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’.

Simple Sugar Cookies

Happy 1st birthday Bakerholics Anonymous! To celebrate this milestone I thought I would share a recipe that I have only recently discovered but used frequently – with delicious results. These sugar cookies are perfect for any occasion as you can use any shaped cutters you like (my most recent batch were heart shaped for Valentine’s day but I have made a number of different varieties: stars and angels for Christmas, & even some Emperor’s New Groove themed ones!) The real beauty of these cookies is their versatility; they can be flavoured (via the cookie dough – think cocoa or cinnamon, or the icing), be very plain for fussy eaters by omitting the icing, and can be as thick or thin as you desire – just be sure to adjust oven times accordingly.

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Image                                   Emperor Kuzco Cookie from ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’

Ingredients
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 teaspoon water
3 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

Icing
2 cups icing sugar
15g (1 tablespoon) or so of melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (or flavouring of choice)
Food colouring of your choice (I used Wilton Red food gel)Image
Method
Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined.

Add the egg and water and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with glad wrap (or plastic wrap) and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Roll out dough using a rolling pin until you reach your desired thickness (anywhere between 5mm & 1cm is good) and cut out shapes using cookie cutters (or freehand with a knife if you’re skilful!)

Place onto a baking tray (they don’t have to be spread out much as they don’t really expand) and bake for 5-8minutes.

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Once cool, ice with icing and decorate as desired.

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Adapted from ‘Alice & Lois.com’ – ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’

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!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

This is probably my most requested frosting/icing/addictive substance that goes on cakes. It works beautifully on cupcakes and large cakes and is a favourite with both children and adults!

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Ingredients
Note: This makes HEAPS and I often halve or only use 3/4 of the recipe, however if you want really thick icing or will make a second batch soon after, the full recipe is the way to go (it lasts for about a week)
200g butter, softened
½ cup milk
1 tblspn vanilla extract
8 cups icing sugar
A few drops of food colouring/flavouring as desired

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Method
Cream the butter for 1-2 mins in a large bowl using an electric mixer. 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  colouring/flavouring and beat in until combined and the desired colour/flavour has been achieved.

Using a knife or piping bag, apply buttercream to cupcakes or cake and decorate as desired.

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Adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery Cookbook

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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.

Buttery Orange Cake

I have a thing for orange cakes. I’m not really sure why, I’m not a fan of most fruit cakes, but orange cakes fall into a category of their own. The original recipe for this pairs the cake with a simple glace icing flavoured with orange juice but I found that a cream cheese icing works better for a stronger, less sickly-looking cake. Here I have gone over the top with fresh roses and white chocolate shavings but you can decorate it as simply as you like.

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Ingredients (serves 12)
250g softened butter
2 tblspns finely grated orange rind
1 ½ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup plain flour
¾ cup orange juice

Icing
30g softened butter
80g softened cream cheese
1 tsp finely grated orange rind (although I tend to add a bit more – up to you!)
1 ½ cups icing sugar mixture

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a deep 22cm round cake-pan; line base and sides with baking paper, extending it 5cm above the top of the pan (this will make getting it out easier and will assist with the cooking process).

Beat butter, rind and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined between additions. Mix in flour and juice in two batches.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 1 hour and 10mins then carefully turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Place cake top-side up onto a serving plate or cake stand then spread cold cake with icing and decorate as desired.

To make the icing, beat butter, cream cheese and rind in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, gradually beat in icing sugar.

E cookbook 3 012Adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly’s “Buttery Orange Cake” in the 2002 ‘Best Food’ cookbook.