Sweet Valentine…

I know it’s a bit late in the day and it’s been a while….but what’s the saying ‘better late than never’

Well seeing as it’s the eve before Valentines day, I thought I’d pop a sweet valentine cupcake post up…plus my O.H. was getting fed up of me making cakes for other people and not him!

This little beauty of a recipe is for the gorgeously rich and smooth ‘Red Velvet Cupcakes’ taken from my fave cupcake book ‘The Hummingbird Bakery – Cake Days‘ and they are topped with a smooth cream cheese frosting….yup they are truly scrumptious and sure to make anyone’s heart flutter.

So without waffling on forever, here’s the recipe;

Sponge Ingredients:

120g Unsalted Butter, softened

300g Caster Sugar

2 Large Eggs

20g Cocoa Powder

40ml Red Food Colouring

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

300g Plain Flour

1 tsp Salt

240ml Buttermilk

1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar

1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

For the Frosting:

100g Unsalted Butter, softened

600g Icing Sugar

250g Full-Fat Cream Cheese

Bits and Bobs to decorate (I made some hearts from some leftover flower paste I had from a birthday cake I made earlier in the week, but anything will do…be creative)

Make 12-16 cupcakes (I actually got 24 good sized cupcakes out of this mixture)

1. Preheat the Oven to 190c (375f), Gas mark, and line the bun tin with cases.

2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding mixer and cream the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Break in the eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly after each addition. Make sure you scrape down the sides, so that everything is incorporated into the mixture.

3. In a separate small bowl mix the cocoa powder, food colouring and vanilla essence. For the colour I used Sugarflair Colour paste, as these go a lot further and you get a much richer colour. I mixed the paste with 40ml of water to help bring the cocoa and vanilla essence together into a nice smooth paste. Add the paste to the batter, mixing thoroughly to get a nice even colour.

4. Sift the flour and salt together in another bowl, then add the flour to the batter in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk and mixing thoroughly after each addition. And lastly in another bowl (I know its bowl’tastic with this one, but needs must) mix the white wine vinegar and bicarbonate of soda with a teaspoon and then add to the batter, mixing it in until its fully incorporated.

5. Spoon the batter into the case, so that they are two-thirds full. Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 mins or until the sponge bounces back…remember these are super fluffy cakes so they may feel solfter than your standard cupcake. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a short while in the tin and then place onto a wire rack to cool completely before you frost them.

6. Using the electric whisk again, mix the butter and icing sugar on low (to avoid be covered in icing sugar!) until there are no large lumps of butter remaining and it resembles a sandy texture. Now add the cream cheese and mix well on high speed until everything is incorporated and smooth and creamy.

Now let the fun begin and decorate away till your hearts content….I went for a couple of options. The first using flower paste hearts I made with added sparkle, see below

and the second lot I went for a valentines version of a butterfly cake…removing a round plug of sponge from the top and using a heart cutter to re-shape the sponge plug. Dust with icing sugar and leave to one side whilst you pipe the hole full of the frosting, then pop the dusted heart on top…simple but really affective.

Well all that’s left to do now is deliver them or devour them… Happy Valentines Day and Happy Baking…Toodlepip for now x


Trick or Treat? ….TREAT I hear you shout!

Halloween Treat

With Halloween only a week away, it felt only right to come up with a ‘Spooky Treat’ for those little (or BIG) trick or treaters….and this is what I came up with. Vanilla Cupcakes with a Gooey Gory Jammy Centre, Piped with two-tone Vanilla Frosting and topped with a handcrafted chocolate decoration.

Again the sponge base is my all time favourite cupcake recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery…it never fails


80g (3oz) Unsalted Butter, softened

280g (10oz) Caster Sugar

240g (8 1/2 oz) Plain Flour

1 tbsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Salt

240ml (8 1/2 fl oz) Whole Milk

1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence

2 Large Eggs


500g (1lb 2 oz) Icing Sugar

160g (5 1/2 oz) Unsalted Butter, softened

50ml (1 3/4 fl oz) Whole Milk

1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence

Orange Food Colouring (or whatever colours you want to use)


Good Quality Strawberry Jam

Chocolate Decorations

Large Bar of Milk or Plain Chocolate

Makes 12-16 Cupcakes

Firstly melt the chocolate for the decorations, in a bowl. Either in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water (whatever you feel comfortable with – just don’t burn the chocolate).

Whilst this is melting, cut a sheet of baking parchment (large enough to cover a flat baking sheet) and secure to the tray with 4 blobs of melted chocolate.

Now take the melted chocolate and pour into a disposable piping bag, making sure it’s not too hot to handle and not too cold so that its start setting before you pipe it.

Squeeze all the air out of the bag and twist the opening to seal it. Now snip a small amount off the end to create a small opening.

Time for some confidence and remember your first few are bound to be a little shakey…practise and once you get the feel and flow for the chocolate, start to pipe spider webs, Boo or whatever takes your fancy, onto the parchment.

Once you have created your little works of art, pop them into the fridge to set.

Pre-heat the over to 190C (375F) Gas Mark 5 or for fan assisted ovens 180C and line the deep cupcake tin with cases.

Using a hand-held electric whisk (or if you’re lucky enough to own a freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment) gently beat together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt, until the ingredients are well mixed and look like fine breadcrumbs.

Mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla essence in a jug, with a fork. With the whisk or mixer on slow, add three-quarters of the milk mixture into the bowl and make sure all the ingredients are mixed together completely, using a spatula to scrape down the sides. Turn the whisk/mixer up to medium speed and add the rest of the milk mixture and beat again until the batter is smooth.

Spoon the batter into the cake cases until two-thirds full.

Then pop them into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until they are golden and spring back when touched.

Leave them to cool in the tin for 10 mins, before transferring to a cooling rack.

Meanwhile make the frosting by mixing the icing sugar and butter on low-speed (otherwise you’ll end up with a dust cloud bigger than that famous Icelandic Volcano) until it reaches a sandy consistency. Add the vanilla essence to the milk and pour into the butter and icing (still on a low-speed). Once it is all combined turn the speed up to high and whisk until light and fluffy.

Now split the frosting. Add half (uncoloured) to a disposable piping bag and leave to one side. With the remaining frosting add the colour of your choice, I opted for orange, but green, purple or red would work equally well. Use paste colours though as it doesn’t make the frosting too soft and you get a much deeper, more vibrant colour. Mix the colour in until you get the depth of colour you want.

Time to pop the coloured frosting into another disposable piping bag (I highly recommend Lakeland Limited’s disposable piping bags) and set to one side.

Take another disposable piping bag and fit the nozzle you want, I went for a plain wide nozzle.

Once you have got this set up, snip the ends off the other two filled bag’s and twist the top to remove any air bubbles. I then added a bag clip to both, to stop them coming open when I started piping.

Pop both filled bags into the nozzle fitted bag and put it to one side.

The cakes should now be cool and ready to handle. Using a sharp paring knife cut out a circular plug in the middle (as per the Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Frosting I posted last month) and add a blob of Strawberry Jam. To avoid the jam being pulled out by the piping, I sliced the sponge off the plug I had removed and placed the crisp top back over the jam centre (so it looks like nothing has been done to the cakes).

Gooey Gory Jammie centre

Then for the fun part, the piping. Make sure you’ve got all the air out of the bags by squeezing a bit on to a plate/bowl, have a practise if you need to. Then begin to pipe onto the cupcakes in a spiral motion. I start from the outside and work my way into the middle, finishing with a little peak. This gives a great two-tone effect and varies depending on the nozzle shape you use.

Two Tone Frosting

Head back over to the fridge and take the tray with your chocolate creations out. Gently remove them from the parchment paper (use a thin palette knife if you need to) and pop them onto the piped cakes.

All that’s left now is to stand back and enjoy your creations….oh and keep little fingers from picking at them ūüėČ


Happy Baking and have a treat filled Halloween.

(I promise I won’t take as long to do my next post!!)

Again, feel free to e-mail me with your creations/versions and I’ll pop them into a gallery on the blog.

E-mail me at lottie.thesnowdropbakery@gmail.com

It’s Damson Season…time for a bit of Gin and Jam

During the summer holidays, we were lucky enough to visit friends who moved down to a farm in Gloucestershire, 5 months ago.

We all had a great time and hadn’t realised what a beautiful part of the country it is…the other great thing was that it was Damson season and there we plenty to be picked.

Now I know this is meant to be a baking blog, but when it comes to Damson’s the two best things to make with them are Damson Jam and Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas with out a nice tipple of home-made Damson Gin.

So here are the recipes for both and I’d like to add that these recipes are taken from my dearly missed Grandma, who was the queen of baking, preserving and most of all the Queen of Meringues.

Damson Gin

500g Damsons

750ml Gin

250g Sugar


Start by sterilizing a large ‘Kilner’ Jar or Demijohn (the neck must be wide enough to get the Damsons in and out). Now take your Damson’s and discard any over-ripe or bruised ones. Once you have discarded the bad ones, start to prick each damson once. Place all the pricked Damson’s into the jar and then pour in the sugar. Now top up with Gin…how easy can it be.

Give the jar a gentle shake and leave it to take in a cool dark cupboard, making sure that you shake it once a month.

You may also want to taste it once a month and add more sugar according to your taste.

It will be ready for drinking in 3 months, but can be left a little longer…it’s just perfect by Christmas

Now it’s time to strain the Gin and this is best done through a cheesecloth, or if you’ve had little ones a muslin square (minus the baby goop) is perfect. Pop the strained gin into bottles and either share or hoard it over Christmas.

It’s worth the wait….

Damson Jam

Makes: 7 x 225ml Jars

1.25kg Damsons

500ml Water

1.5kg of Sugar (granulated or preserving)


Again start by sterilizing all the jars. Now wash the Damsons and remove any stalks and pop them into a large pan or preserving pan, with the water. Cook slowly for about 30 minutes until the Damsons have broken down. Add the sugar and stir over a low heat until dissolved.

Increase the heat and boil for about 10 minutes before testing for a set. Remove the stones as they rise to the top. My Grandma used to check the set point by dropping a blob of the hot jam into a saucer of cold water, but I am a gadget freak and I prefer to use a sugar thermometer to make sure it has reached the setting point. The setting point is when the mixture reaches 105c (220F). If necessary, boil for a further minute, then test again. Once you are happy it has reached setting point, remove the pan from the heat, skim off any scum and allow to cool briefly.

Carefully pour into the hot sterilized jars and seal them. Allow the jars to cool before you label and store them.

Well that’s if for Damson season, just enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Frosting

Main ImageI was recently offered a few ‘homegrown’ baking apples and eagerly accepted them…then came the moment of, now what should I do with them?

I only had 2 and didn’t think there were enough to do a pie or crumble and therefore came up with the idea of creating a cupcake with an appley surprise, topped with fluffy, creamy, cinnamon frosting.

Apples and Cinnamon are always a great combination and this made great little cakes, perfect for tea-time treats or even thank-you gifts.

Here’s how I made them….I started with my all time favourite Vanilla Cupcake recipe from ‘The Hummingbird Bakery’ and adapted it.


120g Plain Flour

140g Caster Sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

A pinch of Salt

3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened

120ml Whole Milk

1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

2 Large Eggs

Apple Puree:

2 large Baking Apples, peeled, cored and chop

3-4 tablespoons of Granulated Sugar (depending on the bitterness of the apples)

1-2 tablespoons of Water

Cinnamon Frosting:

250g Icing Sugar

5 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened

1-2 tablespoons Whole Milk

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Pre-heat the oven to 170c / 160c Fan Assisted Ovens, Gas 3

Firstly make the apple sauce by putting the prepared apple into a pan with the sugar (taste during cooking as some apples can be more tart than others) and a tablespoon of cold water. Gently heat and allow the apples to reduce and turn into a nice smooth apple puree, stirring occasionally. If more water is needed then add the other tablespoon, but you really need to judge this, as you don’t want a runny apple puree. Once you are happy with the flavour and consistency, pop the puree into a bowl to cool.

Now for the cupcake batter. Pop the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt & butter into the electric mixer (or use and electric hand mixer, as I do…one day I will own a ‘KitchenAid’) and beat on slow speed until you get a grainy, sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until its all incorporated (make sure you scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula) Don’t overmix the batter.

Spoon the batter into 12 cupcake cases until 2/3’s full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and so that the centre springs back when you touch it. Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.

While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting.

Beat the icing sugar, cinnamon and butter together with an electric whisk on medium-slow (otherwise you and the kitchen will have a light dusting of icing sugar) until the mixture is well mixed. Then with the whisk turned down to slow speed add the milk a little at a time. Again you don’t want the frosting to be too loose or too firm, depending on whether you are piping the frosting or not. Turn the whisk up to high and beat until light and fluffy (at least 5 minutes). Set to one side.

Now the cupcakes are completely cooled, take a sharp paring knife and remove small circular plugs from the top of the cupcakes. Don’t go too deep, as the cake will fall to bits when you take it out of the casing to eat (messy for everyone involved), once you have done this to all the cakes (don’t worry about the bits you’ve take out…if its anything like our house, you’ll have hungry little chicks standing right next to you wanting to taste them) start spooning the apple puree into the hole, until they are full, not overflowing.

Now add the frosting as you would normally. I went for a piped finish and dusted mine with a fine dusting of cinnamon icing sugar (really simple, 1 tablespoon of Icing sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)

I’ve given these as thank you presents to a couple of people now and had no complaints at all, apart from my in-house chief taster and junior tasters who didn’t want anybody else to have them!

Well Happy Baking and let me know how you get on.

Feel free to e-mail me with your success piccies and I’ll create a little gallery to showcase them all.


Blueberry & Lemon Loaf

This has to be one of the easiest, tastiest and most well received loaves/cakes I have ever made.

It’s a great cake to bake if you’ve got family or friends coming over….and there are two main reasons for that….Firstly it obviously tastes fantastic…. it’s moist, tangy and filled with pockets of juicy, jammy blueberries and secondly the aroma it sends through the house is amazing….They’ll want a slice of it straight from the loaf tin.

It also travels well….I recently took one camping and it looked and tasted just as impressive on a tin plate, as it did at home.

So now down to the important stuff….the recipe

Blueberry and Lemon Loaf Recipe:

(Makes 1 loaf)

195 grams Plain Flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

85 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

150 grams granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (outer yellow skin of the lemon)

120 ml milk

200 grams fresh blueberries

Lemon Glaze:

50 grams granulated white sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C (160 degrees C for Fan Assisted ovens) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a non stick vegetable spray) the bottom and sides of a loaf Tin (9 x 5 x 3 inch) (23 x 13 x 8 cm).

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt – This just puts some air and lightness back into the flour (feel free to sieve it, if you want to)

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until softened (about 1 minute).

Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three additions) and milk (in two additions) alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix only until combined.

Now gently fold in the blueberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 55 to 65 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the 50 grams of sugar and the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. If you have extra zest left over, I like to add it to the syrup. It gives a bit of texture to the top of the loaf.

When the loaf is done, remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Pierce the hot loaf all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick and then brush the top of the loaf with the hot lemon glaze. Cool the loaf in the pan for about 30 minutes then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. Before serving give a light dusting of icing sugar, just to make it look even more pretty.

This bread is best served on the day it is made…if it even makes it past cooling down that is….you’ll be surprised how quickly it get devoured.

Now sit down, have a cup of tea and enjoy watching their faces as they tuck into it (maybe treat yourself to a slice as well)