Christmas baking & gift giving 1: Super easy fairycakes with Salty Sweet Buttercream icing

Yummies.

Hello hello. I am now on hollydays (geddit) from college. I will of course be doing bucketloads of study, but for now I’m trying to catch up with people and with baking rather than with study. I started one of the things on my checklist yesterday but still have LOADS to get through. For now though, I am in Christmas mode. I was lucky enough to win a copy of Nigella Christmas over on Like Mam Use to Bake in the last few days, so I am SO excited to get stuck into that. I am sure Hannah will be equally delighted once the food starts coming out of the kitchen from a frazzled flourcovered Sarah.

This year I’m going to bake or make most of my presents, apart from immediate family who have almost all been bought for. Still waiting on the last one for Hannah Banana and getting worried it won’t arrive on time despite the fact there’s loads of time left! She’s currently stuck in exam-land so if anyone feels like sending her clever thoughts please do, or leave her some Christmas cheer in the comments!

Ok, so as I was saying, I am making most of my presents. My ideas so far range from cupcakes to cookies (these and these) to truffles to macarons to marshmallows. I.E. I still haven’t decided what I’m doing. I think truffles shall definitely be on the cards, not least because I just ordered 5kg of chocolate from La Rousse foods. And a 10kg bag of risotto rice. What can I say, I’m obsessed. I made truffles and marshmallows last year and they went down really well. Am definitely looking at making a variety of macarons, because I’m in love with them. I can get on that pretty soon actually. I think the egg yolks will all be going towards Ice cream and a few going into my brown butter choc chip cookies that a select few shall also receive!

There are a few things I find are great to have when you’re thinking of baking presents for people, so I’m putting together a list of things that I have bought or am about to buy for you, so you don’t have to search far and wide. (This is in no way a sponsored post, but these are things that I found to be good value. If you have found cheaper/better please do let me know, I’m always on the lookout for good deals!)

Presentation bags
I got mine in Lakeland for £2.99 plus P&P. They’re nice. They don’t fit a huge amount of bulky items in, but I fit 3 mini lemon drizzle loaves in really nicely, or it takes lot’s of truffles.

Ribbons & cards/name tags
Well this could lead anywhere. I actually used ribbon tie from some of those generic packing sets you find in all of the 2euro shops these days. Alternatively, you can fins some pretty cheap tree decoration ribbons. For things like ribbons, and name tags I suggest local small shops or value type shops, or ebay which is great for materials and ribbons that don’t cost a fortune! Especially if you buy in bulk.

Presentation boxes
Alas, I own none. I was directed to a site by the lovely Yvonne from Hey Pesto however, that sell cupcake boxes. Again, I’m at a loss as to where else you can buy them, and would love any suggestions.

Edible glitter or decorations
If you’re making your own things, you do want to put the effort in to make it look lovely and professional. I went a bit mad in Kate’s Kitchen, who have a lovely supply of decorative baking items, as well as things like peppermint extract and agave syrup, raw cacao which are really quite difficult to find around these parts. In Dublin, there is Stock, and Kitchen compliments near St. Stephens green. Dr Oetker also have some quite nice items that can be found in most decent supermarkets.

Ingredients
Yummies wise, I am now buying chocolate in bulk from http://www.laroussefoods.ie/. They have a fantastic selection of items and were only too happy to help me out with a few requests!

Meat
The following are fantastic people and this selection should cover pretty much everything you need.
http://www.gilliganmeats.ie/
http://thefriendlyfarmer.blogspot.com/
http://www.jameswhelanbutchers.com/
http://www.hicks.ie/
http://www.jackmccarthy.ie/shop/

Fruit/Vegetables
I usually just go to the local markets, which are usually best!

Recipes
If I don’t have what you’re looking for, there’ll be another Irish blogger that covers it no doubt! This is mainly a shout out for some of the lovelies that I interact with on a regular basis. Try any of these sites for gorgeous photos, delectable recipes and a healthy dose of Christmas cheer!
http://www.likemamusedtobake.com
http://www.babaduck.com/
http://www.9beanrow.com/
http://www.mullenskitchen.wordpress.com/
http://www.donalskehan.com/
http://heypesto.wordpress.com/
http://englishmum.com/
http://edible-ireland.com/
http://gimmetherecipe.com/
http://gluttonyforbeginners.wordpress.com/
http://www.bibliocook.com/
http://grainnesbytes.wordpress.com/
http://icanhascook.wordpress.com/
http://italianfoodies.ie/
http://www.thedailyspud.com/
http://anamericaninireland.com/
http://dinnerdujour.org/
http://marriedanirishfarmer.com/
http://www.friendlycottage.blogspot.com/
http://nessasfamilykitchen.blogspot.com/
http://www.mydaddycooks.com/
http://paulassweettreats.blogspot.com/
http://www.lillyhiggins.blogspot.com/
http://www.theamateurmexicancook.com/

Now.

Phew.

There’s a lot out there!

Ok and just so I’m not leaving you all high and dry, here’s a recipe that is so so easy anyone could do it. I whip these up all of the time in dublin in about 10 minutes, as any of my flatmates will tell you! What I love about these fairy cakes, or cupcakes if you want to call them that, is that they are pretty much foolproof, they taste amazing, and they make 12 perfect sized cakes. I use muffin wrappers so that they’re easily iced! You can decorate them for any occasion. I made these mint green because I’m feeling the minty colours these days! You can also add colour or flavouring really easy to this base recipe for buttercream. I actually love it as is- salty sweet and wonderful.


You will need:
120g flour (I just use cream flour)
100g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract

Icing:
100g butter (The salted kind. I ALWAYS use kerrygold for this. It’s amazing)
200g icing sugar

What to do (I make these by hand with a wire whisk for creaming and wooden spoon if needed!)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 in my oven, grr) Prepare a 12 cake muffin tin with your choice of cases!
1. Soften your butter and give it a good bashing about so it’s slick and not in a big lump in your bowl. Add your caster sugar and beat until really pale and creamy.
2. Beat your two eggs and vanilla in a cup and set aside. Sieve your flour and baking powder and set aside.
3. Add a little of the egg and a little of the flour at a time and mix well until it’s all incorporated. Repeat until everything is added.
4. Spoon even amounts into each of your 12 cases.
5. Into the oven they go for 12-15 minutes. They should be golden on top and smell delicious.
6. Buttercream. Very simple. Soften your butter. Again, beat it well until it’s lovely and creamy and spread out. Then spoon your sieved icing sugar a few spoons at a time in, beating really really well after each addition. You can then add your choice of colours or flavours. This could include fresh fruit, vanilla extract, lemon zest, peppermint extract, coffee essence or extract, or anything you feel like!
Wait until the cakes are completely cold before you ice them, and then ice away to your hearts content, adding any decorations you wish!

As I said, these are super quick, super easy, and who doesn’t love a present of some fairycakes or cupcakes!

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