it a silky, icing consistency. But you don’t want it too runny if you are going to pipe it, so go easy on the milk!

Put about 1/4 of the icing into a separate bowl and add the cinnamon. You want it to be a nice brown colour. Mine wasn’t really brown enough to stand out well, so if you think it needs to be a darker colour, add more. Be careful though- you don’t want the cinnamon to be way too strong! Keep tasting as you add it. You can always add a splash of brown food colouring if the cinnamon just isn’t dark enough.

Put the icing into a piping bag with a small nozzle and pipe your favourite henna patterns!

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xxR

Raspberry Cupcakes with Mint Icing

These cupcakes really divided the crowd. I loved them- mint is up there in my favourite herbs; I will happily eat a whole bunch raw. I think it’s delicious in salads and sweets.

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To me, mint is summery and light, which, let’s face it, is exactly what you want your cupcakes to be. A friend of mine, who I test a lot of my bakes on these days, said she was worried about them being toothpastey, but no, she liked them too. Or, at least, she said she did. Maybe she’s just nice.

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My parents, on the other hand, were less than complimentary. They said herbs are not meant in cupcakes. They couldn’t get to grips with my maverick flavour combinations. But I think mint works perfectly in sweet things, especially with raspberries! Hello- match made in heaven!

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If you are feeling adventurous, I urge you to give these a go. Just think Pimm’s.

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Raspberry Cupcakes with Mint Icing

For the cupcakes:

200g butter

200g caster sugar

3 eggs

200g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 punnet raspberries

Begin by beating together the butter and sugar until pale, then add the eggs and mix well. Stir in the flour and baking powder. Finally, mix in the vanilla.

Cut the raspberries in half or quarters, and then gently mix them in. Be careful not to just squish them!

Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and bake at 180 degrees celcius for 20-30 minutes, or until they are golden brown.

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For the icing:

250g icing sugar

125g butter

handful of mint leaves, finely chopped

Beat the icing sugar and butter together until pale. It is best to do this with a whisk if you want really white, light icing. Add the mint and stir well.

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When the cupcakes are completely cool, spread the icing over the top and decorate with a raspberry and a mint leaf.

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Verdict?

xxR

(Hot) Lemon (and Poppyseed) and Honey Mini Cakes

This is definitely cold season. Everyone (myself included) seems to have some sort of cold/sore throat/ cough or is just a bit generally run down.

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Everyone knows that the best (and probably only) way to truly combat a cold is a big mug of hot lemon and honey. Not only is it yummy and warm, but honey itself is also very good for soothing even the sorest of throats. There are also a whole host of other health benefits of drinking hot lemon and honey- it promotes weight loss, aids digestion and gives skin a healthy glow.

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These are the cake alternative. I wish I could say that they had as many health benefits as the liquid counterpart, but, alas, the amount of butter, sugar and flour in them probably cancels out any good that the honey and lemon might do.

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But they are yummy! So if you are feeling a bit under the weather- have one anyway, it will definitely perk you up. And maybe have a cup of hot lemon and honey on the side too…

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Lemon Poppyseed Cakes with Honey Icing

For the cakes:

225g butter

225g caster sugar

4 eggs

225g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons milk

zest and juice of 1 lemon

50g poppyseeds

Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Then stir in the milk, followed by the lemon juice and poppy seeds. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases or a greased muffin tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees celcius.

For the honey icing:

140g butter

280g icing sugar

about 2 teaspoons milk

about 4 teaspoons honey

Beat the butter and icing sugar together, then add the milk if needed to loosen the mixture. You don’t want it to be too runny so only add it if you think you need it! Then stir in the honey. Add more if you think it needs it, but use some caution- you don’t want a really sickly sweet icing!

I cut my cakes in half and sandwiched icing in the middle, or you could dollop it on top instead!

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Candied lemon to decorate (optional):

1 unwaxed lemon

about 1 cup of sugar

about 1 cup of water

(with both the sugar and the water, you don’t need to be very precise, so just use a normal size mug for these measurements- or don’t measure at all! You just need roughly the same amount of each.)

Boil the sugar and water together until the sugar has completely dissolved. Cut the lemon into thin slices, and put in the boiling sugar and water mixture. Simmer until the lemon pith has gone translucent and the whole thing is fairly soft.

Take the lemons out of the water and cover in some dry caster sugar, then leave, ideally overnight, to cool and harden completely before using. They will keep for about a week in an airtight container.

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xxR

Happy 2nd Birthday Chocolate Cake and Oil Paint!

Today is my blog’s 2nd birthday!

What better way to celebrate than share with you my favourite recipes from the past two years? (Apart from eating cake, of course!)

Rainbow Cake (Feb 15, 2013) was a huge hit- delicious and beautiful! Perfect for a party.

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Surprise Inside Cake (March 25, 2013) is another crowd pleaser. Maybe not the most highbrow cake ever baked, but sure to get a great reaction!

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Blueberry Lemon Cake with Poppyseed Icing  (September 25, 2014) was also a winner. Blueberries are without a doubt my favourite fruit, and poppyseed icing is a complete revelation. This is the perfect cake for a summer day.

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Lime Cake with Pomegranate Icing (May 15, 2014) is another lovely cake for a birthday, or even just a weekend afternoon. It’s light and fresh and zingy.

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These Creme Egg Inspired Cupcakes (April 2, 2013) are really fun to make and even more fun to eat!

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Raspberry Frangipane Tart  (June 12, 2014) HAS to be on this list. It is my go-to dessert for any occasion. So simple to make and perfect every time! It can also be given a Christmassy twist- as I did only a few a weeks ago with this cranberry version.

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Apple pie is of course a classic, and these Mini Apple Pies (October 14, 2014) are a wonderful new twist on an old favourite.

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 Foccacia (November 3, 2013) is the perfect bread for a cold winter lunch.

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Cinnamon Swirl Loaf (October 12, 2013) was and still is the best thing ever. Seriously, ask anyone who tried it.

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Cinnamon Spiced Courrone (January 17, 2014) is basically a giant cinnamon roll. What’s not to love?!

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It’s all about blueberries for breakfast. Pancakes, buckle, on their own…

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Chocolate Fondants (July 16, 2014), need I say more?

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I love Sugar Cookies (December 6, 2014) for any occasion- but especially Christmas. Try making  hearts for Valentine’s Day or eggs and bunnies for Easter if you just can’t wait that long (I can’t)!

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Mexican food is my all time favourite. This Mexican feast (July 29, 2013) is honestly the best in vegetarian Mexican.

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BBQ Pizzas (July 7, 2013) are the perfect summer supper. You have to try them. It will change your outlook on pizza forever.

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Thank you all so much for baking with me for the last two years, and continuing to do so!

All my love,

xxR

 

Tea Cupcakes with Honey Buttercream

These cakes are the bees knees.

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A small, perfectly formed tea infused cupcake, topped with the most deliciously decadent honey flavoured buttercream. They are a tiny amount of spring in this otherwise very wintery, mid-January landscape. This week has been so sunny that it’s really started to feel like spring. My flat has south facing french doors, so the sun really beams in, giving me an illusion that it’s warmer outside than it actually is! Always a bit of a shock when I finally step outside and realise that the ground is covered with a thick layer of frost…

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They are basically an afternoon tea, all in one bite, and topped with dried petals, just to prolong the illusion of spring even more!

I got these rose and cornflower petals for Christmas. They’re from a company called Steenbergs which sells organic teas, spices and dried petals! Everything is organic, and most things are fair-trade and ethically sourced, so definitely a good thing to check out!

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Sometimes going back to school or work after Christmas is a little painful, but I’m actually very happy to be back. I’m excited to get back in the kitchen, and start cooking up more weird and wonderful (hopefully less weird than wonderful!) treats. And I’m excited to get back to uni, even though I’m really just faced with a mountain of reading and essay writing!

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Whatever you’re doing this weekend, these cakes are the perfect accompaniment. Trust me!

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Tea Cupcakes with Honey Buttercream

For the cupcakes:

235ml milk

3 normal tea bags

55g butter

225g sugar

2 eggs

60ml vegetable oil (I used rapeseed, which is my new favourite thing- much healthier than olive oil, but not weird and processed like most of the vegetable oils out there. But any veg oil would be fine!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

175g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Begin by warming the milk in a saucepan to nearly boiling- but don’t burn it because burnt milk is absolutely horrible! Cut the teabags and pour the tealeaves directly into the milk, then allow to infuse and cool.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Mix in the vegetable oil and vanilla. Gradually add in the flour and baking powder.

Strain the tea leaves out of the milk. (I did this by pouring the milk back through the teabags because the holes on my sieve were too big). Then add the milk to the flour mixture.

Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes.

For the buttercream:

125g butter

250g icing sugar

3 teaspoons honey (or more)

Whisk the butter and icing sugar, then add the honey. I used three teaspoons, but do this to taste. I didn’t want it to be too sweet and sickly, but it’s up to you! This is also a good excuse to stick your finger in the icing…

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Spread the icing on each cupcake, and decorate as you wish. Devour immediately with a big cup of tea.

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xxR

Courgette Cupcakes with Spicy Ginger Icing

All of my posts recently have been something along the lines of this: ‘At the moment, my mother’s garden is overflowing with [insert fruit or veg here] and, in an attempt to use up all the [said fruit] I have baked…’

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I’m so sorry. What a bore! I wish I could fill these pages instead with great stories and interesting tales instead of what are basically gardening reports. But sadly, at the moment my life is filled mainly with bowls of plums all over the kitchen (transformed into Plum Cakes and Tarts and endless jars of sticky orange jam), figs rolling off the counter (watch this space!) and mounds of courgettes.

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Every meal we are eat has some courgette element, be it hidden or the main attraction, and these cakes are no different.

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In Courgette Cake, the courgette is extremely well disguised, even the most seasoned hater of courgettes would never know! Instead, they add a moist, light texture to a delicious, cinnamony sponge. Basically, its very similar to carrot cake. But hey, nothing wrong with that!

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So if you, like me, are drowning under a sea of courgettes, grate them, mix them into some butter, brown sugar, flour and spices.

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They can be baked as either cupcakes or a loaf, or whatever takes your fancy!

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Topped with ginger spiked buttercream, a fresh courgette flower and devoured immediately!

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Courgette Cake with Spicy Ginger Icing 

(this recipe makes about 12 cupcakes or one smallish loaf)

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For the courgette cake:

2 eggs

100ml melted butter, cooled slightly

100ml olive oil

200g brown sugar

200g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

200g peeled and grated courgettes

Whisk together eggs, butter, oil and sugar until they are all combined.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and spices, then add them to the egg mixture in two batches, beating well after each addition.

Finally, add the courgettes to the mixture and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius. Spoon the mixture into your muffin cases or a lined and greased loaf or cake tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes if cupcakes, or 40-45 minutes if a loaf or cake, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

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For the icing:

140g butter

280g icing sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

splash of milk, if needed

Whisk together the butter and icing sugar, then mix in the ginger. If the icing is too stiff, add a small splash of milk to loosen it. Spread on top of the cooled cupcakes or loaf and enjoy!

xxR