Guest Blog : Christmas Cupcakes Galore

As it’s ‘Stir Up Sunday’ today I’ve been getting into the Christmas spirit and making my first ever Christmas pudding. I can’t wait to see how it turns out but there isn’t much to show you right now as it needs to mature for a month. So, in the spirit of getting ready for Christmas, my lovely friend Kelly has offered to share the fantastic Christmas cupcakes which she’s been baking this week. I am very excited to have my first guest blog on here – hope you like it!

Take it away Kelly ….

I absolutely love birthdays and birthday parties, therefore my daughters 5th birthday was yet another reason to get overly excited and bake! I decided to make cupcakes to put in party bags and fell back on skills I had learnt at a cupcake course I completed last year. Surprisingly, it all came flooding back to me and I managed to produce these ‘Holly Berry’ cupcakes. They were incredibly easy to make, using a victoria sponge recipe and sugar paste for decoration in white, green and red.

It’s all very simple:

* bake cakes
* cut out disks of white sugar paste
* stick on with buttercream (as glue)
* roll little balls of red sugar paste
* stick on with cake glue (available from good cake stores)
* cut out green sugar paste using a small holly cutter and stick on with more edible cake glue

Now to where I learned this craft. Approximately six years ago I read an article in a glossy magazine about a cupcake course at the beautiful Harrop Fold Farm in Cheshire. The write up made it sound completely idyllic, a cookery course set in the grounds of a working farm in the Peak District. This stayed in my memory until I had the time to do the course. I booked it and a friend and I completed the ‘Christmas Cupcakes Galore’ course last November. The course was run by Leah Stevenson who is the Chef at Harrop Fold Farm and she is responsible for organising the culinary events Cookery demos, Foodie Breaks, Speciality Dinners and Lunches. I cannot express how wonderful the day was. It began with a wonderful drive through the peak district and then we arrived at the farm, with chickens running around and beautifully converted farm buildings that are both B&B accommodation and the kitchen where our course was held. On arrival our small group (8 in total) were offered homemade mince pies (and homemade mince meat) and a cup of tea. We were then led to Leah’s festively decorated, highly stylish kitchen where we made varying flavoured sponge cakes (plain, cinnamon and apple, chocolate orange, lemon). Whilst these cooked and cooled we had a delicious lunch made by Leah and then returned to decorate. Oh what fun! We made buttercream and meringue toppings and Leah expertly showed us how to make all manner of festive craft from sugar paste. I have to admit I was a little heavy handed, but loved every minute of this and felt like a kid with play dough. The finishing products made me feel a huge sense of achievement as I’ve never been much of an artist, but was impressed with the results (I’ll let the photos speak for themselves). We even finished some of them off with glitter……every girls dream!

My friend and I were talking about this course last week and both reminisced about what a magical day it was and really got us in the festive spirit. I am still using my new found skills a year later and can’t wait to sign up for more courses as Harrop Fold Farm and hopefully stay in the B&B with my husband.

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