Now that the Christmas decorations have come down and the last of the leftovers have finally been consumed, the true gloominess of January presents itself. Dark, cold and probably very, very wet, the month is bad enough before you resolve to try and become a better person by joining a gym and giving up alcohol for a few weeks. Why do we do this to ourselves every year? I’ve yet to meet someone who has claimed their life changed because they went out and bought a new pair of trainers on the 1st of January, or became ‘more approachable’ by writing it down in their diary.
It is silly to inflict this torture on ourselves in what is already one of the worst months of the year. Instead, I suggest moving the ‘new year, new you‘ resolutions to February. By the second month of the year, your body will no longer expect you to start drinking at breakfast time and have pudding and cheese after every meal, you will have got used to putting 2013 as the date (even if you haven’t quite got over how ugly that number sounds) and, most importantly, February is only 28 days long. This makes any goals you’ve set yourself seem far more achievable, and by postponing these aims by a month, you’ll feel super-smug as you sip green tea and snack on carrot sticks while everyone around you gave up 2 weeks ago.
So sod January, I’m in denial.
Which leads me to the cakes. I am not, by any means, an accomplished baker. Last summer I decided it would be nice to make cookies to take into the office on the last day of my internship. Sadly, I had no idea what I was doing and the resulting cookies were hard and bitter. Still, I took them in for my colleagues, and most of them sampled them. Only the boss turned down the chance to try my (I quote) ‘rock cakes’, but it turned out he’d gone and bought Prosecco and a Victoria sponge for us all instead which was much better.
What I lack in baking skills, I make up for in eating ability. There is a long-running joke in my family about my devotion to brandy butter. Every year the brandy butter comes out with the Christmas pudding and every year I have to wait until everyone else has helped themselves to brandy butter because they all know that, if I had it my way, I would eat the entire bowl without coming up for air. So when I came across a recipe for brandy butter cupcakes, I knew I was onto a winner. I waited until Twelfth Night to make them, to have a last blow-out of Christmassy food. Then I realised we were out of brandy. Instead of giving up on baking and going to watch The Holiday for the 450th time, I decided to make rum fairy cakes instead. With ‘cheery’ rum buttercream icing.
It is unlikely that you’ll want to give these a go, but if the photos of my creation (doctored on Instagram to make them look slightly more appetising) inspire you, here is the recipe.
You will need:
(For the cakes)
- 75g margarine
- 75g self-raising flour
- 75g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp dark rum
(For the icing)
- 50-75g of softened butter (I started with 50g but ended up adding more)
- 100g icing sugar
- Dark rum (to taste)
- Vanilla extract (to taste)
- Food colouring
- Silver sugar balls
To make denial cakes:
- Preheat fan oven to 160 C
- Line fairycake tin with 12 paper cases
- Place sugar and butter in bowl and cream together with electric whisk
- Add the eggs and whisk
- Sieve the flour into the bowl and continue to whisk
- Still whisking, add the vanilla essence and rum
- Spoon mixture into cases
- Place cakes in oven and leave to cook for 10-15mins
To make the icing:
- Make sure you’re butter is really really soft before you start!!! I didn’t do this so for a long time my butter’cream’ looked more like crumble mixture
- Cut up the butter into small chunks, then place in a bowl and whisk
- Add the icing sugar and continue to whisk, turning the bowl in your hand as you do so
- Still whisking, add the vanilla extract and rum to taste (I put in a tsp of vanilla and a good slosh of rum)
- If desired, add food colouring. After raiding the kitchen cupboard, I found a bottle of red food colouring and a bottle of blue colouring. I thought that combining the two might make a nice festive purple, but in fact it resulted in weird palma violet shade. I then added a load more blue colouring so the icing ended up looking a bit like a Muppet had vomited on the cakes.
- Spoon the icing onto the cakes. Top with silver sugar ball (remember when eating to swallow this whole to avoid cracking your teeth)
Although the cakes didn’t really rise all that well, and the icing didn’t look that appetising, they actually tasted ok. I suppose you can’t go too far wrong where sugar, rum and vanilla is concerned.
I’ll now spend the rest of the week stuffing my face with these whilst pinning nice spring pictures to Pinterest to trick myself into thinking winter is already over.