In the lead up to Christmas my office goes a little bit food mad. We start to see the first boxes of Celebrations and Quality Streets around mid-November and we’re surrounded from then.
Our banks of desks get filled with trays of biscuits, sweets, baking and all manner of naughty things to share. ‘Tis the season after all.
This year we added to the food marathon by hosting a Christmas Bake sale. It was the fourth we have held this year in support of our colleague who has run 12 marathons for Macmillan Cancer Support this year. A pretty amazing feat so the least I could do was bake in support.
Oh who am I kidding? I don’t need any excuse to bake I’m just happy to have willing eaters so baking for a good cause is a win-win for me. Over the year I have taken in my Afghans, banana loaf and scones but for Christmas I knew I wanted to try something festive.
Hunting through my growing collection of recipe books I came across this recipe by Hummingbird Bakery in their Cake Days Recipe Book. I have modified it slightly as I didn’t have any molasses. I also made the cupcakes much smaller than the recipe called for (so there was more to sell) and they turned out fine.
I decorated the top by rolling the freshly iced cupcakes in ground up Gingernut cookies. I thought it might add some crunch, but of course the icing made them go soft pretty soon. I liked the look it gave the cupcakes though and it hid all my icing imperfections so suited me perfectly.
Here is the recipe I used if you want to give these a try, but I also highly recommend buying the cookbook too. There are so many special occasion recipes in there I always find it’s a great inspiration.
For the batter:
140g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
100g golden syrup
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
310g plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
240ml hot milk
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line a muffin tin with muffin cases. 16 for large cupcakes, 24 for smaller ones like I have made.
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the golden syrup, eggs and egg yolks and continue mixing until well combined.
- Sift together flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture, mixing on a low speed and adding in two or three batches, alternating with the hot milk. Continue to mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated and the batter is smooth.
- Divide the batter between muffin cases, filling each one two-thirds full. Pop in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until risen and springy to the touch. For the smaller muffins I checked them after 15 minutes and found them ready then. Allow to cool in the tin for around 10 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
For the icing:
600g icing sugar
100g butter, softened
250g full fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Using an electric mixer beat the butter until soft and white in colour. Add in the cream cheese and beat until well mixed.
- Add in the icing sugar slowly until all combined and smooth.
- Stir in the lemon zest by hand.
- Spread the icing evenly on cupcakes and decorate as desired. If you wish to use the ground Gingernut biscuits then create a ridge with the icing by swirling it around with a flat knife. Put the ground Gingernut crumbs on a flat plate and roll the cupcake lightly in it. Shake off any excess crumbs and leave to set.
Serve with some festive cheer!
I will be making these for many years to come for sure. What is your signature Christmas bake?