Blackberry cupcakes

As Autumn seems to be rapidly approaching, I thought I’d make some seasonal blackberry cupcakes today. I followed my recipe for Summer Strawberry Cupcakes, just substituting strawberry flavour with blackberry extract in the buttercream and I used blackberry jam inside the cakes.

To get the two-tone buttercream effect, make up a batch of buttercream using 8oz butter and 1lb of sifted icing sugar along with a few drops of the blackberry extract, but don’t add any colouring yet. Once the buttercream is light and fluffy, remove half of it to another bowl and set to one side. To the remaining buttercream, add some purple food colouring gel and beat this in until it is evenly distributed. Put a star nozzle into a piping bag. Add the plain buttercream down one side of the bag and the purple tinted buttercream down the other. Then just pipe swirls on top of your cupcakes in the usual way (you can find tips on how to do this in my Summer Strawberry Cupcakes recipe).

Decorate the cupcakes however you wish – maybe a scattering of sprinkles or some juicy fresh blackberries. Enjoy!

Blackberry cupcakes.

Ice cream cone cupcakes

These yummy little beauties were inspired by the start of summer, long days out with the family and thoughts of the seaside. You won’t find these in any ice cream van but we all know what a flake 99 or a Mr Whippy looks like so I thought I’d make a cake version. I first made these last summer and it seems that they are very popular this year. They are actually pretty simple to make and would be great for a picnic or barbecue with friends.

Ice cream come cupcakes.

Ice cream come cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 6oz (170g) self raising flour (sieved)
  • 6oz (170g) soft butter or margarine
  • 6oz (170g) sugar
  • 3 eggs

You will also need:

  • 18 ice cream cone cups (these are the ones with flat bottoms). You can find them in the ice cream section of most supermarkets.
Ice cream cups.

Ice cream cups.

  • 9 chocolate flakes.
  • A batch of buttercream (you can find my recipe here – you will need to double the amounts).
  • An assortment of sprinkles.
  • A few tablespoons of jam.
  • Two cupcake baking trays. If you don’t have these, you can use normal oven trays instead but it will be harder to keep the ice cream cups from falling over.
  • Some kitchen foil.
  • Stand mixer or electric hand whisk and mixing bowl.
  • Disposable piping bag.
  • Large star nozzle.

Preparation:

1) Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees centigrade (fan oven).

2) Wrap a strip of foil around each ice cream cup and place them in the cup cake trays. This will help to balance the cakes and keep them upright. The cups are quite delicate so be careful when wrapping them.

Prepare the ice cream cups.

Prepare the ice cream cups.

Making the cakes:

1) Place the butter (or margarine) in a bowl with the sugar. Beat this well until pale and fluffy.

2) Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition.

3) Using a metal spoon, gently fold the flour into the batter until it is all incorporated.

4) Place a teaspoon of cake batter into each ice cream cup. Then add a teaspoon of your chosen jam into each one. Finally, add a dessert spoonful of batter on top of the jam. The mixture should come to about 1 inch or so below the rim of each cup.

Cakes ready for baking.

Cakes ready for baking.

5) Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed lightly with your finger.

6) Leave to cool completely in the tins.

Leave in the tins to cool.

Leave in the tins to cool.

7) When cold, remove the strips of foil. Your cakes are now ready for decorating!

How to decorate your cakes:

1) Snip the end off the piping bag and insert the star nozzle. Fill the piping bag (see my previous post for tips on doing this) with buttercream.

2) Pipe a swirl of buttercream onto each cake.

3) Shake your chosen sprinkles onto the buttercream swirls. Then cut the flakes in half and place a piece into the buttercream on each cake.

4) Your delicious ice cream cupcakes are now ready to be enjoyed!

Finished cakes.

Finished cakes.

This is such a fun recipe make and will put a smile on everyone’s face when they eat the cakes. Why not get your kids involved, especially in the decorating? You can add food colouring and flavouring to the buttercream so the cakes look and taste just like your favourite ice cream. My daughter loves mint choc chip ice cream so next time I’m going to colour the buttercream green, add a few drops of mint extract and sprinkle with some tiny chocolate chips!

Enjoy your tasty cakes!

Enjoy your tasty cakes!

Happy baking folks!

Summer strawberry cupcakes

Strawberry cupcakes.

Strawberry cupcakes.

These cupcakes were inspired by a recent pick-your-own trip which was followed by my first batch of home-made jam this year. Strawberries have to be my favourite fruit and my daughter thinks the same, so we love this time of the year. She has previously polished off a whole punnet of strawberries in the 10 minutes it took to get home!

Here, the vehicle for all this strawberry loveliness is a batch of my basic vanilla cupcakes. You will also need the following:

  • Some strawberry jam. I used my home-made jam but that is only because I’ve discovered a love of jam making in the past couple of years. It is perfectly fine to use shop bought jam.
Home-made strawberry jam.

Home-made strawberry jam.

  • A batch of buttercream. To ice 12-15 cupcakes you will need 8oz butter and 1lb sifted icing sugar then follow the method in my standard buttercream recipe.
  • A sharp knife.
  • 1 tablespoon milk.
  • Strawberry essence. I used one from Lakeland which I got when it was on offer.
Strawberry essence.

Strawberry essence.

  • Pink gel food colouring.
  • 12-15 small strawberries (no need to remove the stalk).
  • A disposable piping bag and large nozzle of your choice.

If you would like to make a gluten free batch of summer strawberry cupcakes, follow my GF recipe instead but don’t use the cocoa powder or chocolate chips. All the other ingredients listed here are gluten free so you can decorate the cupcakes in exactly the same way.

There are quite a few stages to making up these cupcakes but don’t be put off as they are worth it in the end, I promise!

1) Make up a batch of fluffy buttercream.

Place the milk in a small bowl, add in approximately 20 drops of the strawberry essence and mix together. Your kitchen will now smell like a strawberry field! Add this mixture to the buttercream and briefly beat together.

Now add in a little of the pink food colouring gel. I advise caution here – unless you want to have bright pink buttercream, just add a very small amount as you can always put in a bit more. Beat into the buttercream until thoroughly combined.

You should now have a lovely, fluffy, pale pink buttercream. Taste it to check that it has a strawberry flavour that you are happy with.

Strawberry buttercream.

Strawberry buttercream.

2) Now to prepare the cupcakes.

Take each cupcake and, using the sharp knife, cut out a small circle from the centre of each cake. Remove this and fill the hole with some strawberry jam. Replace the piece of cake that you cut out and gently press this down.

Cut a circle from the cupcake, fill with jam and replace the piece of cake you removed.

Cut a circle from the cupcake, fill with jam and replace the piece of cake you removed.

3) Piping the buttercream onto the cakes.

Snip the end off the disposable piping bag and insert the nozzle you have chosen. Place the bag upright in a glass and turn the top of the piping bag down over the glass – this will make it easier for you to fill it with buttercream. Then spoon the buttercream into the piping bag and and remove from the glass. Carefully push the icing down towards the nozzle then twist the top of the bag. This is now ready for piping.

Filling the piping bag with buttercream.

Filling the piping bag with buttercream.

Place the nozzle just above, but not touching, the surface of the cupcake along the outside edge. Gently squeeze the piping bag until the buttercream starts to appear out of the nozzle. Keep squeezing as you start to follow the papercase round the outside edge of the cupcake. As you come back round to where you started, move the nozzle inwards and lift it up slightly so you begin to get some height in the buttercream swirl. Continue to pipe in an inwards spiral until you get to the middle. Give the bag one last squeeze then pause before lifting upwards to end the swirl.

Pipe a buttercream swirl onto each cupcake.

Pipe a buttercream swirl onto each cupcake.

Cupcakes with buttercream swirls.

Cupcakes with buttercream swirls.

I also decorated some of my cupcakes to look like roses. To do this, you will need to do the opposite of the cupcake swirl. Start piping in the middle of the cupcake and, keeping the nozzle just above the surface of the cake at all times, continue in an outwards spiral. Finish by swiping the nozzle along the outside edge and lifting away to the side.

Buttercream rose.

Buttercream rose.

4) The final decoration.

To finish off the cupcakes, place a whole strawberry carefully on the top of the buttercream swirl. You can also dust with a little sifted icing sugar if you like.

For the roses, add a fresh mint leaf where you finished piping.

These cupcakes make a lovely gift for someone or why not make them as part of a special afternoon tea party?

Summer strawberry cupcakes.

Summer strawberry cupcakes.

Because the cupcakes are decorated with fresh fruit and the buttercream contains milk, they will only keep for a couple of days. If you are not going to eat them all within this time, leave some cupcakes un-iced and make them up a couple of hours before you want to eat them. In this case, store the plain cupcakes in an air tight container and keep the buttercream, covered over, in the fridge.

Perfect for a special tea party.

Perfect for a special tea party.

 

Gluten free chocolate chip cupcakes

Here’s a great recipe if you, or someone you know, cannot eat gluten. My youngest nephew has coeliac disease and I always try to make sure he doesn’t miss out on sweet treats. I made a batch of these buns last weekend when both my nephew’s came for a sleepover with our daughter. All three of them chose to eat the GF (gluten free) cupcakes instead of the standard ones and they loved them.

image

A note of caution when baking GF food – always make sure that your equipment is thoroughly clean before you start (it should be anyway!) and keep your GF food separately to avoid cross-contamination. You also need to carefully check the ingredients list on items such as sprinkles which may well contain gluten. The Coeliac society website has lots of useful information on catering for a gluten free diet.

Makes 16 cupcakes

Cupcake ingredients:

  • 6oz soft margarine or butter
  • 6oz caster sugar
  • 5oz gluten free self raising flour. I use Dove’s farm flour which is available in the supermarket, just look in the ‘free from’ aisle, rather than the regular baking section.
  • 2oz cocoa powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons gluten free baking powder. Again, Dove’s farm baking powder is good.
  • 5 tablespoons of milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2oz mixed chocolate chips tossed in a tablespoon of GF flour

Equipment:

  • 2 cupcake trays or 2 standard baking trays.
  • 16 cupcake cases. I like the baking cups from Iced Jems.
  • Electric hand mixer or stand mixer.
  • Sieve.

Method:

1) Pre-heat your oven to 160 degree centigrade. Place the cupcake cases into the tins or onto a baking tray.

2) Place all your ingredients, apart from the chocolate chips, into a mixing bowl or the bowl from your stand mixer. Starting on a low speed, blend the cupcake ingredients together. Gradually increase to a medium high speed and mix for a couple of minutes until you have a smooth, fluffy batter.

3) Fold in the chocolate chips, making sure they are well distributed in the mixture.

4) Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases.

Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases.

Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases.

5) Bake in the oven for approximately 15 – 20 minutes. You can check whether they’re ready by lightly pressing them with your finger. If they spring back, the sponge is cooked. You can also insert a skewer or cocktail stick which will come out clean when the cakes are ready.

Cupcakes fresh from the oven.

Cupcakes fresh from the oven.

6) Leave in the tins for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Leave the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

Leave the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

These cupcakes freeze really well and are very useful to have on hand incase you need to cater for anyone with an allergy to gluten. Place the un-iced cupcakes into a sealable food bag or tupperware box then put them in your freezer. Remove the cupcakes from the freezer about 30 minutes before you need them then decorate them as described below.

Note – to make vanilla cupcakes, use 6oz self raising GF flour and do not add any cocoa powder. You will still need to use the milk as GF flour is drier than standard flour.

Decorating your cupcakes with two-tone buttercream:

1) Make up a batch of my buttercream recipe using 9oz soft butter/margarine and 1lb 2oz sieved icing sugar.

2) Divide the mixture equally between two bowls. Into one bowl, add 2 large desert spoonfuls of sieved cocoa powder then beat well until thoroughly mixed.

3) Snip the end off a disposable piping bag and insert a star nozzle. Spoon the vanilla buttercream down one side of the bag and the chocolate buttercream down the other side.

4) Pipe swirls of the buttercream ontop of the cooled cupcakes. I sprinkled some chopped up flake bars over the cakes just for another hit of chocolate! You can add the sprinkles of your choice, just make sure they are gluten free.

Gluten free cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla buttercream swirls.

Gluten free cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla buttercream swirls.

If you don’t want to use two-tone buttercream, you can just use one colour instead. Or change the colours to suit you by adding small amounts of gel food colouring. To make life even easier, you could use ready-made icing which is available in the home baking section of supermarkets, just make sure you check the ingredients are gluten free.

Hope you enjoy baking these special cupcakes!

Fruit streusel muffins

Fresh from the oven this evening, as requested by my daughter, are these delicious soft muffins with a crunchy streusel topping. This is a recipe we make time and time again, changing the fruit depending on what we’ve got in the fridge or freezer. I must confess that I totally forgot to take photos as I was going along but these are so easy to make I’m sure you don’t need pictures!

Fruit streusel muffins.

Fruit streusel muffins.

Streusel topping ingredients:

  • 1.5oz (42g) Demerara sugar
  • 1.5oz (42g) plain flour, sifted
  • 0.75oz (21g) butter, melted (I melt the butter for a few seconds in the microwave).

Muffin batter ingredients:

  • 9oz (55g) plain flour, sifted
  • 6oz (170g) caster sugar
  • 3.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 6fl oz (175ml) full fat or semi-skimmed milk
  • 4fl oz (100ml) sunflower oil
  • 7oz (200g) frozen or fresh blueberries. You can also use raspberries, blackberries or other fruits or a combination of any you like. This time we used mainly blueberries with a few raspberries also thrown in.

Equipment:

  • A couple of bowls for making the streusel topping.
  • A mixing bowl.
  • A measuring jug.
  • A hand whisk.
  • A sieve.
  • A metal spoon.
  • 12 muffin cases and a muffin baking tin if you have one.

Method: 1) Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade for a fan oven or 200 degrees centigrade for a non-fan oven. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper muffin cases (or place cases on a baking tray). 2) To make the streusel stopping, put the sugar and flour in one of the bowls. Melt the butter in the other bowl. Pour the butter over the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until it forms small crumbly lumps. 3) Put the flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl and mix together. 4) Measure the milk and oil together in the jug. Crack in the two eggs and whisk together. 5) Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour over the wet ingredients. Quickly whisk together until just smooth but do not over mix or your muffins will be tough. 6) Add the fruit into the mixture and carefully fold in with a metal spoon. Try not to break up the fruit. Your mix will probably become streaked with purple or red depending on which fruit you use! 7) Divide the muffin batter between the paper cases. Then sprinkle over a little of the streusel topping. 8) Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. I tend to set my timer for 20 minutes then turn the tray round in the oven for the last 5 minutes so all the muffins are evenly browned. 9) Leave in the tray for 10 minutes or so then place the muffins on a cooling tray. These are equally delicious whilst still slightly warm or when completely cold. They will only keep for a few days as they contain fresh fruit but this never seems to be a problem as they are eaten very quickly in our house!!

Fruit streusel muffin still warm from the oven.

Fruit streusel muffin still warm from the oven.

Unwrap your muffin and it's ready to enjoy.

Unwrap your muffin and it’s ready to enjoy.

These muffins are difficult to resist!

These muffins are difficult to resist!

Enjoy making your muffins and post me a picture of the results!

Streusel topped muffins.

Streusel topped muffins.