Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I love this cake, it’s so quick and effortless to put together and is absolutely delicious (also, because it contains carrot it’s basically a salad, right?!). It’s great at any time of year but is particularly good as a treat around Easter for someone who doesn’t like chocolate or for people who are chocolated out!

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Ingredients (serves 8-10)
1 ½ cups grated carrot (lightly packed)
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
¾ cup vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
40g (1 tablespoon) softened butter
60g cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)
1 teaspoon lemon rind
1 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted

To decorate (if desired):
Extra chopped walnuts
The thin end of a small carrot cut into 2 halves
4 sprigs of coriander

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Method
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).

Grease an 8″ round cake pan with margarine and line the base with baking paper.

Combine eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla & sifted dry ingredients  in a large bowl & beat on low speed.

Stir in carrots & walnuts. Mix well.

Pour mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for approx. 40 – 45mins or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, before placing it on a wire rack to cool completely.

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To make the cream cheese frosting, beat butter & cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add in the lemon rind and icing sugar and beat until smooth. Spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake.

If desired, decorate by placing the finely chopped walnuts around the edge of the cake and the carrot pieces in the centre of the cake with two coriander sprigs above each carrot. Enjoy!

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Recipe from Aunty Cynth

Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

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Wow! Only a week and a day until Christmas 🙂 It’s warming up around here which means that having the oven on and heating the house isn’t ideal and so I’ve had a couple of organised baking spells to try and minimise the amount of oven time.

I made these cupcakes yesterday for an afternoon tea with friends and they’re easy and delicious (and still soft & moist today).

For decorations, go as crazily festive as you like. There are plenty of cute Christmas sugar icing decorations that are cheap and readily available, you could make up a range of different coloured icings and pipe a wreath on them or something along those lines (if you can be bothered), or do as I did, and cut out some holly out of ready-made fondant icing.

Of course, these cupcakes aren’t reserved just for Christmas time, they would work equally well as birthday cupcakes with piped icing and candles!

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Ingredients (Makes 24)
Cupcakes
150g softened butter
⅔ cup caster sugar
2 tspns vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ⅓ cups self raising flour, sifted
4 tblspns cocoa, sifted
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ tblspns of good quality red food colouring (I use Wilton’s, you may need to adjust the amount depending on the brand you use)

Cream Cheese Icing
500g cream cheese, chopped
100g butter, softened
1 tspn vanilla extract
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tblspns milk

To Decorate
Ready made white fondant icing
Red food colouring
Green food colouring
Holly leaf cutter (or stencil)
Sharp Knife

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Method
Preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced. Place butter, caster sugar and vanilla into a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, beating until well combined. Add the flour, cocoa, buttermilk and food colouring and beat on a low speed until just combined.

Divide mixture into cupcake tins lined with (green) patty pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven) or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the largest cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

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While the cupcakes are cooking and cooling, divide half of the fondant icing into 2 and colour one lot vibrant red, and the other a deep (holly-ish) green. Roll out the green fondant with a rolling pin and cut out 48 holly leaves. Then, using a sharp non-serated knife, mark out a leaf pattern by running the knife through the centre so that it leaves an incision but does not cut through. Then cut diagonal incisions from the centre out so that it looks like the veins of a leaf (see picture below).

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Pull small pieces of the red fondant off and roll into 48 small balls to make the holly berries.

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Once the cupcakes are almost completely cool, start making the cream cheese icing. Place the cream cheese and butter into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 8-10 minutes. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat for a further 5 minutes or until completely smooth. Add the milk and beat until just combined.

Ice each cupcake with a generous amount of icing and top with 2 leaves and 2 berries. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Donna Hay’s recipe ‘red velvet cupcakes with sugared cranberries’.

Snickers Cupcakes!

The exclamation mark in the title is necessary because these are the best cupcakes I have ever eaten (and I’ve sampled A LOT of cupcakes in my time). I made them for a family birthday party by combining a number of different recipes so that these cupcakes are like a deconstructed Snickers. Everyone went crazy for them, not that I blame them, because who doesn’t love Snickers? With a dense, fudgy chocolate base, a light and fluffy peanut-nougat icing and oodles of caramel, these cupcakes are to die for and I can imagine them becoming a firm family favourite.
EDIT 2015: Still a winner! I made these for my 21st birthday celebrations with family & friends and the went down a treat 🙂 
Elise August 2015 182

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Ingredients (makes around 30)
Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes
350g butter
450g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
2 ½ cups caster sugar
1 ½ cups almond meal
2 cups cocoa
10 eggs
2 tspns vanilla extract

Peanut Nougat Frosting
1 cup smooth peanut butter
250g butter, softened
4 tspns vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
2 tblspns milk
Salted peanuts (chopped), remaining caramel, melted dark chocolate & chopped snickers, to decorate

Caramel
100g butter
⅔ cup soft brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
½ cup cream

Method
Preheat oven to 140°C. Line 3 12-hole muffin trays with patty pans (about 30).

Combine butter, chocolate and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Mix continuously until melted and smooth. Sift the almond meal and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the chocolate mixture and beat for 1min on a low speed. Add eggs two at a time, beating after each addition until combined. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Divide mixture evenly between patty pans (filling each about ¾ full) and then bake for  30mins or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from the tray and let cupcakes cool on a wire rack completely before icing and decorating.

As cupcakes are baking, make the caramel sauce. Combine the butter, sugar, golden syrup and cream in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil for at least 5 mins. Take off the heat and cool to room temperature.

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Once the cupcakes are cooled, dig a small hole at the top of the cakes with a teaspoon.

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Fill the holes with the cooled caramel.

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To make the frosting, beat peanut butter and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and slowly add the icing sugar. Add the milk and beat until just combined.

Using a piping bag with a star attachment, pipe the frosting in a circular motion onto the cupcakes, starting around the edge so that you form a soft-serve ice-cream effect. Drizzle with remaining caramel sauce, melted dark chocolate and then top with salted peanuts & chopped snickers. Enjoy!

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Elise August 2015 182

Cupcake recipe adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery Cookbook.

Watermelon Cupcakes

These cupcakes are very kitschy (but cute!) and are a real favourite with young children. They’re also very simple to make and are perfect for a child to take to school and share with their classmates on their birthday.

*Note: the shade of green of the frosting was actually much deeper than it appears in these photos*

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Ingredients (makes approx. 24 cupcakes)
Cupcakes
2 ¾ cups plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tblspn vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup mini dark chocolate chips
Pink food colouring

Frosting
100g butter, softened
¼ cup milk
½ tblspn vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
Green food colouring
**Optional – extract from melted watermelon flavoured Jelly Belly jelly beans (or equivalent)

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Method
Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C-ish fan forced). Line two 12-hole muffin trays with green patty pans.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a different bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins. Add the caster sugar about a third at a time, beating for 2mins after each addition. After the last of the sugar has been beaten, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 min after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined.

Add approximately a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat on a low speed until combined. Add half of the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process until all of the flour and milk is thoroughly combined but be careful not to overbeat (this will toughen the mixture). Add in the food colouring and gently stir through the chocolate chips.

Spoon mixture into the patty pans (filling each about 3/4 full).

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Bake for about 18-20mins or until the top springs back when touched. Remove the cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before icing.

To make the frosting, cream the butter for 1-2 mins. Add the milk, vanilla and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 mins (until the mixture is light and fluffy). Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 mins or until of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if too dry or extra icing sugar if too wet. Add a few drops of green food colouring (& watermelon flavouring if desired) and beat until combined.

Spread each cupcake with a generous layer of frosting. Enjoy!

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Adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Baker’s Vanilla Cupcakes & Vanilla Buttercream recipes. Watermelon cake inspiration from Pinterest!

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

I LOVE this recipe (another adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery Cookbook). The cupcakes  are dense, dark, rich and suitable for the gluten intolerant. These cupcakes are incredibly versatile and can be decorated however you please (flavoured buttercreams, glace icing, dusted with icing sugar and served with berries, or with fondant icing).

Here I have included a couple of ideas, but don’t feel you have to stick to them!

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Photo courtesy of the Australian Women’s Weekly Cupcakes By Colour Cookbook.

Ingredients (makes approx. 30 cupcakes)
350g butter
450g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
2 ½ cups caster sugar
1 ½ cups almond meal
2 cups cocoa
10 eggs
2 tspns vanilla extract

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Method
Preheat oven to 140°C. Line 3 12-hole muffin trays with patty pans (about 30).

Combine butter, chocolate and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Mix continuously until melted and smooth.

Sift the almond meal and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the chocolate mixture and beat for 1min on a low speed.

Add eggs two at a time, beating after each addition until combined. Add vanilla and beat until combined.

Divide mixture evenly between patty pans (filling each about 3/4 full) and then bake for  30mins or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from the tray and let cupcakes cool on a wire rack completely before icing and decorating. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Jennifer Graham’s ‘John’s Baci birthday cupcakes’ in The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook. 

Velvety Vanilla Cupcakes

This is my absolute favourite vanilla cupcake recipe adapted from my absolute favourite cupcake cookbook (and that’s saying something because I have A LOT), ‘The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook’ by Jennifer Graham. I’m not paid or employed by them (promise!) but I have tried so many cupcake recipes in my time, and have found this book to contain many of the best (as well as providing fabulous decorating ideas).

Anyway, now my spruiking is out of the way…  This vanilla cupcake recipe produces cupcakes that are full-flavoured, not overly sweet or cloying with a beautiful, delicate texture. You can ice them any way you like – I love vanilla buttercream, but you can just as easily ice them with chocolate icing, plain glacé icing or fondant icing as I have done directly below. Perfect for birthdays, picnics, afternoon teas or anytime you have a hankering!

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Ingredients (makes 24+ cupcakes)
2 ¾ cups plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tblspn vanilla extract
1 cup milk

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Method
Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C-ish fan forced). Line two 12-hole muffin trays with patty pans.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a different bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins. Add the caster sugar about a third at a time, beating for 2mins after each addition. After the last of the sugar has been beaten, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 min after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined.

Add approximately a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat on a low speed until combined. Add half of the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process until all of the flour and milk is thoroughly combined but be careful not to overbeat (this will toughen the mixture).

Spoon mixture into the patty pans (filling each about 3/4 full) and bake for about 18-20mins or until the top springs back when touched. Remove the cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before icing.