Easter Bunny Cupcakes

Hoppy Easter! There’s not much cuter than a fun animal themed cupcakes, especially if it’s Easter bunny themed!

What could be more fun than some joyously decorated easter cupcakes, and these Easter bunnies borrowing into their cupcake burrows are sure to bring a smile to anyone who is lucky enough to be given one. I got the idea from a picture I saw online (sadly I can’t take full credit for the cute look) but have adapted this BBC Good Food idea into a Lucy’s Friendly Foods version. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this cute addition to Easter.

As it’s Easter, it’s almost obligatory for chocolate to feature so the base of these cupcakes is a delicious rich and moist chocolate sponge – besides, in my opinion the chocolate makes it resemble a rabbit borrow, just a little bit!

I’ve made my Easter bunnies white, for some reason that seemed right, and so it’s vanilla heavy buttercream mounds garnished with fondant icing bunny feet and tails. You just need about ¼ of a pack of white fondant (Sainsbury’s own brand is may contain nuts but not peanuts, or Beau brand you can buy from Nutfree Marketplace is good for everyone)

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, seam-free, vegetarian and vegan)

 

Makes 6-8 cupcakes

150ml dairy-free milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

60g dairy-free margarine, melted

140g self-raising flour

3 tbsp cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

100g caster sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
  2. In a jug combine the milk, lemon juice, vanilla (if using) and bicarb. Set aside.
  3. Melt the dairy-free margarine, set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa and salt. Stir in the sugar.
  5. Pour the melted margarine into the milk mixture and give it a good stir. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together to form a smooth batter. 
  6. 2/3rds fill each cupcake liner and bake for 18-20 minutes until risen and a knife comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack.

White Vanilla Buttercream

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

enough to generously cover the 6-8 cupcakes in the recipe above

75g dairy-free butter or margarine

275g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

½ tbsp dairy-free milk

Plus about ¼ pack fondant icing and a few drop of pink food colour

  1. Whisk the margarine until it is light and fluffy
  2. Add the icing sugar, vanilla paste and dairy-free milk and whisk until you have a light buttercream.
  3. Pipe or spread a generous amount onto the top of each cooled cupcake

To decorate: pipe or spread a mound of white buttercream  onto the middle of each cupcakes. Smooth well so it could look like a bunny bottom. Secure on two back feet (with pink toe beans for added cuteness) and a bunny tail, both of which are moulded out of fondant icing.

The Very Best Chocolate Cupcakes

These are not just any cupcakes, these are the very best chocolate cupcakes. A deep chocolate flavoured light and fluffy sponge, topped with a rich and intense chocolate buttercream, even Marks & Spencer’s would market these as the best! If you’re stuck a home today due to the massive storm, you might want to make these (you’ll likely have all the ingredients in) and cheer everyone up.

I’ve got out of the habit of making cupcakes; I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because I don’t so often cook for whole classes of children anymore. I used to bake a sweet treat for the girls classes every Friday when they were in junior school, now it’s more like once a term and cookies often trump cupcakes because they’re so much easier to transport. But there is nothing like a good cupcake, and these double chocolate delights are a class above. 

This recipe serves 6 or so, just the right amount for a houseful on a Friday night after school, but you could easily multiply the recipe if you have more to feed – after all, no-one would want to miss one of these!

The Very Best Chocolate Cupcakes

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

 

Makes 6-8 cupcakes

150ml dairy-free milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

60g dairy-free margarine, melted

140g self-raising flour

3 tbsp cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

100g caster sugar

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
  2. In a jug combine the milk, lemon juice, vanilla (if using) and bicarb. Set aside.
  3. Melt the dairy-free margarine, set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa and salt. Stir in the sugar
  5. Pour the melted margarine into the milk mixture and give it a good stir. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix together to form a smooth batter. 
  6. 2/3rds fill each cupcake liner and bake for 18-20 minutes until risen and a knife comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack.

 For the chocolate buttercream:

enough to generously cover the 6-8 cupcakes in the recipe above

75g dairy-free margarine

250g icing sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

½ tbsp dairy-free milk

 

  1. Whisk the margarine until it is light and fluffy
  2. Add the icing sugar, cocoa powder and dairy-free milk and whisk until you have a light buttercream.
  3. Pipe or spread a generous amount onto the top of each cooled cupcake

Iced Buns

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2014 photo!

Here we have another updated recipe. I rarely make Iced Buns but this has been another recipe that has gathered a lot of great comments and likes over the years, so it needed revisiting, updating and embellishing with some shiny new photos! (Although I have kept one of the previous photos just for my own nostalgia – haven’t cameras improved over the past years!)

Iced buns, viewed in the window of any English bakery, are a must for a collection of comfort food. For some reason they make me think of roaring fires and cosy knitwear – odd I know! Apparently some iced buns found in supermarkets are dairy-free, but I’ve never found any that are also nut-free – if you know of any safe brands please let me know?

Anyway, these iced buns are the perfect tea time treat, and this recipe will give you authentic but friendly buns to please your friends and family. They certainly go down a treat in this house 🙂

Iced Buns 

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 6

  • 150ml dairy-free milk
  • 50g dairy-free margarine
  • 260g strong bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3g or 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 50g caster sugar

for the icing:

  • 175g icing sugar
  • 1 to 2 tbsp water

– Melt the margarine into the milk (don’t make it more than tepid though)
– Place the flour, salt, yeast and caster sugar in a bowl and pour in the warmed milk and margarine mixture.
– Bring to a dough and knead until smooth and bounces back when you press a finger onto the surface.
– Place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to double in size in a warm place.
– Divide into 6 even sized pieces and form into balls, then roll out to sausage shapes, trying to make them nice and even.
– Place about 1cm apart on a lined baking sheet, cover and leave to rise for 30 minutes
– Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade/180 degrees fan, or gas mark 4
– Bake for 15 minutes until golden, risen and they sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

– Meanwhile, make the icing by mixing together the icing sugar and water to form a very thick, smooth icing. Start by adding 1 tbsp of water and gradually add more as required.
– Once the buns are cool top with the thick water icing.

Caramelised Roasted Banana and Chocolate Loaf

A good banana loaf recipe is a winning addition to any baking repertoire, and this update of a 2013 recipe, it’s one you definitely need in your life. I have others, but this loaf is a cut above the rest with the additions of Lotus Caramelised spread (you could use peanut butter), roasted bananas and large chunks of rich, dark chocolate. By all means use nuts or dried fruit instead of the chocolate, or even just leave them out, it will still work nicely, but make sure you roast the bananas for that extra special banana flavour. That’s the key to this one.

This is a beautiful loaf just plain, but if you want a bit of pizazz then i’d recommend either a water icing drizzle, or the extra special biscoff drizzle.

Caramelised Roasted Banana and Chocolate Loaf (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes 1 2lb loaf

  • 100ml or 1/2 cup oat milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 125g or 1 cup plain flour
  • 85g or 3/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp flourless oil, I use sunflower
  • 2 medium roasted bananas, mashed
  • 75g or 1/3 cup Lotus caramelised spread
  • 50 g or 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate (optional)
  • glaze: icing sugar and water, or 1 tbsp biscoff spread, 3 tbsp icing sugar and 1 tbsp water whisked til smooth

– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 4

– Halve the bananas lengthways and roast for 20-30 minutes. Mash and cool.

– Line or grease a 2 lb loaf tin

– Add the lemon juice to the oat milk and set aside.

– Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.

– Add the bananas, caramelised spread and oil to the oat milk mix. Stir well

– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix until all the ingredients are well combined. Add the chopped chocolate (if using) and gently stir to make sure they’re evenly distributed.

– Fill the loaf tin with the mix.

– Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden and a knife comes out clean.

– Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

– Drizzle with a simple water icing.

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Chocolate Tiffin Wreath Cake

Our family is divided over the issue of Christmas cake; I make one every year and some of the family devour it like there’s no tomorrow, and others would simply rather have anything else.

I’ll be making both a chocolate yule log and a traditional Christmas cake to please everyone, but I reckon this chocolate tiffin wreath cake will probably be the most popular offering. Not many can resist a good tiffin, and this version is particularly fine with plenty of fudgey chocolate filling mixed with a good selection of biscuits (plus no random bits of dried fruit which seem to give my children nightmares!)


You could easily make this is any cake tin, but if you have a bundt tin, you’ll get a fine wreath shape which immediately looks festive and rather tempting. I’ve been quite restrained and topped this with a white chocolate snowy like drizzle and some Christmas decorations, but i reckon you could go all out if that’s more your style 🙂

Chocolate Biscuit Tiffin Wreath Cake

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, can be gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)


170 g dairyfree chocolate
120g dairyfree margarine
3 tbsps golden or maple syrup
12 biscuits, roughly crushed ( I used Lotus )
20 g Rice Krispies
50g white chocolate
Christmas decorations

  1. Line a bundt tin or loaf tin with two layers of cling film
  2. Melt together the chocolate, margarine and syrup. Stir well to form a gorgeous truffle mixture
    Fold in the crushed biscuits.
  3. Pour into the lined mould and bring over the cling film so it is entirely covered. Press down firmly for a compacted centre and even top
  4. Place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to firm up
  5. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the top
    add decorations and leave to set

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Pumpkin spice is everywhere these days, everyone seems to go crazy for pumpkin spice lattes so I thought I’d better jump on the PSL bandwagon and use pumpkin spice in one of my recipes.

Initially i thought the spice would be pumpkin based, and i’m just not a fan of any kind of gourd, but thankfully it’s just the spicing used, i’m guessing, in pumpkin pie. The recipes I’ve found seem to be a combination of sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. I’ve mixed mine up a bit and used mixed spice instead of cloves as I prefer the overall effect. If you want to be more traditional, just sub ground cloves for the mixed spice in my recipe. The wonderful thing with this spice is that it contains sugar so you can keep a little jar on hand to make seasonal hot chocolate, or as an autumn addition to your bakes.

Muffins are a perennial favourite in this house and this recipe has been billed as one of the best yet! The pumpkin spice forms a sugary spicy seam through the centre of the muffin as well as scenting the batter and also adding an extra layer of spice on top. Make these muffins and you can not only eat the essence of autumn but you’ll also make the kitchen smell wonderful!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)


makes 6 large muffins


20g caster sugar
25g soft brown sugar
1/2 tbsp baking powder
150g plain flour
pinch of salt
55g dairy-free margarine, melted
80ml dairy-free milk
80ml dairy-free yogurt
20ml golden or maple syrup
3 tsp pumpkin spice (recipe below)
6 tsp pumpkin spice for the middle and top
sugar crystals for decoration, if you have them

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Fill a muffin tray with liners.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Pour in the wet ingredients and combine. You do not want any clumps of raw flour but do not over-mix, a little lumpy is good.
3. 1/4 fill the liners and then sprinkle 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice over the middle. Cover with the remaining muffin mix.
4. Top with another 1/2 tsp of the pumpkin spice, plus a sprinkle of sugar crystals (if using)
5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until risen and golden and a knife comes out clean.
6. Cool on a wire rack


Pumpkin Spice

50g caster sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp mixed spice

Mix all together and keep in a sealed jar.

Blueberry muffins

I do have a fondness for blueberry muffins, they’re a great excuse to eat cake for breakfast, or anytime for that matter! Are blueberry muffins a little out of favour these days? They don’t seem to be on my radar anymore… maybe it’s because you don’t come across them often, or maybe it’s because I don’t get out very often these days 😂

Maybe it’s time to put the humble but rather delicious blueberry muffin centre stage once again? Well you can certainly do just that with these friendly versions. The sponge is light and fluffy just like a muffin should be, and once you’ve added a good handful of blueberries, the fruity tart morsels and delicate sponge make a stunning combination. If like in this house, some people have an aversion to fruit in baked goods, it’s pretty simple to divide the batter and add choc chips to half and blueberries to the other, then everyone is happy 😉

If using choc chips simply replace the lemon zest with 1 tsp vanilla extract and use a big handful of choc chips rather than the blueberries.

These muffins keep well for a few days in a loosely cover container, or freeze well if you’d rather 😀

Blueberry Muffins

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 12

230g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tbsp cornflour

Pinch of salt

170g caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon (for the blueberry version)

200ml dairy free milk

70g dairy free margarine, melted

1 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar

A big handful of blueberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade and line a muffin tray with paper liners.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together and add the zest if using.
  3. Combine the milk, melted margarine and vinegar and pour into the dry ingredients.
  4. Gently mix so the batter is a bit lumpy but there are no patches of raw flour.
  5. Stir in the blueberries.
  6. 2/3rds fill each muffin liner and bake for 15-20 minutes until we’ll risen and golden. Cool.

Victoria Sponge Cake Jars

I’m going to go a bit of a picnic theme over the next few recipes.

It’s June and sunny and so it’s just perfect to get outside and have a picnic kind of weather, and I feel the need for some more easily transportable goodies to take on days out. Some picnic foods make sense (sandwiches, bars and robust salads) but some things which are recommended for outings just don’t seem suitable. Books and magazines always suggest taking cakes on picnics, probably because they look appealing in the styled picnic photos but in my opinion cake never transports well, especially once it’s sat in the heat for a while and been jiggled about in a Tupperware box. Until now that is! With these delightfully tempting Victoria sponge cake jars you can have your cake and eat it, even on a hot picnic.

With these jars you get all the taste and elegant beauty of a Victoria sponge neatly squeezed into a jam jar, giving not only easy transportation but also the perfect individual servings. I’ve given two versions: one a traditional raspberry Victoria sponge and the other a more unconventional chocolate version. Take your pick, or do as I did and make two to please everyone 🙂

This sponge recipe is really fantastic; the yogurt and custard powder gives a taste and a structure is so authentic with none of the crumbliness that some egg-free sponges can suffer from. I hope you like it as much as we do 🙂

Obviously these jars can be dressed up anyway you like, add whatever additions you fancy and you’ll certainly have a show stopper dessert in your cool bag.

Victoria Sponge Cake Jars

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

For the sponge: (makes up to 8 jars worth)

185g self-raising flour

1 tbsp custard powder (or cornflour)

110g caster sugar

3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt

145ml dairy-free milk

1 tbsp dairy free yogurt

50g dairy-free margarine, melted

1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5. Grease and line 1 cake tin
  2. Sift together the flour, custard powder, bicarb and salt
  3. Stir in the sugar
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the dairy-free milk, melted dairy-free margarine, yogurt and vanilla.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix gently until well combined.
  6. Pour into the cake tins and bake for 30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean
  7. Cool in the cake tin for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

for the icing: (enough for 4 jars, multiply as necessary)

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine

1 tbsp vegetable shortening (or just use 4 tbsp of dairy-free margarine in total)

200g icing sugar

1 tsp dairy-free milk

  1. Whisk together the margarine and shortening and well combined and soft
  2. Gradually add the icing sugar and the milk until you have a light and fluffy buttercream

chocolate ganache drizzle: (for the chocolate version, enough for two jars)

20g dairy-free chocolate

1 tsp dairy-free margarine

1 tsp dairy-free milk

  1. Melt the ingredients together until you have a smooth ganache

To assemble:

  1. For the raspberry Victoria sponges: pipe in a dollop of buttercream, top with a circle of sponge (cut out using a cookie cutter so it fits snugly in the jar), top with 1 tsp raspberry jam and a swirl of buttercream, repeat.
  2. For the chocolate Victoria sponges: pipe in a dollop of buttercream, top with a circle of sponge (cut out using a cookie cutter so it fits snugly in the jar), top with a swirl of buttercream and a drizzle of ganache plus a few chocolate chips, repeat.

Churros Cake

We’re still in desperate need of anything that’ll make us feel good and for these dark dismal lock-down days to pass as quickly as possible, although that said today was beautiful and sunny and hopefully a hint of brighter things to come.
Isn’t it crazy that we’re nearly a year into the Covid-19 pandemic and some of the simple joys of the first lockdown (the peace and quiet, quality family time, having to be at home but in some really gorgeous sunny weather and just the novelty of the whole situation – whilst not forgetting the horror and the misery people have had to cope with) has been replaced with boredom and drudge. No-one has zoom calls and quizzes anymore, no-one enjoys yet another day with nothing interesting to do, it’s all gone on for far too long.
I do believe that some good food and tempting treats do add little rays of sunshine into these otherwise dismal days and have been baking like crazy. Some experiments are quickly forgotten about, others become the seeds of new and exciting recipes. This is one of those successes…

Churros, cinnamon buns, snickerdoodles and more – all these bakes have such a wonderful warmth about them, there’s something so ultimately comforting about baking (and eating) with cinnamon and sugar. It’s almost like a sweet warm hug, the kind of hug we’re all missing right now.

I saw a photo of a churros cake on Instagram and immediately knew I had to make a ‘friendly’ version. So here we have a lightly spiced sponge, rippled with a spicy cinnamon swirl and then sprinkled with a crunchy sugar coating, just like a churros in cake form. How could that not be a spectacular combination? Add a warm, dark chocolate ganache sauce and you’re in churros heaven!

 

I served this cake for both pudding and a teatime treat, and it worked superbly in both scenarios. It won’t look quite so pretty without a bundt cake tin but it’ll still taste amazing. Let me know what you think?

Churros Cake

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

 

makes one cake

370g self-raising flour

2 tbsps Birds custard powder (make sure it’s the diary free version)

220g caster sugar

1 1/2 tsps bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

290ml dairy-free milk

2 tbsps dairy-free yogurt

100g dairy-free margarine, melted

3 tbsp soft brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp caster sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5. Grease the cake tin with melted margarine and sprinkle over a dusting of caster sugar and cinnamon
  2. Sift together the flour, custard powder, bicarb and salt
  3. Stir in the caster sugar
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the dairy-free milk, melted dairy-free margarine and yogurt.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix gently until well combined.
  6. Pour half into the cake tin, sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar and then top with the other half of the better. Gently marble thebatzer with a skewer and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a knife comes out clean
  7. Remove from the tin and sprinkle with the extra sugar whilst still warm. If you want to add a chocolate sauce melt together 50g dark chocolate with 3 tbsp dairy-free cream.

Caramel Muffins

When I last visited the supermarket (how is it that a simple trip to the supermarket is now the most exciting part of the week), I spied a sign for a delicious looking caramel muffin in the coffee shop window. Now a caramel muffin sounds like a great idea, why haven’t i thought of that before? It’s funny how I usually get inspiration from so many different places, now it’s either from a screen or a brief trip out of the house. I do hope that when this is all over we don’t take simple luxuries, like eating out, browsing the shops or just the signs of bustling life for granted.

Since we as family have become rather fond of the new caramel filled Nomo bars (simply the best free-from alternative to a Cadbury’s Caramel that you are likely to find), I had the idea of stuffing the muffins with a square to give a gooey caramel chocolatey centre. This results in a filling that remains gooey even once the muffins have cooled, and an oozy chocolatey caramel simply has to be a good idea. These muffins don’t need the icing, but it does add a bit of extravagance that is very welcome in the rather dismal winter of 2021.

Caramel Muffins

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 6 large muffins

20g caster sugar

25g soft brown sugar

1/2 tbsp baking powder

125g plain flour

pinch of salt

55g dairy-free margarine, melted

75ml dairy-free milk

75ml dairy-free yogurt

30ml golden or maple syrup

1/2 tsp caramel essence (optional)

6 squares of Nomo caramel filled chocolate 

for the icing:

40g dairy-free margarine

80g icing sugar

splash of dairy-free milk

  1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade. Fill a muffin tray with liners.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Pour in the wet ingredients and combine. You do not want any clumps of raw flour but do not over-mix, a little lumpy is good.
  3. 1/4 fill the liners and then place a square of the chocolate in the middle. Cover with the remaining muffin mix.
  4. I topped mine with some Demerara sugar, but it’s not necessary
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden and a knife comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.
  7. If icing, whisk together the icing ingredients and pipe rosettes on the top of each muffin, topped with another square of caramel chocolate if you wish.