On the Fifth Day of Christmas, The Country Kitchen baked for me… …Christmas Cupcakes
Sometimes, regular cake just won’t do. You want something just for you, something private and personal, maybe with a little hint of sparkle or some ridiculously sugary decoration on top that makes your face light up like you were a kid in a sweet shop… enter The Cupcake.
Miranda and Carrie eating cupcakes in SATC
Made famous by that scene in Sex and The City, where Carrie and Miranda are sitting outside the now famous Magnolia Bakery in NYC discussing Carries first crush since she broke up with Big (I’m not obsessed with this show, honest…), while she tries, and fails, to eat a cupcake without covering herself in icing, the whole world has gone cupcake mad. And, I dread to say it, so did I.
Yep, cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes, nothing could satisfy me but a too-cute-for-words vanilla cupcake topped with buttercream icing and sprinkles. I have been trying for years to perfect my cupcake baking skills, and this year I finally cracked it. Hurray! *dances around with joy*
Shipley C of E Primary School, Sussex
Every year there is a Christmas Fayre at the local Primary School in my village, which I attended as a pupil many years ago. I have such fond memories of my time there, and always have a secret smile on my face every time I walk past. A childhood spend messing around in the playground with school friends, running races and playing tag on the playing field, and of course the notorious ‘World Was III’ of 2000, is something I am sure many of us will never forget! Ahh to be a child and so care free and wild… what a life we all had!
So this year when I was asked to provide a bunch of cupcakes and a whole cake for the Christmas Fayre, of course I was delighted and more than happy to donate them! All the money raised at the fayre went towards fund raising for the school, so any contribution I was able to make was something I was very happy to do. And I have to say, seeing all the children having such as fun time and enjoy all the goodies that were on offer was a brilliant start to the winter months.
The first thing I did was bake a batch of my favourite Madagascan Vanilla Cupcakes. These are my all-time favourite and are my go-to recipe for the best cupcakes you will ever taste, but you could use any cupcake recipe you like for these delightfully festive Christmas Cupcakes.
Once the cupcakes were totally cool, it was time to make the buttercream icing and decorate these little beauties!
I started by placing the butter in a large mixing bowl and beating with an electric whisk for a couple of minutes until perfectly smooth.
You should always make sure your butter is nice and soft when you start, otherwise the icing sugar will not mix into it properly and you will find it very difficult to work with. I like to leave my butter to stand at room temperature for at least one hour before I start making any kind of icing with it, otherwise it is just too lumpy and stiff.
Next I measured out the icing sugar and gradually sieved it over the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, while beating with an electric whisk.
It is important to beat at a medium to low speed until all the icing sugar is incorporated, and the mixture has come together and is well mixed. At this point, I turned my beaters down to the lowest possible speed and beat again for a few more minutes until totally smooth and combined.
A great tip for mixing icing sugar into butter is to cover the bowl with cling film and punch a small hole in the middle for the beaters to fit through. Then you can move the beaters around as much as you like without getting totally covered in flying icing sugar, and turning into a doppelgänger of the Snow Queen! We have all been there, but sometimes you just don’t have the time to do-ice your kitchen…
Finally I added vanilla milk, which I made by mixing the all-important Madagascan Vanilla Bean Extract and milk in a separate bowl, before adding to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time and beating well after each addition. Once all the vanilla milk had been mixed in, I turned my electric whisk onto the highest speed and continued to beat until the icing was a light and fluffy texture, which was at least 5 minutes.
I find that the more time you spend adding your ingredients together and mixing, the fluffier and lighter the icing will become. So don’t try and cheat by just throwing it all into a bowl and mixing like mad, it’s not going to work! The best icings are always those which have been made over time and with a whole lot of patience, and not to forget practice. You wouldn’t expect a child to do something perfectly the first time would you, so why do the same with yourself and your icing? “Practice makes perfect” they say…
Now came the fun part – adding the icing on top of my cupcakes and decorating with some adorable Christmas-themed sugar treats I found in my baking cupboard. I chose three types for a bit of variety, but don’t worry if you only have one or two to hand – as long as they are Christmassy it will be fine!
Aren’t these just the sweetest things ever?! I mean, just look at those miniature holly leaves and berries, they are like something out of a fairy book. Maybe Thumbelina has been visiting me…
Not only were these cupcakes gorgeous to look at, they tasted pretty darn good too. I even had a professional chef come and compliment me on how ‘moist and fluffy’ they were – looks like I didn’t do too badly then!
And on that note, here is my guide to the only Christmas Cupcakes you will ever need…
Christmas Cupcakes by The Country Kitchen
- One batch of your favourite cupcakes, preferably vanilla flavour
- 90g Unsalted Butter
- 300g Icing Sugar
- 30ml Whole Milk
- 1 tsp. Madagascan Vanilla Bean Extract
- 12 Edible Sugar Decorations, Christmas-themed
- Make your cupcakes according to your recipe. Any flavour will do, but vanilla works best. While they are baking, leave the butter for the icing to soften by leaving at room temperature for about 1 hour.
- Beat the butter using an electric whisk until it is smooth and lump free.
- Sieve in the icing sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat on a medium to low speed until combined. Turn the speed down to low and mix again for a few more minutes until shiny and smooth.
- In a separate bowl combine the milk and vanilla. Gradually add this to the buttercream, 1 table spoon at a time and beat very well after each addition.
- Once all the vanilla milk has been mixed in, turn the electric whisk up to high and continue to beat for a full five minutes, until a light and fluffy texture is achieved.
- Place a teaspoon of the buttercream icing on top of each cupcake and spread evenly, leaving a slight gap around the edge.
- Decorate each cupcake with a Christmas sugar decoration, sprinkles, or anything else you fancy that is Christmassy, and present to your hungry Christmas elves.
As today is officially the 5th Day of Christmas, I shall once again wish you all a Merry Christmas and I hope you like these festive Cupcakes as much as I do! Please let me know any time you try out any of my recipes or ideas here on The County Kitchen blog, I would love to know what all you fellow bakers are up to.
Happy Baking x