So for Christmas this year I decided to make a few different cakes… Christmas fruit cake (for my Nan), Lemon and Thyme bundt cake, red velvet cupcakes and of course a chocolate log.
My Nan always wants an actual Christmas fruit cake so I whipped out my standby favourite fruit cake recipe Felicity Cloake’s PERFECT Christmas Cake and whipped that up about a month before Christmas, I usually do this in October and feed with apricot brandy but didn’t have the time for such advanced preparations on this occasion. In terms of decorating, I rarely have a plan but had taken the (lazy) precaution of purchasing marzipan, ready to roll icing and a mixed pack of different coloured icings from my local supermarket. I do have a coloured icing gels, edible glitter by the bucket-load and of course an array of icing cutters so inspiration doesn’t need to strike to pull off and okay looking cake. I accidentally made LOADS more cake than was required so did a quick icing job on the bulk of it and took into work for a friend who was having a big family affair. For my Nan I marzipanned it an left it overnight to dry out before icing on Christmas Eve. I covered with the usual sugarpaste and then handmade a fun robin, snowman and tree to go on the top before using cutters to make some festive poinsettias ! I have to admit the tree was challenging as I wanted sure how to go about making it but managed to google image icing trees and deduced that using scissors would probably work…when it wouldn’t stand up straight I used a little brown paste to secure it. I then put snowballs around the bottom and jumping reindeers (using a standard cutter) around the edge. It as a lot of fun to ice – just let your imagination run wild!!
Next I had a standby chocolate log to decorate for Boxing Day, so after a quick chat with my baking guru Mrs P butter icing was decided upon and I made up some to pipe onto the (shop bought) log, I always use double sugar to butter and on this occasion used:
450g sieved icing sugar
50g Sieved cocoa powder
500g Butter or Stork
Just whisk until fluffy and light, pop into a piping bag with your chosen nozzle and off you go! I hadn’t planned this one either… so made two robins and some holly (I made this one before the fruit cake and was happy with the robins).
I made a Lemon and Thyme bundt cake for Boxing Day too (please see previous blog).
Then finally for Christmas day pudding for myself and my fabulous boyfriend Mr D… I made some of Nigella’s red velvet cupcakes though I wanted them to be muffin sized and actually got a bit carried away and they turned into MONSTER size cupcakes… oops!
for the cupcakes
- 250 grams plain flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (sifted)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 100 grams soft unsalted butter
- 200 grams caster sugar
- 1 heaped teaspoon christmas-red paste food colouring
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 175 ml buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
for the buttery cream-cheese frosting
- 500 grams icing sugar
- 125 grams cream cheese
- 125 grams soft unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/325°F, and line a muffin tins with paper cases (I only got 9 out of this batter)
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, combine in a bowl
- In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar, beating well, and when you have a soft, pale mixture beat in the food colouring and the vanilla extract
- Into this vividly coloured mixture, still beating, add 1 spoonful of the dried ingredients, then 1 egg, followed by some more dried ingredients, then the other egg, followed by the rest of the dried ingredients.
- Finally beat in the milk and the vinegar and pop into the cases. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until cooked through (keep an eye on these as I slightly over baked)
- Leave them to cool on a wire rack and do not ice with the frosting till absolutely cold.
For the buttery cream-cheese frosting:
- Sift the icing sugar and add the cream cheese and butter and beat until fluffy and light in a mixer or hand mixer. Pour in the white wine vinegar (or lemon juice) and beat gently until the icing is smooth
- Pop into a piping bag and ice the cakes as desired, I decorated with a edible glitter and sugar snowflakes
These are great to have as pudding, with a cuppa or take over to visit friends.