Gingerbread Cottage Cupcakes

Two weeks today and I’ll be basting the turkey, criss-crossing the sprouts, and getting drunk on festive spirit at the first ever hosted Christmas in our new house. I’m giddy in anticipation but need to be escorted away from my credit card and every Christmas Homeware department pronto – I’m out of control. Technically it’s an investment as we’ll be using it all for years to come, but we all know I’ll be “refreshing” with new themes next year as “Nordic Hygge” is going to be so 2016.

Gingerbread houses have adorned my Instagram and Pinterest feed over these leading weeks and I’m completely obsessed, so instead of bringing wine and flowers to a recent party, I bought Gingerbread Cottages on cupcakes.

Now don’t judge me, but although I have made these cupcakes with the real homemade gingerbread, the images seen attached are made using Lakeland’s amazing Make Your Own Gingerbread Cottage kit. It’s a long story but I needed these cupcakes baked and out for the party pronto and completely ran out of time to cut out my own templates. With no printer or cardboard at home I turned to my hero of the hour Lakeland who completely saved my bacon.

I will disclaim however how easy making your own gingerbread is, so if you fancy giving the real deal a go then see my recipe below with details on where to find a super straight forward template.

There’s no shying from the ginger with these ones so you need to be fan, however even loathers of ginger can make these and get “almost” as big a kick from the beauty of their Bavarian Cupcake village….what? I said “almost”


Makes | 12 cupcakes

Preparation time | 3 hours

Baking time | 1 hour


For the cupcakes

200g self-raising flour

200g butter, softened

200g caster sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

5 drops Foodie Flavours Ginger flavouring

3 eggs

1 tbsp milk

For the Gingerbread cottages

500g plain flour

200g golden syrup

120g caster sugar

120g butter, softened

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line a cupcake tray.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy then add the eggs one at a time.

Drop in the ginger flavouring and in a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda and spices.

Add the flour to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, then add the milk and stir through.

Divide the batter between all cupcake cases and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a cake tester (a tooth pick will also do) comes out clean.

Leave to cool and start on your vanilla buttercream.

Mix your butter and icing sugar together with the vanilla and mix until soft and fluffy.

Pour the buttercream into a piping bag with a swirl nozzle then pipe buttercream mounds onto each cupcake.


To make the cottages:

Begin by mixing the flour with the baking soda and leave to one side.

Heat the golden syrup, sugar and spices until melted, then add the butter and let it melt slowly into the hot mixture.

Create a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the warm mixture, combining it all together with your hands.

Knead the dough together to create a smooth dough then shape into a ball and wrap into cling film. Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While your dough is chilling draw and cut out your templates. I found an amazing template from Sainsburys which you may also find useful.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and take your chilled dough and roll out onto a floured surface until 5mm thick.

For each cottage you need 2x Front panels, 2x side and 2 x roof. Cut round your template and lay them out onto a lined baking tray.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges, then use a palette knife to lift from the baking tray and onto the cooling rack.

Once cooled assemble your houses with royal icing and decorate as you wish.

Leave to one side for the icing to set then place a cottage on top of each cupcake with a dusting of icing sugar for good measure.

Lavender & White Chocolate Cupcakes

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It’s finally lavender season and although I’ve admittedly had this Lavender and White Chocolate recipe stashed away for a few months, it’s because I couldn’t face posting it until the timing was right. The wait was completely worth it though as I had the pleasure of shooting with them in the Mayfield Lavender fields and oh my did they shine.

I’ve always been super wary of lavender in food as I feared it would just wind up tasting like soap or air freshener. Shows how much I know as it tasted anything but, and I’m so glad I had that initial opinion as thinking one thing then tasting another is kind of mind blowing.

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What changed my mind about using it in this bake was simple, I liked the idea. It sounded fancy. Like one of those flavours you’d get over tea with the queen. I also love lavender, so with that I decided to taste test the idea during an event. Now I can never judge a bakes success on my own personal opinion as I’m far too self critical. Truth be told I wasn’t sure they would be a hit at all BUT they were almost as popular as my chocolate orange cupcakes which is a huge achievement.

Now there are a few ways to do this whole lavender business. First, there is lavender extract, which is currently what I use as it makes life easy. It also lasts forever as you only need a few drops to create the flavour.

The other option is dried edible lavender. I haven’t used this yet, but have been informed it gives a more subtle flavour and when used in biscuits you gain the novelty of having real lavender pieces chopped into food.

The White chocolate sponge in these cakes is one thing but it’s my lavender cream cheese frosting that takes these up a notch. They’re fresh, decadent, pretty on the eyes and delicious to eat, so before all this beautiful lavender has gone for another year, quick get out there and try them yourself!!


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Makes|12 cupcakes

Preparation time|30 minutes

Baking time| 40 minutes


White Chocolate sponge

175g unsalted butter

175g caster sugar

3 large free-range eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

175g self-raising flour

200g cooks white chocolate, melted

100g white chocolate chips

 

Lavender Cream Cheese Frosting

200g cream cheese

400g icing sugar

5 drops lavender essence

Sugarflair lavender colour paste

Stems of fresh Lavender for decoration


Preheat the oven to 145C and line your cupcake tray with cupcake cases.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy then one by one crack in each egg, mixing well in-between. Add the vanilla extract and melted white chocolate then mix to combine.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and fold through the mixture until smooth. Coat the white chocolate chips with flour (this stops them from sinking during bake) and delicately fold through the mixture.

Divide between all cupcake cases and bake slow for about 40 minutes, checking after 30. They’re ready when golden-brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack for an hour

For Lavender Cream Cheese Frosting

Beat together the icing sugar and butter together until smooth.

Add the cream cheese, 5 drops of lavender essence and colour paste then whip all together until you have a lavender, lump free, velvety consistency. Add more lavender essence and colour to taste if necessary.

Scoop into your piping bag, tipped with your favourite choice of nozzle (here I chose the Wilton 2D rose nozzle from Lakeland)  and pipe away.

Decorate with fresh, washed stems of lavender

Popcorn & Salted Caramel Cupcakes

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We were told time and time again how long and tedious the house buying process was, but for some reason I always imagined it would run smoothly when our time came…have I ever told you I’m a dreamer?

It’s been almost 6 months of waiting, and while this is almost average in the length it takes, it feels like time has paused. Liam has been handling most of the paperwork, and to be honest I’ve left him to it, too many cooks and all that. Instead I’ve been focusing on the more fun things, such as decoration, and I’m itching to start shopping.

We have our eyes on the most beautiful sofas from Next Home, a two-seater and one snuggler chair, both equally perfect for those lazy movie nights. In our flat, unlike the vast majority, our movie nights were on a Sunday. To be more precise they were more like long movie afternoons and involved the usual suspects; popcorn, chocolate and plenty of tea.

Popcorn and tea were never much of a combination, but when you slather said popcorn over a salted caramel cupcake all kinds of wonderful things occur.

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Popcorn cupcakes

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Makes|12 cupcakes

Preparation time|1 hour

Baking time| 25 minutes


Salted Caramel

75g Caster Sugar

2 tbsp Water

75g Light Muscovado Sugar

50g Unsalted Butter

100ml Double Cream

1/2tsp Flaked Salt

Vanilla & Brown Sugar Cupcake

175g unsalted butter

175g light muscavado sugar

3 large free-range eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

175g self-raising flour

Sweet and Salty popcorn for decoration

 

Salted Caramel Buttercream

160g salted butter, softened

200g icing sugar

Salted Caramel (see recipe here)


Start by making your salted and leave to one side – see my recipe here

 Preheat the oven to 170C and line your cupcake tray with cupcake cases.

Cream the butter and muscovado sugar together until light and fluffy then one by one crack in each egg, mixing well in-between. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and fold through the mixture until smooth.

Divide between all cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes until golden-brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack for an hour (or overnight in tupperware)

 

For Salted Caramel Buttercream

Cream the butter and icing sugar together until smooth then add ¾ of the salted caramel mixture, leaving ¼ for drizzling at the end.

Scoop into a piping bag with your chosen nozzle and pipe a small mound of icing on top.

Decorate the cupcakes with popcorn until the icing is completely covered then drizzle with the remaining salted caramel.

Heavenly