Rudolph the Red Nosed Cupcake

We absolutely loved making these cute little reindeer, so much so that I barely did anything – my little Miss did pretty much ALL the work!

When I posted the pics, so many of you asked for the recipe…so, here it is. They are super-simple to make, and they taste absolutely delicious. You can also switch the nose or antlers for other things, depending on how fussy your eaters are.

The cupcake recipe is an old favourite from my trusty Cupcake Magic book by Kate Shirazi, which has been my go-to for cupcakes since I bought it in 2008, and it’s helped me emerge from a baking disaster-zone, to a much improved baker who is now able to teach my little Miss how to bake up a storm (she’s fabulous).

Ingredients (Makes 12)

Cupcakes
110g Self Raising Flour (sifted)
110g Caster Sugar
110g Unsalted Butter or Margarine (Marg will stop your cakes rising into a little peak)
1tsp Baking Powder
2 Large Free Range Eggs

Chocolate Butter Cream
3tbsp Cocoa Powder
Splash of hot water
225g Icing Sugar
100g Softened Unsalted Butter
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Decorations
One pack edible Googly-eyes (or you can use icing)
Glace Cherries (or you could use red Smarties)
One pack of Matchmakers (we used Salted Caramel, yum) or you can also use Pretzels for the antlers.

Method
Pre-heat your oven to 160 and line a 12 hole baking tin with cupcake cases (you can use festive cases, or grab whatever you have in the cupboard – guess which one we chose!).

Pop all the ingredients in a mixer (or if you don’t have one, pop them in a large bowl and put in some serious elbow-grease) and mix until all the ingredients are combined, and your mix is smooth and shiny (hint: don’t over mix here as your cupcakes will be more rubbery than light and fluffy!).

Grab a teaspoon and plop spoonfuls of your lovely fluffy cake mix into the cases, being careful not to slop any over the sides of your cake cases. Bake them in your oven for about 20 mins (keep an eye on them, my oven is fierce and usually cooks them in about 15). When they are ready they’ll be golden, firm and springy.

Pop them out of the cake tin, and leave them to cool completely before you attempt to ice them!

Beat your icing sugar, butter and vanilla extract together (it’s a bit messy!) and if it’s still a bit heavy, you can pop a tsp of hot water in to help. Then, mix your cocoa powder with the hot water until you have a thick, gloopy paste (we like to mix ours in a large mug) and pour into your buttercream mixture and mix well until smooth and glossy.

Using a teaspoon, spread your buttercream onto the cupcakes and tidy the edges with the back of a table knife. Pop your googly eyes and cherry noses on (we like to start with the nose in the centre) and then break your matchsticks in half and then break the remaining halves again, so there is a long piece, and one shorter piece to make your antlers.

Enjoy! These little beauties lasted for approximately two minutes in our house. If you can manage to display them before they’re all scoffed, pop them on a festive plate and smile at those cute little reindeer faces peering back at you.

Merry Christmas, lovely people.
X

Easy Packed Lunches – Food That The Kids Can Help Out With

The theme this week is packed lunches. What do you put in your kids lunch box? We’ve always stuck to sandwiches, day in and day out for oh, about 7 years now. I’ve decided to change all of that and be a bit more experimental.

These gorgeous little pizzas/patties/pastries with toppings (not quite sure what to call them, if I’m honest) have gone done a storm at lunch time.

They are so easy to make – the kids got stuck in with their favourite toppings – and they cost pennies.

This time around I totally cheated and bought some ready made pastry (it was on offer for 90p – bargain!). We heated and thickened up a tin of chopped tomatoes, adding in some mixed herbs. Once the sauce had thickened, I took it off the heat and placed to one side to cool down.

The kids used scone cutters to cut out the bases, then we set about choosing the toppings. They went for green peppers, left over green pesto sauce (https://mumsinreallifecouk.wordpress.com/2019/08/22/basil-pesto-sauce/),sliced baby bells and Chiritzo.

Once all of the ingredients had been chopped and sliced, we set about spooning a blob of the tomato sauce on top of the pastry bases. We then sprinkled over the ingredients, made them look pretty and popped them into a preheated oven at 180•C for about 12 minutes.

As you can see, they look dreamy. Leave to cool down on a wire rack and enjoy! Bon appetite.

Here at Mums In Real Life we’re always looking for tips and hints. Please do share any favourite Packed lunch ideas with us. Thank you x

Crust Topped Cod Fillets

If you are looking for a light and healthy yet tasty fish recipe, you’ve landed in the right place.

This delicious dish is unbelievably easy to prep and only takes 12 minutes to bake. Want to know more? Let’s go!

Ingredients:

2-3 Cod Fillets

2 slices of stale bread (crusts off)

2 cloves of garlic

Small handful of cornflakes (optional)

10 – 12 black pitted olives

2 sprigs of rosemary (off the stem)

1 tbsp Oregano

Salt & Pepper

1 egg white

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220•C (fan) and lay the fillets onto an oven proof tray. To make the crust, place the bread, cornflakes, garlic, 4 olives and herbs into a mixure and blitz. Season to your taste.

Next up, coat the top of the fillets with the egg white and crumble the crust on top. Spray lightly with cooking oil.

Sprinkle the remaining olives and some fresh herbs around the fillets and bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

Serve with side of choice – we had mash & peas!

Bon appetite!

Focaccia Stuffed With Pesto & Tomatoes

If you are looking for a food project this weekend, look no further as this is it. We’ve upped the ante by adding juicy cherry tomatoes and by slapping red pesto into a traditional Focaccia.

Ingredients:

500g Strong plain Flour

7g Sachet Yeast

1tsp Salt

3tbsp Red Pesto (see link https://mumsinreallifecouk.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/red-pesto-sauce/ for one of our recipes or shop bought is absolutely fine)

100ml Olive Oil & extra to drizzle (I used my herb & chilli infused olive oil https://mumsinreallifecouk.wordpress.com/2019/07/11/homemade-herb-chilli-infused-olive-oil/ for an extra twist)

5 Sprigs of fresh Rosemary, leaves picked

200g Cherry Tomatoes

Sea Salt flakes to garnish

300ml Lukewarm water

Method:

Pour 300ml into a jug and add the sachet of yeast, stir. Leave for a couple of minutes until it starts to froth.

In a large bowl, tip in the flour and add the salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and then add 75ml Olive oil. Use a knife to stir the mixture, until a rough dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If necessary, sprinkle extra flour on the dough to prevent it sticking.

Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, cover and leave for 40 mins – 1hr to prove. Once the dough has doubled in size, tip it onto a clean, floured surface and knead for a couple of seconds to knock the air out of it.

Shape the dough into a rectangle and roll out to roughly 20 x 10inches. Mix together the red pesto and sprigs of rosemary and smear over one half of the dough.

Fold the other half of the dough over the filling and pinch together to seal it.

Now put the bread into a roasting tin (lined with baking paper) and cover with cling film. Place somewhere warm for an hour to prove further. Preheat the oven to 220C, fan 200C, Gas mark 7.

When the bread is ready for the oven, drizzle over 2tbls of Olive oil and rub it in gently. Gently press the Cherry tomatoes into the dough and use your fingers to gently dent the rest of the dough. Pop in some sprigs of Rosemary. Scatter over the sea salt flakes. Cover with cling film and leave to prove for a further 20 minutes.

Place the bread into the oven, bake for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 200C, fan 180C, Gas mark 6 and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the bread has risen and looks golden. Remove from the oven and transfer onto a wire rack to cool.

Cut into slices or chunks and enjoy with your main of choice (we had steaks and a nice crispy salad!!

Bon appetite lovely people! X

You Deserve Butter!

James’ Spiced Fruit Loaf

We did warn you that James is a serial bread maker didn’t we? Here’s his debut bread recipe for his divine fruit loaf. Definitely something for the weekend.

Packed with fruit and has a good hit of cinnamon this tea time treat is delicious with thickly spread butter.

Ingredients

  • 400g Strong white bread flour
  • 10g Salt
  • 40g Butter
  • 40g Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g raisins
  • 75g dried apricots
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
  • 100 ml milk
  • 100 ml water

 

Bread Machine

This recipe works for both making by hand and in a machine. Obviously a bread machine is far easier but there is nothing quite like doing it yourself!

Depending on your bread machine either add the dry or wet ingredients first as they do differ. But either add all the dry ingredients then add the water and milk on top or the other way round. Make sure that you keep the salt and the yeast separated. Use either a sweet bread setting or if you are not sure then the standard medium sized loaf will do.

Press start and in a few hours……….ta-dah!

 

Made by Hand

Ok this is the longer, but ultimately more satisfying method!

In a food processor add the flour salt and yeast, add the yeast and salt to opposite side of the bowl. Add the butter, sugar, eggs, milk and half the water.

Mix at a slow speed for a few minutes until it comes together and is nice and elastic. Add the fruit and spice and mix again until combined.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to rise in a warm place (I have a nice warm cupboard with pipes in!) leave for 1 1/2 hours.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and lightly knead it until all the air has been knocked out of it. Cut the dough in half and shape them into ball by tucking the dough underneath itself.

Place each loaf on a lined baking tray inside a plastic bag and leave to prove for a hour.

Once risen bake at 210°C for 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy! James

Celebration Cake – Fail Safe Baking Method

Baking in the past was always a bit hit or miss for me. I have made some shocking looking cakes, cakes that are embedded in our family history and have generated hours and hours of laughter (it’s a very good thing I’m not overly sensitive!). Soooo, when on my very first Mother’s Day as a first time Mummy, I received my first Mary Berry baking book, there was no going back. I stepped up to Mary Berry’s plate and I haven’t looked back. If you are looking for a recipe that will guarantee a rise, look no further. This is 100% fail safe and won’t let you down when you need a good sponge. I’ve added cream and chocolate but you don’t need to.

Ingredients for sponges:

8oz Self raising flour

8oz Softened butter

8oz caster sugar

4 large eggs

2 tsp baking powder

2 8inch cake tins

Ingredients for filling:

Jam of choice

Extra thick whipping cream

Ingredients for topping:

2 large bars of milk chocolate

Smarties for decorating

Preheat the oven to 160•c (fan) and grease/line your baking tins.

Mix all of the cake ingredients together, whipping into a smooth mixture.

Divide the cake mixture evenly into the cake tins.

Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from oven and after a couple of minutes, turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Whilst the sponges are cooling, beat the cream into a thick mixture.

Now break up the chocolate into chunks and place into a heatproof bowl. Pour some water into a saucepan and place the bowl of chocolate on top. Heat until the chocolate melts.

when the sponges are completely cool, spread a generous layer of jam over one of the sponges.

  • Spread your whipped cream on top of the jam.
  • Place the other sponge evenly on top.
  • Now pour the melted chocolate on top – Start at the centre of the cake and swirl it neatly around. Use a palette knife to spread it evenly. Pop on your decorations before the chocolate hardens.
  • Place into the fridge. Once the chocolate has hardened, place into an airtight container and pop back into the fridge (for up to 3 days). When you need it, remove from fridge and let it rest up to room temperature. Enjoy – my little 5 year old loved it!

UK to US Cooking Conversion

I love Googling for recipes, or fishing around on Pinterest (did you know we’re on Pinterest too?) and I also have a collection of recipes from my Step-Grandmother, Julie who was from the USA, but I find it really hard to find a conversion chart to translate quantities from UK to US. I’ve tried so many times, and failed miserably at a recipe because I just couldn’t get the quantity conversions right.

I’m not one to just moan about things, I like to get stuff done. So – I’ve found what I think is a comprehensive and reliable conversion chart which accounts for most ingredients. I’ve been using it for a few weeks, and it seems to work well for me.

Anyway, you can download the UK/UK (or vice-versa if you’re in the USA) now and give it a go. We love to hear from you, so if you’ve tried it please do post your comments. Happy cooking lovely people!

Tahlia x