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.
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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!

Easy (but fab) Birthday Cake

Easy no-faff chocolate birthday cake – easily customisable with a plastic toy. What’s not to love!

So, I love baking but sometimes my ambition outweighs my time and talent when it comes to making cakes for my family. I often start my search on Pinterest and find something which I like the look of, and then freestyle my own (slightly less fancy/intricate) version. The children have been pretty pleased with the results (and me too!). This cake I made for my son’s birthday last week, and as a Pokemon mad fan his immediate choice was “make me a Pokemon Mummy”. Well I winged this one, but he ended up with a chocolate cake, covered in newly discovered (and really tasty) caramel M&Ms and good old Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers.

The recipe is a traditional equal measure chocolate cake which bakes in no time at all, and is then iced with chocolate butter icing. Simple! The best bit is that the cake doesn’t need to be perfectly shaped (mine rarely are) because you’re going to cover it in chocolate fingers and top with M&Ms (or Smarties, or Maltesers or Chocolate Buttons – whatever you fancy!)

Ingredients:

225g Unsalted Butter (softened) plus a bit for greasing your tin

225g Caster Sugar

4 Large Free Range Eggs

220g Self Raising Flour

2tsp Baking Powder

50g Cocoa Powder

Splash of Vanilla Extract

For the Buttercream: beat 200g of butter with about 500g of icing sugar. I like to add in a splash of vanilla extract and chuck in some cocoa to taste.

Method:

Start by preheating your oven to 180c and butter two 20cm sandwich tins (I prefer the spring based ones). Line both bases with greased baking paper.

Don’t ask me why there is an ice scraper on my island…

Add your butter, sugar and vanilla extract to a large bowl and mix until light and pale (I like to use my faithful Kitchen Aid to do this). Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. It’s best to have a taste at this point (well that’s what we like to do – then I have to wrestle the bowl and beater away from my daughter before she scoffs the lot). Divide between the two tins as evenly as you can, and bake on the same shelf for 25-30 minutes (sticking a skewer in usually works for me. If they come out clean then the cake is done).

Next leave the cakes to cool in the tin for 5 mins and get on making your buttercream. Add the butter, vanilla extract, cocoa and icing sugar to your bowl (again I use my Kitchen Aid, but make sure the cover is on and I also pop a tea towel over the top to help catch the inevitable fog of icing sugar escaping from the top!).

Then carefully remove the cakes from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Once they are fully cooled, put one upside down on a flat plate or board, dollop some of your butter icing on and place the other cake on top (I like to put it upside down as you get a flatter edge). Roughly cover the whole cake with the butter cream and smooth down a bit with a palette knife. Then, edge the cake with chocolate fingers, pressing them in firmly, pop on your chosen toy(s) and pour on your choice of sweets to top. So easy to make and looks fantastic.