I take my joys when and where I can. Christmas didn’t excite me as much as a kid as it does as an adult now for some reason. Probably because I’m in a constant state of arrested development as as adult and the comfy blanket of festive cheer reverts me back to zero responsibilities and cake. No, you’re the one with issues…
I also have a too-much-gene where I don’t know when enough is enough when it comes to decorations. This amount of kitsch is still not enough for me even though I have miniature gingerbread men and stars coming out the wazoo. Feel free to pare down and go for a more elegant approach if you feel the need. You can even be austere enough to leave them plain but when is Christmas ever the time to be plain and simple?
Did I mention how easy these are to whip up? A simple melt, mix and pour, these can also be made (as the original recipe intends) as a slice or loaf cake if you prefer. Again, for me, too much is never enough and I’ve really pushed the boat out with these and converted them into over the top cupcakes.
While these look like they’re going to be dense little things I can assure you they are the lightest, most fluffiest sponge you’ll ever eat. Gently scented with ginger and speculaas spices with a rich yet fluffy icing. One is more than enough but with that light as air sponge it hardly feels like you’re eating anything at all. One note, please use vanilla bean paste for the icing as you really do need that full bodied flavour to be harmonious with the cake itself, no time for an insipid essence here, thank you very much. Now onwards we go.
This recipe is an adaptation of a ginger bread loaf recipe found in Tanya Burr’s Tanya Bakes cookbook. You can find a copy here
100 grams of unsalted butter, cubed (for easy melting)
1/2 cup of golden syrup (you can use treacle for a more dense flavour)
3/4 cup of self raising flour
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of speculaas spice (if you’re in Aus I get mine from here https://gewurzhaus.com.au/)
3/4 cup of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of bicarb
150 ml of milk (full cream)
1 egg (large)
pinch of salt
80 grams soft unsalted butter
2 cups of icing sugar (sifted)
50 grams of soft cream cheese
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
a splash or two of milk, go by eye and consistency
Set your oven to 180 degrees celsius and line your cupcake tin. In a saucepan combine the golden syrup and butter. Melt over a low heat until combined and syrupy. Set aside to cool slightly while you get on with your dry ingredients.
Sift your flour into a bowl and add your caster sugar.
On top of this add your spices. I should have probably sifted as you can see here my ginger was a bit lumpy.
Whisk this mixture together until fully combined. Be a bit thorough here as you want the sugar to be easily melted once the liquids are added.
Slowly pour in the melted butter and syrup and gently stir until a lumpy mixture forms. Don’t fret, this will soon become a smooth batter once you finish adding your wet ingredients.
In a small bowl or cup, whisk together your milk and egg until the egg is combined. Doing this ensures the egg is evenly distributed amongst the batter and ensures a shorter mixing time, thus a lighter batter that isn’t overworked.
Pour this into your other mixture and whisk until you get a smooth batter.
Next up, is filling your cupcake cases. A quick note here, while you may think I’ve chosen these red cases for their festive cheer, I’ve actually chosen these as they’re foil based. This is quite a buttery mixture so you need something that will hold up to it. I wouldn’t use paper cases as they will have a soggy bottom (and we never want that) and may not look as aesthetically appealing. While this normally wouldn’t bother me (I’m all about taste and flavour in the end) a cupcake really is about the looks at the end of the day. Thank you for listening to my cupcake cases TED talk.
Fill you cases 3/4 of the way up. This is important as you want a flat surface to ice and these have a tendency to spread out easily, thanks to the added lift from the extra bicarb in the mixture.
I tend to use an icecream scoop as it is easy to get even measurements this way. You can always pour the mixture into a jug if you don’t have one and pour out into the cases that way. A spoon may be a tad difficult with such a runny batter.
Bake for 15-18 minutes and check with a cake tester or toothpick that no batter sticks. These tend to bake quicker than you think but ovens can vary so much and yours may take a tad longer.
Keep an eye on them and pull them out when they look like they do above, all wonderfully golden brown and risen.
Leave in the tin for 10 minutes and then pull them out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. While they’re calming down from oven fun, get on with making your icing.
Beat together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla bean paste until well combined and fluffy.
Next sift in the icing sugar and keep beating away. I’d suggest you use either a hand whisk or free standing mixer. You want this really light and fluffy and your hand may fall off if you do it with a whisk.
You may need to add a splash or two of milk to get the right fluffiness. Go by eye and feel until its smooth and creamy.
Now comes the over the top and too muchness stage. I used these kids gingerbread organic biscuits but you could always make your own if you had a mini cutter. If I didn’t find these I would have just stuck to my festive sprinkles.
If you can’t find any festive sprinkles feel free to use whatever you feel like. You can always grab red sprinkles now days from supermarkets and no one would turn their nose up at that.
Happily decorate away on your cooled cupcakes until they’re all decorated. If you like you can also pipe the icing on for a more polished look but this style suits me fine.
These cupcakes will last up to a week, un-iced, in the fridge, sealed in a airtight container. Iced they will last as long as you have hungry people in your home.
I think these would be great to take into a work morning tea or meeting or just to have knocking about the house for those constant caller-inners at this time of the year. I mean, how could these not warm the hearts of the scroogiests of scrooges?