October 31st. 19C in London, beautiful sunshine.
November 1st. Fog, cold, winter has arrived.
Don’t you just love the British weather?! Its unpredictability is a constant irritation to me but I do adore the seasons. I’m very glad I don’t live somewhere that’s variations on one temperature all year round.
It’s starting to feel a little festive this week at Fabrefaction HQ. It’s bonfire night on Thursday, and we are having a housewarming party this weekend to welcome the new housies. It would be rude not to provide our guests with some treats, and even ruder not to acknowledge the approach of Mr Frost.
So here we are, the perfect recipe to bridge autumn and winter, mini gingerbread and honey cupcakes. If you don’t fancy the hassle you could always make this as a traybake, perhaps doubling the recipe (I halved it).
You will need
For the cake:
250g/9 oz plain flour
100g/3.5 oz golden syrup
75g/2.5 oz light soft brown sugar
75g/2.5 oz lard (yes, lard)
40g/1.5 oz treacle
140ml/4.5 fl oz milk
1 tsp ground ginger (feel free to add more)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the icing:
300g/10.5 oz icing sugar
150g/5.25 oz unsalted butter
6 tbsp runny honey
For the sugar shards:
100g/3.5 oz caster sugar
(makes 35 mini cakes)
Melt the lard, golden syrup and treacle over a low heat.
Yes the lard will separate and create a glossy sheen on the surface, and yes you will think how unappetising it looks, but trust me on this one…it’s one of those recipes passed from generation to generation in my family, I’m just giving it a little facelift and daren’t replace the lard, just in case somehow Grandma is watching.
Combine the sugar, ginger, flour and bicarbonate of soda.
Make a well in the middle and start to whisk in the egg. Stop when you get to the consistency in the third picture down because otherwise you risk making lumps you won’t be able to get out.
Pop the milk in the microwave to heat for 30 seconds to a minute until warm. Add to the centre of the mixture and continue to whisk gently until the milk and the egg are combined, but again don’t try and mix in all the flour.
Pour in the melted treacle, golden syrup and lard mix and stir until it’s all mixed together.
Spoon the mixture into your cases. I got a bulk order of these paper condiment cups last year for the hot chocolate stirrers I made for Christmas. I will NEVER find a way to use them all up.
If you have normal mini cupcake/muffin cases the same rules apply, about a teaspoon and a half of mixture in each. You will probably need to put them in a muffin tin though. These little cases had enough of their own structure so I put them on a baking tray.
Bake for 15 minutes on 180C/gas mark 4/350F.
Whisk together the icing/frosting ingredients, make sure to cover your bowl with a tea towel; icing sugar will make your kitchen sticky for weeks otherwise.
Confession time. I didn’t photograph this stage. Partly because I was a bit grumpy, partly because my camera was running out of battery and partly because my level of clumsiness, hot sugar and baking selfies are not a strong combination. Forgive me.
All you need to do to make the decorative caramel shards is gently heat the caster sugar in a saucepan until the vast majority has melted and turned caramel in colour. Don’t stir, don’t swish, just wait.
Remove from heat and lay out a sheet of greaseproof paper. With a fork trail the caramel back and forth across the paper. It will need to cool a little until it is stringy enough to do this, but it will get there. You don’t have to make individual cake toppers, just criss cross to make one massive one and break it up to get the shards.
It’s waaaaaay easier than you’d think and super effective looking.
(If you aren’t eating your cakes that day I recommend saving this step until the day of. I’m freeing most of mine bare and decorating them on party day)
Ice your cakes however you please, I’m a diehard fan of the piping bag. I sprinkled a little bit of cinnamon on mine before adding the caramel shards.