Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Walking in a winter wonderland... with cupcakes

© Alexisassa | Stock Free Images

With all this rain the little’uns are suffering a bit from cabin-fever. I know from bitter experience that that can be dangerous in a room full of exuberant girls, so I thought I’d better occupy them, or pay the price.

First though, we had such a lovely surprise this morning when Tamsyn Murray's newest little one, My So-Called Christmas Carol, joined the creche! Tamsyn, dear, I know you're nervous to leave her but she's already fitting in just fine. In fact, she's quite the storyteller - I think it was Dickens ... something about three ghosts. 

After storytime we did go out to play, but our trip was cut short when Mistletoe in Manhattan, in her excitement, accidentally launched  Santa Maybe off the swing. My fault completely – Mistletoe does sometimes run before she can walk, and I should have explained the mechanics of gravity. Santa wasn’t hurt one bit, and actually quite enjoyed the experience. She said it was just like flying. I’ll be sure to keep her from high places until she’s over this flying phase.

Safely inside, we set about turning the crèche into a twinkly Christmas grotto, and everyone went to work on the decorations. But first, With Love at Christmas dressed everyone in elf costumes from the dressing up box. Red pointy hats and grass green felt shoes with jolly bells, waistcoats embroidered with flowers and stripy tights. Santa Maybe donned her favourite pair of wings, and everyone was ready to begin.

The room was transformed as if by magic. Winter Wonderland filled the crèche with festive snowflakes cut out with her safety scissors and Christmas with Mr Darcy threaded gum drops and marshmallows into garlands for the  Christmas tree. When I complimented her precision she looked at me and said, most seriously, “An artist cannot do anything slovenly.” Goodness, Victoria, are you reading her Jane Austen at bedtime?
Before long we were in a wintry Christmas grotto with twinkling fairy lights over every doorway and window, a magical tree and veritable blizzard of bright snowflakes on every wall.  A Merry Little Christmas got so excited that she had to sit down for a bit. And it was all too much for My So-Called Christmas Carol, who had a little accident and needed her emergency change of clothes. A boil wash should do the trick, Tamsyn, and may I suggest a bath for little Carol tonight?

We worked up quite an appetite after all that work so I thought I’d give the girls a wee baking lesson. I let Meet Me Under the Mistletoe choose the recipe. Of course she went straight for the Magnolia Bakery red velvet cupcakes. I’ve written it out for you, dears, because I have a feeling they’ll be requested at home.

Married by Christmas rallied the little bakers and everyone tried their best, but on reflection, it may not have been the best choice for novices. When I Fall In Love needed some help with the measuring spoons and I’m afraid The Twelve Days to Christmas ate more batter than she should have. Meet Me Under the Mistletoe seems to be getting the hang of baking though, and she decorated the icing all by herself. I don't want us to get ahead of ourselves but we just might see her on the Great British Bakeoff yet.

Magnolia Bakery's red velvet cake with creamy vanilla frosting

(thanks to http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/08/cupcake-recipe)

Makes around 24 cupcakes
For the cakes:
500g plain flour
165g unsalted butter, softened
500g sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tbsp red food colouring
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp salt
330ml buttermilk
1½ tsp cider vinegar
1½ tsp baking soda

For the frosting:
6 tbsp plain flour
440ml milk
450g unsalted butter, softened
450g sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4. In a small bowl, sift the plain flour. Set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about three minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Whisk together the red food colouring, ­unsweetened cocoa powder and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.

Stir the salt in with the buttermilk and add to ­the batter in three parts, ­alternating with flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are fully ­incorporated, but make sure you do not overbeat.
In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda and add to the batter and mix well.
Divide the mixture into cases, then bake each tray of cakes for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 ­minutes. Remove from the tins and cool ­completely on a wire rack before mixing together the frosting ingredients and applying the icing.

Enjoy the cupcakes, dears!
Miss Dewey

1 comment:

  1. Oh, that Mistletoe! I'll make sure she apologises to Santa straight away.


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