Category Archives: Cupcakes and Muffins

Pumpkin Spice Muffins/ Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

I always save the pumpkin flesh from my pumpkins when I’m carving them for Halloween. This is the advantage of growing your own pumpkins as a shop bought pumpkin usually has little flavour but if you can choose your variety you can get the best of both worlds. Although, to be honest, the spice in this mix means this would taste great even with a less flavoursome pumpkin!

These can be treated as either cupcakes or muffins, with icing it’s a cupcake, without it’s a nice, moist spicy muffin. The icing takes it to another level but it’s still delicious without.

This recipe makes an awkward 18 so what I did was make 12 cupcakes and 6 mini brioche shapes, which are great for a nice grab and go breakfast option.

Makes 18 cupcakes (or un-iced it’s a muffin!)

• 2 large eggs

• ¼ cup (59ml) milk

• 1 cup (236ml) vegetable oil

• 50g  butter, melted

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• 270g pumpkin puree*

• 200g dark brown sugar

• 90g granulated sugar

• 350g plain flour

• 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

• 1 tsp salt

• 2 tsp ground cinnamon

• 1 tsp mixed spice

• ¼ tsp nutmeg

⁃ Heat the oven to 170°C and line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper liners and an extra 6 either cupcakes or a silicone tray if that’s easier.

⁃ Beat together the eggs, oil, melted butter milk and vanilla essence.

⁃ Add your pumpkin and sugars and mix well.

⁃ Add the flour, bicarb, salt and spices and fold in until totally incorporated. Try to to over mix but get all the flour broken down.

⁃ Pour into lined or silicone muffin holes.

⁃ Bake for 20 minutes until the cake is set and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

⁃ Leave to cool before icing.

*Steamed Pumpkin

– Cut your pumpkin flesh into rough chunks the same size and steam them in a vegetable steamer for 15 minutes until a knife inserted goes in smoothly.

– Mash the soft pumpkin flesh with a fork or a potato masher until smooth.

Salted caramel buttercream

• 100g unsalted butter (softened)

• 200g icing sugar

• 1 tbsp milk

• 4 tbsp salted caramel

⁃ Beat together all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until smooth.


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Very Berry Breakfast Muffins

These Very Berry Breakfast Muffins are nothing less than an experiment in how much summer fruit it is possible to cram into a muffin and still maintain structural integrity! (About 300g as it turns out.)

The summer fruits are cropping heavily with cherries, raspberries, strawberries all ready now and the blueberries soon to ripen (confession: some bought blueberries went in here too!)

I am the furthest thing away from a morning person it is possible to be so easy, quick to ‘grab and go’ breakfasts are a must for me. These are packed full of homegrown fruit and the oats add a nice breakfasty touch too! You can whip them up in about 30 minutes start to finish too, which is always nice!

Makes 8

50g dark muscoavdo sugar
125ml milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
40g butter, melted and cooled
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
~300g mixed summer fruits (can use frozen if fresh not available!)

8tsp porridge oats

8tsp Demerara sugar

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C and prepare 8 holes of a muffin tin with paper cases. 
– Beat together the sugar, milk, egg and vanilla essence then add the butter and beat again. 
– Add the flour, baking powder and salt into the mixture.
– Fold in gently. 
– Add the fruits and stir in to the mixture to evenly distribute.  
– Divide the mixture evenly between the cases. 

⁃ Sprinkle the top of each muffin with a teaspoon each of oats and Demerara sugar.
– Bake for 25 minutes. (Check after 20)
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little in the tin then place on a wire rack to cool completely or serve warm. These will be much less stable when warm but the berries taste amazing!

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Ombré Birthday Cake

For my Birthday BBQ I made a 3 Layer Pink Ombre Cake and a dozen cupcakes as favours too!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

I’m really happy with how it turned out!  I’ve never tried anything like it before but I was pleased to see how my technique worked out!  I wanted to minimise waste and washing up so I came up with my own way of creating this cake effect.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

Everyone seemed to enjoy it anyway, there was barely any left by the end of the evening!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

I made a huge batch of cake mixture…

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

…And about 2kg of buttercream!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

The colours worked wonderfully!  Nice and vibrant!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

I tried to keep things nice and tidy, having assembled the layers I then piped round to fill in the gaps.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

Which meant that I had a smooth surface to spread the rest of the icing over.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

So here’s how I did it:

Makes 1 x 3 layer 7″ Layer Cake and 12 Cupcakes

500g unsalted butter, softened
500g golden caster sugar
8 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
500g self raising flour
3 tbsp milk
pink gel good colouring*  (I have that awful salmon pink one so you need to add violet to make it a nicer colour!)
grape violet gel food colouring*

500g unsalted butter, softened
1 kg icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk

1 jar seedless raspberry jam

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4.  Prepare 3 7″ sandwich tins (I use silicone as they come out flatter and are easier to turn out.) Line 12 muffin holes with paper cases.
– Cream together the butter and sugar in a LARGE mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
– Add one egg at a time, mixing well between additions.
– Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
– Fold in the flour until all combined with the wet ingredients.
– Add the 3 tbsp milk and mix well.
– Fill each cupcake case to halfway with cake batter.
– Put 1/3 of the remaining white batter in the first greased cake tin.
– Add a bit of the pink colouring about the size of a sweetcorn kernel along with a slightly smaller amount of the grape violet and mix thoroughly into the batter to achieve a light pink colour.  * If using nicer food colouring then use your judgement on the blend you want.
– Put 1/2 this mixture in the second cake tin.
– Add more pink colouring and more violet colouring and mix well to get a really deep colour.
– Put this remaining cake batter in the final tin.
– Put everything in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
– Turn out your cakes upside down onto cooling racks and take the cupcakes out of the tin to cool.

– Put the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and milk in a LARGE mixing bowl and beat until thoroughly combined, light and airy.

To assemble the cakes:

– Trim any domes from your cake layers to give you flat cakes.
– Put a smear of buttercream on the base of the cake stand or plate.
– Place the darkest layer flat bottom up on the cake stand or plate.
– Spread with an even layer of buttercream.
– Spread raspberry jam on the top of the lighter layer.
– Place the jam side on top of the buttercream.
– Spread another layer of buttercream over the flat bottom of the lighter layer.
– Spread raspberry jam over the top of the white layer.
– Place the jam side on top of the buttercream.
– Fill a piping bag with white buttercream and make a 1/2″ hole to pipe from.
– Pipe around the cake between the layers to fill in any dips or gaps between the cakes layers.
– Smooth round this with a palette knife to make a smooth sided cake.
– Spread a good amount of white buttercream over the top of the cake and down over the edges using a palette knife to spread a smooth even layer of white buttercream over the whole cake.
– Now take about a cup of buttercream from the main mixture and put it in a separate bowl.
– Add pink and grape violet food colouring to acheive a nice deep raspberry pink colour.
– Put it in a piping bag with a 1/2″ hole.
– Pipe a ring of pink buttercream around the base of the cake.
– Now take a pallette knife and spread the pink buttercream up the side of the cake in small swirling circles so the dark pink melds with the white to give that faded ombre effect.  Don’t swirl all the way to the top, only go about 2/3 up and leave a nice band of clean white buttercream at the top.

– Take some raspberry jam and put it in a squeezy bottle with a cone tip.
– Inject jam into the centre of each cupcake.
– Take the remaining buttercream and put it in a piping bag with a large star tip.
– Ice each cupcake with a swirl of buttercream covering the jam hole in the centre.
– Add sprinkles white the buttercream is wet.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake





Filed under Cakes, Cupcakes and Muffins, Moderately easy

Bonfire Cupcakes

Bonfire Cupcake


Bonfire Night is nearly upon us!  We had our village bonfire last light (and it was a good one, especially the plastic marquee nearly catching fire from the sparks!) with some spectacular fireworks too!  I love Bonfire Night, its a weirdly primal thing, standing around a huge fire in a field with your village eating hot dogs and jacket potatoes… well, may be not so primal there!


From about the beginning of October I get obsessed with Gingerbread.  I just love it!  It’s such a unique taste and texture, my body just craves it around this time of year.  Little did I know there was a way to improve it!



Gingerbread cupcakes!!! The gingerbread recipe transfers so well to cupcake form, it doesn’t get too dry or heavy, stays nice and lights and chewy!  Add to that speculoos buttercream and you have one of  the tastiest things I’ve eaten all year!


Makes 12

2 cups self raising flour
1 cup light soft brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup milk
1 tbsp butter/lard/Trex
2 tbsp golden syrup (One BIG dollop on a spoon works)

200g unsalted butter, softened
400g icing sugar
2 tbsp milk
5 tbsp speculoos paste (Could go with 1 tsp cinnamon if you can’t get hold of the paste but that stuff is delicious and well worth the effort!)
red food colouring paste
red edible glitter
chocolate sprinkles and shards (Matchmakers are perfect here but I didn’t have any!)

– Heat the oven to gas mark 3 / 200C and prepare a muffin tin with paper liners (I like the brown ones best here.)
– Measure out the flour, sugar, ginger and bicarb into a large mixing bowl.
– Measure out the milk, butter and golden syrup into a small saucepan.
– Bring the milk just to the boil, melting all of the butter and syrup.
– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and give a good mix around until you have a smooth, spongy batter.
– Divide equally between the cupcake cases.  You want to be filling them just over about halfway up.
– Bake for 20 minutes.
– Put the butter, icing sugar, milk and speculoos paste in a medium mixing bowl and beat well until a smooth buttercream is formed.

Now there are several ways to do this next bit:
– Paint a stripe of red food colouring paste up the inside of a piping bag in several lines.  Fill the bag as normal and pipe your icing onto your cupcakes.
– Add a bit of red colouring to your bowl and marble it so you have swirls of red.
– Use one of those two colour piping bags from Lakeland… this is what I did and I will never do it again, it was a nightmare!
I suggest the first method as probably the most reliable.

– Ice your cupcakes using a large star tip and then sprinkle the top with red edible glitter.  Get them nice and high, there’s plenty of buttercream here so don’t be afraid!
– Add small chocolate sprinkles and larger shards of broken chocolate as logs.
– Feast!


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Nigella’s Italian Banana Bread Muffins With Nutella

I’ve been working my way through Nigellissima, Nigella Lawson’s latest offering. One of the recipes people kept mentioning was the Italian Banana Bread so I thought I’d give it a go. Now, first off, the ‘Italian’ aspect is that there’s espresso in there. I have to admit I didn’t think that the espresso necessarily added that much to it. However, it is a gorgeous banana bread! Moist, springy and flavoursome.

The notes said that it would make 12 muffins, which it did, just. I wanted these for breakfasts and for me breakfast means portable. I also decided that, true to form, banana bread on its own was delicious but I always want some chocolate in there. My favourite trick with muffins is to add a teaspoon of Nutella to the middle for a gorgeous gooey chocolaty centre so that’s exactly what I did!

Makes 12

150ml rapeseed oil
3 very ripe medium bananas (I mean BLACK!)
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 eggs
150g golden caster sugar
175g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 jar Nutella

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C.
– Put 12 paper cases in a 12 hole muffin tin.
– Take a large Pyrex jug or bowl and mash up the bananas with a fork along with the vanilla extract and salt.
– Beat in the oil. Keep mixing, it’ll happen!
– Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between additions.
– In a small bowl mix the flour, bicarb and espresso powder together until they’re even combined.
– Mix the flour mixture into the banana mixture until all the floury bits disappear. There will still be banana chunks in there so you’re not aiming for totally smooth.
– Divide the batter evenly between the paper cases.
– Dollop a teaspoon of Nutella in the centre of each muffin.
– Bake for 20-25 minutes until the muffins are set and a beautiful deep golden brown.
– Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.


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Easter Bunny Cupcakes

These aren’t a recipe but I have been waiting for months to make these and, as tomorrow is the last day I will be in the office before Easter, I had to make them today!


The basic cupcake base is just my usual vanilla sponge (250g each of butter, sugar and self raising flour, 5 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla = 16 cupcakes) and the buttercream is also my regular vanilla but with the addition of green food colouring paste. The decorations are Malteser mini Malteaster bunnies and mini mini eggs, which are available from most supermarkets. These are just as cute as I had hoped so I just had to share them here, despite not really being a new recipe at all.

Hope you all have a great Easter break! The Queen is visiting York on Thursday so I’ve taken the day off work to go see her. Yay, extra long weekend for me!

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Banana Muffins

I never thought I would like banana bread, or muffins, or any cooked banana thing.  I always assumed it would be like eating an over ripe banana, which you are, furthermore, a warm over ripe banana!  However, what else is one supposed to do with the seriously over ripe bananas that innevitably languish in the fruit bowl at some point?  There is only one thing!  And so, I decided to try it as a muffin.  I won’t deny I thought “Oh well, if I don’t like them then I can always take them into work.” 

I did, in the end, take these into work, but this was in order to share the joy not to get rid of them!  So win win!  I have made these both with chocolate chips and without.  If you are being healthy, then they are delightful without… however, if you are a sweet stuff junkie, like myself, then you may eat the whole thing going “I wish there was chocolate in this… it’s delicious, but I wish there was chocolate!”  They are delicious and moist and not at all slimy in the least.*  I was shocked!  Furthermore the banana flavour changes to something rather delightful, still banana but… different.  All in all I’m rather glad I tried these. 

Makes 6

125ml milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 very ripe bananas
3 tbsp sunflower oil
50g dark muscoavdo sugar
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
(~180g bag chocolate chips
demerera sugar for sprinkling)

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and prepare 6 holes of a muffin tin. 
– Peel, slice and then mash up the bananas in a large jug or small bowl using a fork.  Reserve a few slices of banana for decoration.*  You don’t need to puree them, some small lumps are fine. 
– Add the milk, egg, vanilla essence and oil and beat together. 
– In a separate bowl mix the sugar,  flour, baking powder and salt together. 
– Pour in the banana mixture and stir until the mixture is just combined.  You don’t want a smooth mixture, lumps are good!
(- Add the chocolate chips and quickly stir thorough.  )
– Divide the mixture evenly between the cases. 
– Garnish with banana slices if using. 
(- Sprinkle a bit of demerera sugar on top of the muffin for a delightful crunch on top.) 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little in the tin then place on a wire rack to cool completely or serve warm. 

* I put banana slices on the top of mine for aesthetic purposes.  If you are going to eat these fairly quickly (a day or may be two, max) then keep the decorative slices, simply reserve a few slives when chopping up your bananas and pop them on top before baking.  If, however, you want to keep these around for longer then don’t put the banana on it as it will go slimey and may even develop mould spots!

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My Birthday!

Ok, so I’m rather late in posting about this but things have been hectic.  As you’ll see in the previous post we had a picnic for my birthday, which was lovely, but we all know that Birthdays are about CAKE!!!

My mum makes me a special cake every year.  I’ve been taking a patchwork and quilting class recently and so that was the theme of my cake.  I’ve been trying to create a similar patterned cushion but the cat keeps sleeping on it so it’s slow going!

I also took cakes into the office on Wednesday, and I got some excellent feedback!  People kept telling me I was in the wrong job, I have to agree but I can’t fund a bakery of my own just yet so I’ll stay for now!

I went with basic vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with vanilla and chocolate buttercream and a lemon glace icing for a slightly lighter option. 

I decorated them in various ways, caramel hearts, malteasers, white chocolate stars, chocolate sprinkles, sugar flowers, sugar hearts and edible ball bearings with silver smarties. 

The recipes are just my usual sponge cupcakes with buttercream and glace icing and the decorations were from my, ever growing, collection.  I’m especially fond of the vanilla buttercream as I used a new nozzle for piping it, a very large closed one, I really liked how it came out.  My absolute favourites are the chocolate cakes with vanilla buttercream and flowers.  I may have to make more of these soon simply for the aesthetics!

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Tea Muffins

Last time I had a go at earl grey tea muffins I was overall unimpressed.  They were’t sweet enough, or tea-ey enough.  Today I addressed these problems by mashing together my two basic muffin recipes to make the new and improved tea muffins!  I have removed the Earl Grey part of the name as I used a random tea bag (could have been PG Tips, could have been Twinings Everyday, who knows!) and some of my favourite leaf tea, Orange Pekoe.  But just go with what you have to hand and like. 

I’ve had the flavour I want to acheive in my head for days.  I’m a fan of very sweet, very milky but strong tea (3 if not 4 sweetners! I used to have 3 sugars before I realised just how much sugar that was!)  I think I’m almost there with this one.  They’re still not amazing but they’re a muffin.  It’s rather hard to be blown away by a muffin.  What they are is sweet, gently tea flavoured and pleasant to eat.  They’re excellent warm and very good cold, they’ve got a nice texture to them (rather spongy and squishy thanks to the buttermilk) and all in all a good muffin to add the collection. 

Makes 6

150ml milk, hot
1 tea bag
1 tbsp lemon juice
150g self raising flour
50g light muscovado sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 heaped tsp ground tea leaves (use a pestle and mortar)
1 egg
2 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing

– Place the teabag in the hot milk and leave to steep so that the milk goes a rich tea colour.  (Alternatively place the teabag in cold milk the night before you want to make the muffins.)
– Once steeped remove the tea bag and add the lemon juice.  Leave to stand. 
– Heat the oven to gas mark 5. 
– In a mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and ground tea leaves until well mixed. 
– Add the egg and oil to the milk and beat until combined. 
– Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and then tip the wet ones in.
– Mix until just combined but still lumpy.  But make sure there are no pockets of flour.   
– Well oil 6 holes of a muffin tin.  (Or use cases if your tin isn’t non-stick)
– Divide the mixture equally between the holes. 
– Bake near the top of the oven for 20-25 minutes until a pcik inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
– Remove from the oven and quickly run a knife round the edge of the muffin to loosen it.  Allow to stand for a minute or two then turn out and cool on a wire rack. 
– Either eat as soon as they have cooled sufficiently or leave to cool completely on the rack.  Store in an airtight box. 

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Vanilla Cupcakes With White Chocolate Buttercream

A few weeks ago I was browsing in the Chinese supermarket and came across a bag full of rose buds in the tea section.  Now I’ve had flower teas before that a Japanese friend brought back from a business trip to China but I’d never had rose tea.  To be honest my mind didn’t come round to making tea with them for a while and I’m still not convinced but my first thought was “OMG, those would look adorable on cupcakes!”  I was really just waiting for the opprotunity, which presented itself last night. 

I thought of using rose water in the cake part but I bought a bottle and one whiff put me off that plan.  Roses are for looking pretty and smelling, not tasting!  I may yet come around and find a use for that rose water but I’m not holding my breath.  I had been thinking of making a white chocolate buttercream to go with the imagined rose cake.  I have no idea why as I didn’t know what rose water tasted like but in my head they went well together.  As it was it was absolutely delicious with vanilla cake.  I’m afraid the photo doesn’t really do them justice for how cute they are as these are the last 4 in existence… we sort of ate the rest. 

Makes 24 smaller muffin/bun cases

For the cake:
250g unsalted butter
250g golden caster sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g self raising flour

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4 and line 2 12 hole muffin tins with small sized muffin liners. 
– Cream together the butter and the sugar in a large mixing bowl. 
– Beat the eggs and vanilla together in a jug. 
– Gradually add the egg a splash at a time, mixing well between additions. 
– Fold in the flour until totally combined. 
– Divide the mixture equally between the paper cases, filling about half full. 
– Bake for 20 minutes, either swapping the trays over after 10 minutes or moving the bottom tray up for an extra 5 minutes  at the end. 
– Remove from the tins and leave to cool completely. 

White Chocolate Buttercream

130g white chocolate
180g unsalted butter
190g icing sugar

– Break the chocolate into small chunks and place in a small bowl over a pan of boiling water.  Leave it to melt. Then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. 
– In a medium sized mixing bowl cream together the butter and icing sugar until there are no lumps left. 
– Add the melted chocolate to the bowl and mix well.  If the mixture seems a little too soft then just add another spoon of icing sugar and mix it in. 

– Pipe the icing onto the cakes amd decorate as you wish!


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