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Pumpkin Cupcakes for Halloween

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As it is Halloween, and Tim has gone mad (almost as mad as I go at Christmas), I set out to make some awesome pumpkin cakes for our Halloween party. I am planning on attempting some more marshmallow icing today, and will post an update on how that goes later. But for now, let me share the fun three hours I spent in the kitchen yesterday making not just one batch of cupcakes but also pumpkin bread.

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My first chore, was of course, to scoop out all the pumpkin seeds and then cut/scrape out as much flesh as I could without ruining the pumpkins that Tim will be carving into lanterns tonight. It was a messy job, I can tell you, but still quite enjoyable.

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I then quickly boiled up and mashed the pumpkin flesh. The recipe called for canned pumpkin, but I have no idea where to get that from in the UK and also I enjoyed playing “waste not, want not” by using my pumpkins for both food and decoration.

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I beat the butter with a wooden spoon (not having a mixer as suggested in the recipe) and then creamed in the sugar, before adding half the pumpkin mash I had made to the buttermilk and combining it with the flour/spice mixture and eggs.

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This is how they looked going into the oven. It’s actually the last photo I took as well, because things suddenly got a bit more complicated and taking photos slipped my mind. For you see, while they were baking in the oven I set about cleaning my bowls and utensils so I could make the pumpkin bread and put it in as soon as the cupcakes came out.

So, I have no photos of the bread making process either and I cannot share the bread recipe with you as it isn’t mine to share. The cupcakes are another story, however, as I converted measurements, combined two recipes and made substitutions and so it feels more like “my” recipe than one from someone else’s book. So here goes…

Ingredients

  • 400g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (or approx. 1/4 whole nutmeg, grated)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 100g pumpkin flesh, mashed
  • 2 eggs

The baking process:

  1. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and spices.
  2. In a second bowl, beat the butter until creamy in texture and then add the sugar and vanilla essence, mixing well.
  3. In a smaller bowl or jug, add the buttermilk to the pumpkin mash and mix well. This will help make adding the flesh to the cake batter easier.
  4. Slowly add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, adding flour and the buttermilk/pumpkin mixture as you go along so that the mixture never gets too runny from the wet ingredients or too stiff to mix from the flour.
  5. Once everything is mixed in the cake should have a “dropping consistency” – i.e. if you scoop some up in a spoon and tilt it over, the batter should drop in a smooth motion.
  6. Spoon batter into pre-prepared cupcake moulds. The amount you get will depend on the size of the moulds – I used medium sized cases and got 44 cupcakes.
  7. Place in a preheated oven at 180 Celcius or 350 Fahrenheit for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown and springy to touch.
  8. Allow to cool, decorate and enjoy!

 

I hope that made sense… I shall be back sometime soon with an update on the decorating.

 

SpongeBob Cakes and Marshmallow Icing

Meet SpongeBob

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It was Tim’s birthday last Friday and we were supposed to be going to an old-fashioned kiddies party on the Saturday. Unfortunately my sister went down with tonsillitis at the last minute and so the party has been postponed until she is better and able to appreciate all the yummy food (sorry, Alice!). That didn’t stop us making a whole load of SpongeBob cakes to celebrate with though…

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Aren’t they just adorable? I can’t take credit for the design or the delicious marshmallow icing recipe because I got both from here. I must say though that I am extremely impressed by the marshmallow icing and have eaten far too many of these little cakes for someone who usually detests icing (even as a child I would rather have a plain cake than one that was iced!!)

We started off by baking the cakes, and I stupidly forgot to get the butter out of the fridge early to soften, meaning I had to stick my tongue out with concentration as I tried to beat it with the sugar…

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Two hands were needed, you know!

We made our cakes using wheat- and gluten-free flour from Doves Farm here in the UK. This mix is great as I have yet to work out the right combinations of non-wheat flours to create my own flour mix. The cakes didn’t rise as well as my usual wheat-flour ones as I didn’t quite get the right amount of baking powder in the mix. However, as I wanted to be able to enjoy these cakes as well as Tim we chose the wheat-free option instead… they came out alright in the end!

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Some did get a little overdone I must admit as we were so busy melting the marshmallows for the icing that we forgot to take them out on time. Marshmallow icing is so much fun and you can find the recipe here . First you melt the marshmallows until they are gooey and oh so scrummy (try not to eat too much at this point!!)

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Then you mix with icing sugar and food colouring until you get a malleable consistency…

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The end result is an incredibly sticky icing and you need to coat your hands and surfaces in a massive amount of icing sugar to even begin to work with it (which took me a long time to figure out)… in fact I gave up on rolling my icing very quickly and went for putting blobs of it on the top of each cake and spreading it out with my fingers, carefully.

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Can you see the beginnings of a SpongeBob? I have all sorts of ideas for using this recipe at Halloween (pumpkins, witches and ghosts) as well at Christmas (Santas and penguins) and Easter too (bunnies and chicks). For all the time it took, and that was a lot, it was all worth it to open the cake tin each day and see a host of SpongeBobs staring out.

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Not that there are many left, as you can see. I have been eating two at a time and even offered one to the man who came to fix our radiator yesterday… the look on his face when he saw them was just classic!

Why not have a go one afternoon, if you have the time to spare… and don’t forget that the leftover marshmallows will keep you gasping for cocoa each night as you curl up with a good book 🙂