Here’s something very simple, and very easy to knock up for expected (or unexpected) guests over the Christmas period.
Every recipe I followed when I started baking started with creaming butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Only since I started blogging have I really learnt that even that means leaving it mixing for at least 5 minutes. Learning to bake cakes from this method means that any time I have a recipe that instructs me to put everything in the mixer at once, or mix the sugar and egg instead of the butter, I am completely thrown.
This recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook asks for just that. Throw all the dry ingredients in until everything is combined and then add the wet ingredients. I wish I knew the science behind the cakes started with creaming, and why some recipes use alternate methods. Until I find out, I guess I’ll just have to trust the bakers who develop and write, particularly this recipe for chocolate cupcakes that flew off my table before I even had the chance to try one.
The recipe is for chocolate cupcakes, but I didn’t have any cupcake cases so instead doubled up the amount in each case and voila, muffins.
The Hummingbird recipe asks for their chocolate frosting on top, but I think a Baileys substitute is much more appropriate for the season! I didn’t manage to get a picture of them frosted but you’ll have to trust they were beautiful.
100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g icing sugar, sifted
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
30g cocoa power, sifted
60ml (4 tablespoons) Baileys Original Irish Cream
a 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.
Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
Whisk the milk, egg and vanilla extract together in a jug, then slowly pour about half into the flour mixture, beat to combine and turn the mixer up to high speed to get rid of any lumps.
Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and slowly pour in the remaining milk mixture. Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix. I didn’t need to mix for ‘a couple more minutes’ so keep an eye on your mix.
Spoon the mixture into paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
For the Baileys frosting, beat the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together on a medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Add the Baileys one tablespoon at a time. Once all the liquid has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The longer the beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
When the cupcakes are cool, decorate with your chosen frosting. Enjoy with a glass of the good stuff.
Get lots more Christmas baking inspiration here: