Monthly Archives: April 2014

Sausage rolls

These are really simple to make so are perfect for people wanting to try something quite easy. For something like a sausage roll, I don’t really see the point in spending ages making your own pastry when you can buy ready rolled good quality pastry from the shop. It means making them is far quicker and easier, which is always a plus! You can use different sausage meat to make a variety of flavoured sausage rolls.

400g sausage meat or 6 sausages
320g ready rolled puff pastry
2tbsp milk
spray oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC and spray a baking tray with oil
  2. Cut the pastry in half lengthways so you have two long thin strips
  3. If you are using sausages (this makes it even easier), remove the casings and line three sausages along the centre of each strip of pastry. If you are using sausage meat, roll this into two long strips and place in the middle of each strip of pastry

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  1. Brush one of the long edges of pastry with milk and fold the other side of the pastry over to form a seal. Press down with a fork to make sure it is completely sealed
  2. Cut the sausage rolls into lengths as big or small as you like and put them on the baking tray

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  1. Brush the sausage rolls with some milk and make a few cuts with scissors across the top
  2. Put them in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown

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Eat warm from the oven or allow to cool and enjoy later.

Mississippi Mud Cake

For Easter I knew I wanted to make a huge chocolate cake to celebrate being able to eat chocolate again. Tash at work made this cake and brought the spare third cake in for us all to eat. It was amazing! She gave me the recipe which she had got from a blog called Sunday Baking (http://www.sundaybaking.co.uk/pigs-in-mud-cake-mississippi-mud-cake-recipe-with-kit-kats/). They created a pigs in mud cake which looks amazing with the pigs made out of fondant. I am not that creative and have never used fondant before so decided that because it was for Easter, I would make a chocolate nest in the middle.
Ingredients for the cake:

(This makes 3 cakes but you only need to use 2 for this cake)

250g unsalted butter
600g caster sugar
3 large eggs
470g plain flour – sifted
140g cocoa powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
375ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
375ml boiling water

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan) / 180°C and line three 20cm cake tins
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in-between
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a separate bowl
  4. Mix the buttermilk and vanilla extract together in a jug
  5. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the bowl with the butter and sugar and mix until completely combined
  6. Add 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture and again mix until completely combined. Repeat these steps until all of the ingredients are combined
  7. Slowly add the boiling water. At this stage I thought the mix looked incredibly wet, but keep mixing and the water does become combined and the mix becomes slightly thicker

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  1. Divide the batter evenly between the three cake tins

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  1. Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes. After 35 minutes, I found the cakes were still too runny inside when I tested them with a toothpick. I put them in for another 5 minutes, the toothpick wasn’t coming out clean, but this is the sort of cake that needs a slightly gooey centre
  2. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes or so to cool slightly and then remove from the tins and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting

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The frosting inside the cake

150g icing sugar – sifted
50g unsalted butter, softened
20g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tbsp whole milk

  1. Beat together the icing sugar, cocoa and butter until the butter is completely mixed in and then gradually pour in the milk
  2. Once combined, beat until light and fluffy. Spread evenly on top of one of the cakes – I turn one of cakes upside down so that what will turn into being the middle of the cake was originally the bottom. I do this because it makes a flat surface to spread the frosting on and also makes it neater when you put the other cake on top

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For the chocolate ganache

250ml double cream
400g milk chocolate

  1. Put your cream in a pan over low heat and keep stirring until small bubbles start to appear as soon as this happens take off the heat
  2. Add the chocolate which has been broken into squares and keep stirring until you have a smooth, shiny sauce
  3. Leave to cool giving it a stir every so often

Up until now, the recipe is fairly simple. It is now you need to take your time and not rush or else the whole cake will look a mess!

  1. You need the Kitkats to be in two fingers so if you have the four finger variety, break them in half
  2. Once your ganache has cooled and is a custard consistency, smear it on the sides of the cake using a spatula. Don’t use too much, but just enough to act as a glue for the Kitkats
  3. Now you need to stick the Kitkats on the side of the cake which can be a little tricky. Work quickly positioning the Kitkats around the whole cake making sure they are touching without gaps. If your Kitkats keep falling, stand them at a slight angle

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  1. Wrap the ribbon around the cake, any Kitkats that were at an angle will be brought up close to the cake with the ribbon. Tie it tightly in a nice bow

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  1. For the next stage, the ganache needs to be nearly solid, I put it in the fridge for around 45 minutes until it was only just liquid. When it is at this stage, pour it onto the top of the cake and spread carefully to create an even covering
  2. Put the cake in the fridge to set the ganache. Once it is set, add any decorations you like. I created a nest using Flake, Mini Eggs and Lindtt eggs

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The cake is very rich and a piece the width of two Kitkats is probably enough for most people (unless you are Rien or my brother-in-law!) I knew it must be good when my Mum said she had only once come across a cake that was as good as this one and that was baked by her Mum. The cake is lovely and moist and the combination of the ganache on the top and the frosting in the middle is really great.

It is best kept in the fridge because if you leave it out the ganache will start to melt and the cake could collapse! It also keeps for quite a few days which is good because you will want to keep going back for more!

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Vanilla & Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

For around 5 years, my parent’s have had chickens which are great egg-layers. On Good Friday we all went to choose a few more to add to the coop which was quite fitting for Easter. I always thought one egg was similar to another but after trying the eggs my parent’s chickens’ lay, there really is no comparison. It really is worth buying free range eggs – you will notice the difference!

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 This is the original chicken I chose – the Ginger Ninga; Mamma Bimbawaki or Bimbles for short.

Like I said before, Easter is definitely the time to do lots of baking which is exactly what I did. I spent 4 days in a row baking one thing or another to give as presents. Rien’s family love cupcakes so I decided to do two variations for them; chocolate chip and vanilla.

For the vanilla cupcakes, I used the recipe I have previously posted. For the chocolate chips cupcakes I used a recipe I found on a woman called Eileen Goodall’s blog (http://eileengoodall.hubpages.com/hub/Chocolate-Chip-Cupcake-Recipe). The only change I made was to use milk chocolate chips instead of plain. They turned out really well and I will definitely be using the recipe again!

For the cake
100g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
100g milk chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat your oven to 190ºC
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then add the vanilla extract
  3. Add the eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly in-between
  4. Add the flour and when completely incorporated, add the chocolate chips

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  1. Spoon the mix into 8 large cupcake cases, I use an ice cream scoop to get even amounts in each case and I find it easier. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins. When a toothpick comes out clean they are done

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  1. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack

For the buttercream
I used half the quantity of icing I used in the vanilla cupcake post. I used a green gel colour because I wanted to create a grass effect which I acheived by using a Wilton 233 tip. I then finished them with a Malteasers bunny and a few Mini Eggs.

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I decorated the vanilla cupcakes with a large star nozzle tip to give a grooved affect to the butter cream. I then finished them off with a Mini Egg. You can’t really see from the photo, but I used Easter egg printed cupcake cases.

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Everyone seemed to really like the cakes and I think it is sometimes nice to have a cupcake to break up all of the chocolate that gets eaten over Easter!

Hot Cross Buns

I love Easter because to me it is the baking holiday! There are so many different things to bake that really lend themselves to being Easter themed even if that is sticking a mini egg on a cupcake. I’m glad we have four days off work because I am going to need it for the amount of baking I have planned.

Hot cross buns are an essential at Easter in my opinion. There are lots of different recipes out there with slight variations but I decided to go with this one by Paul Hollywood because I liked the idea of putting apple in them. The original recipe can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/hot_cross_buns_74750.

My Mum searches the shops for hot cross buns that don’t have peel in them because she hates it; every year Dad ends up buying them some with peel in saying “he forgot”. I am slightly risking it by trying to convert her with this recipe. I bought a big bag of mixed fried fruit which has a selection of raisins, sultanas and a small amount of peel. I’m going to not mention the peel and see if she notices because there really is such a small amount, but if notices I’ll try and see if Dad’s excuse works! Fingers crossed!

For the buns:
300ml whole milk

500g strong white flour
75g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
7g sachet fast-action yeast
50g butter
1 egg beaten
230g mixed dried fruit
1 apple, cored and finely chopped
2 oranges, zest only
2 tsp ground cinnamon
oil for greasing the bowl

  1. Bring the milk to the boil and then remove from the heat and leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Keep watching it until small bubbles start appearing and then take it off the heat – don’t let it get too hot
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter and egg together in a bowl, then slowly add the warmed milk until it forms a sticky dough

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  1. Add the dried fruit, finely chopped apple, orange zest and cinnamon and mix. It is a little tricky to mix all of the fruit into the dough but don’t worry as you will be able to mix this in more thoroughly when you knead it. Tip out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface
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  1. Knead the dough for five minutes, or until smooth and elastic
  1. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for approximately one hour, or until doubled in size. I like to use spray oil for this because it is very low in calorie and its quick and easy to spray the bowl and cling film

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  1. Lightly flour your surface and roll the dough into a long sausage shape and divide it into 12 pieces. Roll each section into a round ball and place them on a lined baking tray. Leave enough room so they have enough space to rise. leave to prove for another hour

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  1. Heat the oven to 200ºC

For the cross:
75g plain flour

  1. Mix the flour with five tablespoons of water, add a spoonful at at a time and mix. You’re looking for a thick paste consistency so don’t add all of the water if you don’t need it
  1. Spoon into a piping bag with a small, circular nozzle. Pipe across each bun and then pipe in the other direction to make a cross. This isn’t like piping butter cream – the flour and water are really elastic and I found the easiest way of finishing your cross was with the help of some scissors to cut off the paste

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  1. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown

For the glaze:
3 tbsp apricot jam

  1. Heat the apricot jam on a low heat in a pan and then sieve to remove the chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the buns to give a lovely shine

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Throughout the process of making these, the smell of the fruit and cinnamon is amazing! We did sneak one straight out of the oven before I did the glaze and the butter melted instantly and they really did taste lovely. They do take a bit of time and effort – from start to finish took approximately 3 1/2 hours but it was enjoyable and worth it in my opinion.

Pumpkin Cake Bars

If you haven’t tried pumpkin cake before, imagine carrot cake but different. I realise that isn’t helpful but this recipe has the familiar flavourings of cinnamon and the moistness of carrot cake, but the pumpkin provides something slightly different.

I hadn’t tried pumpkin until an American friend I used to work with brought in pumpkin bars for Thanksgiving. I’d never had anything like them, they had such a unique taste and of course because it’s an American recipe they had a lovely cinnamon flavour. Becky was kind enough to give me the recipe so I could make them myself.

These are by far my boyfriend Rien’s favourite cake I have made. He loves carrot cake but he really loves these pumpkin bars and would like me to make them more than the once a year I do.

When I’ve mentioned the pumpkin bars before people automatically assume I spend hours preparing the pumpkin from scratch, but the recipe uses pumpkin puree from a can so it really couldn’t be easier. Libby’s pumpkin puree was recommended to me to be the best to use because it is what Americans use. You can’t get it in every shop so you might have to look around for it. I think Waitrose stock it all year, I have seen it very occasionally in Aldi and I found it the last time in the ethnic food isle in Tesco.

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When Rien has taken my carrot cupcakes into work before, his colleagues were surprised that they actually had carrot in them. They then gave me the challenge to see if I could bake with other vegetables and for it to taste good. I knew Rien loved these bars and they were a tested recipe so I decided to make these. No one guessed that they were pumpkin bars but everyone thought they were delicious. I think I passed their test!

The measurements are in cups because it is an American recipe. If you want to make the recipe but don’t have cup measurements, I advise you invest in some as trying to convert the measurements to grams would just cause you a headache and you’d wish you spent the couple of pounds on some cup measurements in the first place!  Check out an article on one of my favourite blogs; Sally’s Baking Addiction, to get some tips on how to measure correctly – it’s not as easy as it sounds!

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For the cake
1 2/3 cup caster sugar
1 cup sunflower oil

1 can pumpkin puree
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC and line a baking tray with baking parchment
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly and pour into the baking tray. Use a spatula to ensure the mix is level and right to the corners

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  1. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Test with a tooth pick, when it comes out clean the cake is ready

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  1. Cool on a wire rack
  2. When the cake is completely cool, frost

For the frosting
3oz full fat cream cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups icing sugar

Mix all of the ingredients together and spread evenly across the cake. Cut into bars and then watch as everyone keeps coming back for more!

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Pork Fillet Stroganoff

 

This recipe is so delicious you won’t believe how quick and simple it is to make!

This is my take on Mary Berry’s recipe. Mary Berry makes a proper stroganoff which includes the traditional ingredients of mushrooms and onions. I don’t like either of these so in my version, I have completely left them out! I have also tweaked the other ingredients to make it more to my taste. I do realise this is risky as Mary Berry knows a thing of two, but I always think recipes should be adapted to your personal tastes. I have also increased the amount of meat per portion as with the original recipe you wouldn’t actually be getting much meat per person. Before you panic, that doesn’t make this recipe a lot more expensive because you can get really good tenderloin at good prices these days. 

The first advantage of this recipe is just how quick and easy it is. It really is a dish that you can come home after a day at work and make in easily less than 30 minutes. It is also something a little bit different which makes it even nicer I think! Another reason I like this recipe so much is that it uses soured cream. Now I always have soured cream in my house because my husband is obsessed with fajitas so we have them all the time. But we always seem to have half a pot of soured cream left in the fridge. This recipe is great for using up that left over soured cream for me.I also don’t tend to measure out the soured cream I add, I just add enough to create a nice amount of sauce. I would use the amount below as a guide, but don’t be afraid to add more if you want. Also be aware the longer you leave it to cook once the soured cream has been added, the more the sauce with almost thicken and therefore not seem like there is as much. 

You can make this recipe with reduced fat soured cream and it still tastes as good but the sauce won’t be as thick and it might look a little split. If you’re making it for yourself and don’t mind how it looks then this would be fine but if you’re making it for guests then I would recommend making it with full fat soured cream because it does look better!

I usually serve this with potatoes and vegetables, but you could also have it with rice or mashed potatoes as Mary Berry suggests. 

Serves 2

450g pork fillet
½ tsp salt
Twist of ground black pepper
1 tbsp sunflower oil
25g butter
1 tbsp paprika
140ml soured cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Remove any membrane from the pork fillet and cut into thin strips on the slant. Season the meat with salt and pepper

  1. Heat a large pan until hot, add a little oil when very hot and add the meat. Stir fry really briskly until brown, keep watching it because this doesn’t take long

 

  1. Add butter to the pan and allow to melt before sprinkling in paprika. Turn down the heat slightly before adding the soured cream Allow to bubble gently to heat through and then add the lemon juice and serve straight away

 

Raspberry Bakewell Cake

 

Fluffy cake with a hint of almond filled with delicious fresh raspberries and the added sweetness of jam. 

When I left uni, all I had was a cupcake tin until my Mum treated me to my first cake tins. I moved out pretty much as soon as I’d finished uni so although baking was my passion, I couldn’t spend all of my money on baking supplies! So her buying these for me opened up a whole new world of baking for me. Now the story is completely different, half of my kitchen is taken up with baking supplies and equipment as well as my baking cupboard and pantry. 

I first made this cake for my sister’s birthday. Her birthday always falls during lent which is when I give up chocolate. I don’t give up chocolate because I’m particularly religious, I just think it is a good way of testing your self control. I therefore don’t tend to bake anything with chocolate during this time encase I get some on finger and it accidentally finds its way to my mouth. 

I initially made this cake without the jam because my sister isn’t a fan of it. Since then I have made it with the jam and I definitely prefer it. The jam adds a lovely moistness to the cake and a sweetness which pairs with the fresh raspberries, especially if they’re tart. 

Recipe updated 2017

140g ground almonds
140g butter, softened
140g golden caster sugar
140g self-raising flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g raspberries
2 tbsp raspberry jam

2 tbsp flaked almonds
¼ tsp almond extract

  1. Heat the oven to 180ºC and line a loose bottomed 8″ cake tin
  2. Mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes
  3. Add the eggs, ground almonds, flour and vanilla extract and mix together until combined

  1. Spread half the mix into the tin and then add the jam and spread out. Scatter the raspberries over the top 
  
  1. Spread the rest of the cake mix on top of the raspberries and scatter with flaked almonds. Bake for 50 minutes and check it’s done by using a cocktail stick. If it comes out clean, the cake is done
  2. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before turning out and cooling completely on a wire rack  

Linking to:

Hijacked By Twins

White bread rolls

I’ve wanted to have a go at making bread for a while. and rolls seemed to be a good place to start. I have never met anyone that likes bread as much as Rien. He will make everything into a sandwich and I have no doubt that if he had to pick his last meal it would be a sandwich! So I knew he would give me an honest opinion. After a few bites, he was staring at his plate waving his hands around saying “I don’t get it, these are perfect. They’re amazing.” I think I am forgiven for dragging him to Ikea on a Saturday and I have a feeling I will be making a lot more bread from now on!

500g bread flour
7g (one sachet) fast-action yeast
1 1/2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp salt
300ml luke warm water
3 tbsp olive oil

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, salt and caster sugar together in a bowl
  2. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water and olive oil. Gradually mix in the flour with a knife until it comes together into a dough

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  1. Lightly flour the work top and empty the dough onto it. Knead the dough for ten minutes. I push the dough with the palm of my hand then pull it back and keep repeating and turning the dough

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  1. Put the dough in a large lightly oiled bowl, then cover. It should feel smooth and elastic. Leave to prove for an hour

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  1. After an hour knock back the dough. This is the process of removing the air from the dough. I do this by first punching the dough down in the bowl and then kneading it for another ten minutes
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  1. Roll the dough into a long sausage and divide into eight sections. Roll each section into a bowl and place on a baking tray to prove for an hour making sure you cover it
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  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC and bake for 10-15 minutes. To test if they are ready, tap the bottom and if they sound hollow they’re done
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You can also make the dough up until the first prove and and put it in the bowl in the fridge over night.

I decided to use the rolls to make my own version of a Nandos burger. I marinated chicken thighs in the medium Nandos marinade and put in the rolls with lettuce and mayonnaise. According to Rien it was even better than Nandos!

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Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Super moist carrot cupcakes with deliciously smooth cream cheese frosting. There is a reason these are my most popular cupcakes!

I thought for many years that I didn’t like carrot cake, but when my friend Tash brought her homemade carrot cake into work a while ago, everyone started raving about it. After trying a piece I saw what all the fuss was about!

Lots of recipes have walnuts and raisins in them, but this is where I am controversial – I don’t include either of these in my recipe. I know some carrot cake purists may think this is awful and all carrot cakes should have walnuts and raisins, but I don’t particularly like walnuts and I don’t fancy raisins in these so surely that’s the beauty of recipes; to adapt them to make them how you want.  

This is not a recipe where you can look to reduce the calories and use low fat cream cheese. You need the fat in the cream cheese to help create the thickness in the frosting. If you were to use low fat cream cheese, the frosting would be too runny and you wouldn’t be able to pipe it onto the cupcakes at all. 

This frosting is a less thick than other frosting recipes like buttercream, so because of this it is slightly harder to pipe. Therefore I always use a large round nozzle instead of trying to pipe with any type of patterned nozzle because there is always the risk that it will spread slightly an lose any distinction there may have been in the pattern in the first place. 

These are definitely my most popular cupcakes and I have people asking me to bake them all the time. My Dad doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth at all, but even he loves these. 

Makes approximately 18 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
300g light brown or muscovado sugar
3 free range medium eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp (heaped) cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
300g grated carrot

For the frosting:
450g icing sugar
185g full fat cream cheese
75g unsalted butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Mix together the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla extract
  2. In another bowl, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together
  3. Gradually add the dry mix to the wet mix stirring as you go. Add the carrots and keep stirring until thoroughly mixed. Don’t worry the mix is quite wet

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  1. Fill each case two-thirds full and bake for 20 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack
  2. Once completely cool, frost the cupcakes
  3. Mix the butter until smooth before adding the icing sugar and cream cheese. Beat until completely combined and smooth and then spoon into a piping bag and decorate 

Below are a few examples of the finished carrot cupcakes I have made. The first photo was for my Mum’s birthday recently, the middle photo was for my Dad’s birthday in December and the final photo was for Valentine’s day for people at work.

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