(vegan baking + other minor obsessions)
Wow, Christmas is around the corner once again. Where has the year gone? And once again I find myself with far less time on my hands than I would need to bake up all of the Christmas treats I have been dreaming about in the last couple of months. If you find yourself in the same situation, fear not! These cupcakes don’t require advanced planning, come together quickly and capture the flavours and the essence of Christmas, adding a festive touch to any party! I plan to have a batch of cakes in the freezer and frosting in the fridge to quickly assemble for last-minute holiday get-togethers. Homemade mincemeat is delicious in this recipe, but shop-bought will work just as well. This recipe makes a generous number of cupcakes (I got about 22) and frosting, both of which can be kept in the freezer separately.
200g/7oz/1 cup vegetable shortening (Trex)
400g/14oz/3½ cups icing sugar, sifted
60ml/2fl oz/¼ cup brandy
1½ tsp vanilla extract
Whip the shortening in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment until softened. Add the sugar and continue to beat until combined. Add the brandy and vanilla extract and mix at high speed for a further 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Refrigerate while you make the cakes.
145g/5oz/1 cup fine plain wholemeal flour
125g/4½oz/1 cup plain flour
120g/4¼oz/¾ cup rapadura or coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
60ml/2fl oz/¼ cup sunflower oil
120ml/3¾fl oz/½ cup soya milk
2 tsp cider vinegar
½ tsp vanilla extract
280g/10oz peeled, cored and grated apples
Sprinkles and decorations, as desired (I used freeze-dried strawberry pieces on the red cupcakes and sugar snowflakes on the silver ones)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (or 160°C/315°F for fan-assisted/convection ovens) and line a muffin tin with cupcake paper cases.
2. Put the flours, sugar, baking powder, bicarb, spices and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
3. In a small bowl, combine the oil, soya milk, vinegar and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients along with the grated apples and mincemeat. Whisk until well combined, but do not overmix. Divide the mixture into the cake cases, filling them to two-thirds. Bake the cupcakes for about 26 minutes (20 minutes for fan ovens) until they are cooked through and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before frosting, and cook a second batch if you have leftover cake batter.
Once the cakes are completely cool, you can frost them using a piping bag or palette knife and decorate with your chosen sprinkles.