IT'S CHRISTMAAAAAAS. Finally it feels appropriate to pull the party poppers, drink the mulled cider and deck the halls. It's time to celebrate with bells on. Although I'm the merriest of merry Christmas lovers, I still don't feel like I've reach the point where I need to go the whole hog and feed a cake, steam a pud and tinsel a tree.
I'll get there in not too many years I'm sure, but our micro-flat is not reeeeally Christmas hosting material, so a wreath and garland made after a good forage in the park takes the place of the tree. And instead of the soaking and steeping and religiously dolling out brandy to a big thirsty cake, it seems more appropriate to knock up a batch of these Cheerful Christmas Cupcakes.
Another season...another vegetable cake, and they really do have a Christmas cake hat on. Fruit, spices, brandy- there's no omissions that could leave one craving more merriment. They're unashamedly festive, and perfect for sharing and parties, unlike a traditional Christmas cake which sometimes, I think, has an air of pompousness about him; all poshly jacketed and brandy fueled.
Nothing 'brandy and cigar-y' about these lovelies, just cheeryness and sparkles. So whip up a batch and spread the joy (Cath Kidston Cupcake cases optional- but if you happen to be given some by a fabulous Secret Santa, even better). With Love and Cake.
From Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood, my vegecake bible.
A few notes:
- I tried and failed to make a lovely airy, shiny meringue icing. I 'stiff-upper-lipped' it and didn't have a kitchen-based meltdown (a not uncommon occurrence), but I wont tell you the recipe until I know how to make it work, so for now I'll give you a lovely traditional icing sugar drizzle.
- If you don't fancy forking out for a bottle of brandy especially for this, you could use any sort of spirit really...I've used sloe gin before. Or just use some orange juice.
You will need
a 12 hole fairycake tin, lined with cases
120g candied peel
4 tbsp brandy
100g dark Muscovado sugar
1/4 tsp salt
200g carrot, veryvery finely grated
grated zest of 1 lemon
100g plain flour
50g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
a pinch nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
60g glace cherries, halved
60g pecans, roughly chopped
200g icing sugar
3 tbsp water
- Preheat the oven to 180 °c.
- Soak the sultanas and peel in the brandy while you get on with the rest of the recipe.
- In a nice big bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and salt together with an electric hand whisk for a good 3 minutes, until light coffee coloured and nice and voluminous.
- Beat in the carrot and lemon zest, and then fold in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and spices.
- Finally stir in the brandy soaked fruit.
- Divide the mixture equally between the cases and bake for around 25 minutes, until risen and golden.
- Once cooked, remove the cakes from the tin and cool on a wire wrack.
- While the cakes are cooling, mix the icing sugar and enough of the water together to make a drizzly paste.
- When, and only when, the cupcakes are 100% cool, drizzle over the icing and adorn with anything edible and shiney.