Spooky halloween cupcakes!

Halloween baking collage

These were inspired by my work’s annual halloween bake sale for charity. I found that although there are lots of halloween decorating ideas out there, it is quite challenging to find any that also look like you would want to (pay money and) eat them!

My original idea was to make pumpkin cupcakes, but how to make them look seasonal? As you can see from the picture above they just looked very plain. Happily I found my solution in a silicon mould with a series of halloween themed designs – I melted dark chocolate into them, let them set and they carefully flexed them out of the mould and onto the cupcakes, and there you have it – Halloween cupcakes that still look delicious!

Chocolate halloween shapes

You can find the pumpkin cupcake recipe at Pumpkin passion cupcakes | BBC Good Food. You can also make these with butternut squash, and the taste is very much like carrot cake. The cupcakes are very moist so if you don’t have time to make the cream cheese frosting (or want to save a few calories) the cupcakes taste pretty good on their own too!

I also made some chocolate cupcakes and decided to have a go at ‘web’ pattern icing – deceptively simple but I made life difficult for myself by deciding to try it with melted chocolate! The general idea is to ice one colour with fairly wet icing or melted chocolate, and then pipe concentric circles of another colour on top. You then take a skewer/toothpick and draw it through the circles, from the inside out at regular intervals to create a web effect, as shown to varying degrees of success of success below! The problem I had was that the melted dark chocolate was too runny to pipe, and the melted white chocolate wasn’t runny enough to pipe! SO maybe I will try it with icing next time…

Halloween cupcakes

Halloween cupcakes

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Raspberry and coconut cupcakes

raspberry and coconut cupcakes

raspberry and coconut cupcakes

I had a lot of coconut to use before moving house, and given the heat this summer I thought fruit rather than chocolate would be the best combination this time, hence these rather pretty looking cupcakes! Astonishingly there is no food colouring used at all, it is all natural from the raspberries.

Ingredients:

  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 140g butter, softened
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 140g raspberries, fresh or frozen

Icing:

  • 280g icing sugar
  • 85g butter, softened
  • 4 tbsp raspberry coulis, or mashed raspberries
  • a little desiccated or shredded coconut, to decorate

 

finished cupcakes

finished cupcakes

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas mark 5. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Beat all of the ingredients together except the raspberries in a large bowl for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  2. Gently stir in the raspberries and then divide the batter between the paper cases, they may look fuller than usual, this is fine.

    raw cupcake

    raw cupcake

  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, then transfer to a cooling rack.

    raspberry icing

    raspberry icing

  4. Make the icing by beating the icing sugar, butter and raspberries together for 4-5 minutes then either pipe or spread on the cupcakes with a palette knife, then sprinkle coconut on top.
    raspberry icing

    raspberry icing

     

    (all photo credits miss suzylee)

F is for…Frangipane cake

F is for…Frangipane cake

F is for…Frangipane cake

I was struggling with F… I’m trying to save fruit cake for ‘xmas cake’ and I made fudge cupcakes recently so didn’t want to replicate that so soon. In despair I asked the other half for a suggestion and he immediately said ‘frangipane’, so here we have it! I smothered it in raspberry puree icing for an extra burst of flavour and decorated with fresh raspberries, but you could easily leave off the icing and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or ice cream etc… The raspberry icing is a great use of natural colour and flavour, and the cake is also gluten free.

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 30g cornflour
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 16 raspberries

Icing:

  • 85g butter, softened
  • 280g icing sugar
  • approx 4 tbsp raspberries, mashed
dry ingredients

adding the dry ingredients

Method:

1. Grease and line a 20cm by 20cm (8 inch by 8 inch) square tin. Preheat the oven to 180c / 160 c fan/ gas mark 4.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until it’s pale and fluffy.

3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the almonds, cornflour and zest.

4. Pour the batter into the tin and spread it evenly with a palette knife. Push the raspberries into the batter.

raw cake

raw cake

 

5. Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the top is golden and the cake is cooked through and springs back when touched.

6. Leave in the tin to cool completely, then transfer to a cooling rack.

cooked cake

cooked cake

7. Beat the icing ingredients together for 4-5 minutes (you will see the colour go a bit paler as air is incorporated into it), then top the cooled cake using a palette knife or spatula.

I think this may become a new favourite recipe…

finished cake

finished cake

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Skinny blueberry cupcakes

skinny blueberry cupcakes

skinny blueberry cupcakes

 

I am not generally a fan of ‘healthy’ versions of delicious foods. I’d rather just have the full blown version as its meant to be, and just try not to have it too often! However there are some recipes that do really work, and these cupcakes are a good example. A lot of the ‘healthiness’ is from not topping them with a mountain of buttercream, which although it looks impressive often doesn’t taste as great as good old basic lemon icing which goes on here. It also uses vegetable oil rather than butter, like my autumn favourite pumpkin cupcake recipe.

Ingredients:

200g/7oz self raising flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

75g/3oz golden caster sugar

100g/3½oz blueberries

1 lemon, zest finely grated

2 free-range eggs

150ml/¼ pint low-fat natural yoghurt

2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk

50ml/2fl oz sunflower oil

For the icing:

100g/3½oz icing sugar

4 tsp fresh lemon juice

cupcakes

cupcakes

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a 12-hole deep muffin tin with some non-stick paper cases.
  2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and stir in the sugar, blueberries and lemon zest. Make a well in the centre. Beat the eggs with a large whisk until smooth, then beat in the yoghurt, milk and oil until well combined. Stir into the flour mixture with a large metal spoon until very lightly mixed.
  3. Divide the batter between the paper cases. Bake in the centre of the oven for 16–18 minutes or until the cupcakes are well risen and golden brown. Do not overcook, or they will be very dry. Transfer them to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  4. To make the lemon icing, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth and runny. Using a spoon, drizzle the icing over the cupcakes and leave to set for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Also I have discovered by accident that these taste AMAZING with a dollop of mascarpone on top – defeats the point of the ‘healthy’ recipe I appreciate, but delicious all the same!

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

E is for… Elderflower, lemon and almond cake

 

E is for elderflower, lemon and

E is for elderflower, lemon and almond cake

Another addition to the baking alphabet. E was a bit of a challenge since it isn’t the right time of year to make an Easter cake, and Eton Mess is certainly not a cake (although I suspect there is a way to make an Eton Mess flavoured cake… a project for next summer perhaps!). In the end I found another summery flavour instead, and this is certainly flavourful!

Ingredients:

225g butter, room temperature

50g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

200g ground almonds

225g golden caster sugar plus 15g extra

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 free range eggs, beaten

150ml undiluted elderflower cordial

150g mascarpone

150ml double cream

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180c and grease and line a 23cm round cake tin (or I used a 20cm square tin).

2. Cream the butter, lemon zest and 225g sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, beating well between each addition. Gradually add the flour, baking powder and almonds to the butter-sugar mix – beat until mixed together and then put this into the cake tin, smoothing the top. Bake for 35-45 minutes until risen and golden. It’s a very moist mix so if you use the skewer test it won’t come out completely cleanly.

First steps

First steps

3. While the cake is cooking make a syrup by mixing, in a small pan, 100ml of cordial, the extra 15g sugar and lemon juice. Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves then set aside to cool.

4. When you take the cake out of the oven, leave it in its tin and make small holes over the surface using a skewer or fork and then pour over the elderflower syrup, spreading it all over the cake’s surface so it sinks in evenly. Leave to cool.

Cut from the square cake once cool

Cut from the square cake once cool

5. For the icing, mix the remaining 50ml elderflower cordial and mascarpone together until smooth.

mascarpone and elderflower cordial

mascarpone and elderflower cordial

This may take a little while and at first it looks like there is no way it will come together, but persevere and it will! I used a balloon whisk. Add the double cream and mix again to make a smooth icing.

icing

icing

 

When the cake is completely cool, remove it from the tin and spread with the icing. This makes a really delicious, moist cake. I decorated it with freeze dried raspberries, but you could use pistachios, rose petals or anything else you fancy really!

finished cake

the finished cake!

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Super-simple victoria sponge

victoria sponge

victoria sponge

A lot of people get very technical about a victoria sponge and the ‘correct’ way to do it, which can make it a bit off-putting to try and make one – especially because with such a simple cake there is nowhere to hide if it goes wrong! You can’t just cover it in frosting and  pretend its all fine. But never fear – because here is an amazingly simple, no fuss recipe which gives a great result. It may not be the best victoria sponge ever but its pretty darn good and light and brilliant to throw together when you don’t have time for something complicated.

Ingredients

175g self raising flour

1tsp baking powder

3 free range eggs

175g caster sugar

175g butter

half tsp vanilla extract

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 c/160 c fan/gas mark 4.

2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, then add all the other ingredients.

3. Whisk until smooth (I used an electric stand mixer but you could use a normal electric mixer) then pour into two greased and lined sandwich tins (I tend to line the base with baking parchment to ensure they come out easily without sticking to the bottom at all) then bake for 30 minutes.

4. Allow to cool in the tins for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling tray.

5. Once cool, add whatever filling you like – I used the traditional strawberry jam and lightly whipped cream, but you could use different flavour jam or even chocolate spread for something a bit different – to sandwich the two cakes together, then dust with icing sugar through a sieve (I used a stencil for a bit of decoration).

6. Sit down with a cup of tea (this cake demands tea rather than coffee, if I’m being picky earl grey would go well..!) and a big slice of cake and enjoy!

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Chocolate fudge cupcakes

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

My favourite thing to bake is chocolate cupcakes. Cupcakes + chocolate = happy me. However, I did start to wonder whether there is more to life… and now I realise there is. Chocolate fudge cupcakes. These are happiness in a cupcake and seriously, the frosting is actually genuinely fudge.

Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 and a half tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 free range egg
  • quarter of a tsp vanilla extract
  1. Pre-heat oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3.

    dry ingredients

    dry ingredients

  2. Beat together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a mixing bowl until you have a sandy consistency.

    mixing

    mixing

  3. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and milk together in a separate bowl then pour HALF into the other mixture and continue beating until mixture is smooth with no lumps, then add the remaining egg mixture and beat until smooth. Do not over mix.
  4. Line a cupcake tin with paper cases and spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two thirds full. This recipe makes at least 12 large cupcakes, usually seems to make more so may be wise to have a spare tin and cases at the ready…
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until sponge bounces back/skewer comes out clean.
  6. Leave to cool slightly then turn out to cool completely on a cooling rack – now make the frosting.

Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 60g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons milk, room temperature
  • 220g light, soft brown sugar
  • 240g icing sugar, sifted (I often skip sifting in other recipes, but here you really do need to make sure there are no lumps)
  • half tsp vanilla extract
  1. Place the butter, milk and brown sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a high heat and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously, and allow to boil for one minute.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in half of the icing sugar. Then stir in the remaining icing sugar and the vanilla essence and stir until the mixture thickens.
  3. Use IMMEDIATELY! This will start off fairly liquid but will quickly set into more of a fudge texture. If you like you can add decorative toppings to the cupcakes whilst the fudge is still soft.

Warning: these cupcakes are addictive.

I mixed it up by also making some peaches and cream cupcakes which I topped with freeze dried raspberries, you can find the recipe for these here Decisions, decisions… cake or cupcakes? | miss suzylee.

(all photo credits miss suzylee)