Pumpkin Cupcakes

Did you know that 18,000 tons of perfectly edible squash is tipped straight into the bin every Halloween – weighing the same as 1,500 double decker buses.

And rather than throwing it away, Britain’s Halloween celebrators should be turning it into soups, pies and tarts – or, of course, cupcakes!img_0925

I love Halloween. All the ghoulish festivities, parties and dressing up. I also really love the cooking too. In our house, our mum would always cook “Champers”, a dish of mashed “neeps and tatties” with lots of cheese, and, most importantly MONEY hidden inside. Never, during the rest of the year, did we eat our vegetables so eagerly!

When we get chance, we throw a Halloween Party for the kids, giving them chance to dress up and play bobbing apples, feely boxes and spooky games with their friends. In addition to champers and sausages, I have taken to baking Halloween cupcakes using the pumpkin, boiled or steamed and made into puree. Leftover puree can be put into jars or tubs and stored in the fridge or freezer and used for more cupcakes, soup or pumpkin pie.

This recipe comes from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. A mellow pumpkin sponge topped with cream cheese frosting… pretty much a foolproof delicious treat!

This recipe is for mini cupcakes, much more fun than regular cupcake size, and especially deadly as they’re gone in one bite. Mmmm… If you want to, you can scale up the size, just add a couple more minutes to the baking time.

Hummingbird Bakery Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes

120 g plain flour
140 g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
40 g unsalted butter, at room temp
120 ml whole milk
2 eggs
200 g pumpkin puree
1 quantity cream cheese frosting (recipe below)

Directions: Heat oven to 175 C degrees. Mix with an electric mixer: flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and butter. Beat until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in milk and mix well. Add the eggs and mix well. Stir in pumpkin puree by hand until evenly dispersed. Spoon mixture into paper cases until 2/3 full and back for about 12-15 minutes. Do not frost until completely cooled.

Cream Cheese Frosting
300 g icing sugar
50 g unsalted butter, at room temp
125 g cream cheese, cold

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in an electric mixer until well mixed. Add cream cheese and beat until fully incorporated. Continue mixing until frosting is light and fluffy. Frost when cupcakes have cooled. Top with sugarpaste decorations (optional)

 

Happy Baking! Let me know how you get on.

Homemade Elderflower Cordial

imageDepending on where you are in the country, the elderflowers will be beginning to bloom over the next few weeks. So why not pop out in the sunshine for a spot of foraging and make yourself some scrummy Elderflower Cordial?

Here’s my recipe and photos from last year’s batch:

To make 2 x 750ml bottles you will need:
1kg sugar
15-20 elderflower heads
1 orange
1 lemon
1-2 limes

 

Method:
Put 1.5l water and sugar into a saucepan and dissolve before bringing to the boil.
Add the elderflowers. Bring to the boil. Remove from the heat immediately. Leave to steep for approx 12 hours.

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Bring the cordial to the boil. Roughly slice the fruit. Add to the pan. Take off the heat and leave for a further 12 hours (no longer).
Strain through a muslin cloth and pour into warm sterilised bottles.
Keep on the fridge or pasteurise by boiling filled bottles for 20 minutes.image

 

 

 

 

Easy peasy chocolate chunk cookies (gluten free)

These incredibly moreish cookies are scrumptious served warm. It can be made with gluten-free or regular flour. The wheat flour gives a slightly chewier texture to the cookies. If using gluten-free flour, it is wise to add a little xanthan gum to the mixture, otherwise it can be a bit too crumbly.

They are very quick and simple to make and the dough can be made in advance and kept, chilled in the fridge. It can also be rolled into balls and placed in the freezer and baked from frozen; simply add 3 extra minutes to the cooking time.  Continue reading

Blueberry & Lemon Buttermilk Cake

IMG_1422-0I know January is usually a time of cutting back on cakes and other baked goodies, but for me, I can’t wait to get trying out my new Christmas presents. Unsurprisingly enough, most of them end up being food-related.
This year, I treated myself to a bundt tin. I’ve been eyeing them up for a while and now I have one, I’m sure a fair few of my cakes will be doughnut shaped in the coming months!

I baked this recipe for the first time with my five-year-old, who loved all the mixing and gobbling of blueberries. We made a few extra and turned them into the most scrummy blueberry muffins too (same recipe but bake for just 20 minutes). I took this lovely moist cake along to a yoga retreat I attended at the weekend , where I managed to get the lovely Amanda White to take a couple of photos for me. Needless to say, there wasn’t much left at the end of it!

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