Image by Holly Bell
Just back to school and already I'm thinking about the opportunity for wearing thick woollen jumpers, drinking soup and preparing a feast for Bonfire night. There are a few things that must be done on Bonfire night. These are The Law according to me:
- You must eat baked beans even if you don't like them.
- You must eat a jacket potato out of foil and with a plastic fork. It should be so scalding hot you will try and blow the hot air from your mouth.
- You must wear something woollen, preferably mittens, but a hat or gloves are also acceptable. You get extra points if the mittens are attached to each other by a long piece of string that passes though the arms of your coat.
- You must write your name using a sparkler and be disappointed when the first letter disappears before the last one is written. Unless you name is Bob or Tim or Fay in which case you may have time.
- You must have a bad Catherine Wheel experience. A phut phut whizz, plonk.
- You must eat the toffee from a toffee apple in an undainty fashion, discarding the mealy apple for wildlife to snack on.
- You must try and have a conversation about hedgehogs hiding in bonfires. This conversation may include reminiscing about Blue Peter programmes from your childhood.
- You should say 'oooh' and 'aaah' a lot. Obviously.
- If you go to an organised show you must moan about how quickly the fireworks are over.
- Re: the above Law; all the adults must have a conversation about how expensive fireworks are.
- If you put on a show and a 'spread' at home you should serve warm soup, possibly chilli and cold beer. Dads or Person Pretending Not To Be Afraid of Fireworks should do a lot of crouched running from the back of the garden to the back door. It's The Law.
- You should serve these cupcakes. Not just to kids. Adults too. It's amusing to watch a grown man try to navigate Oreo dirt and a buttercream flame.
This recipe is all about the preparation. You just need to be a busy bee (with helpers if possible) getting everything ready. Think of it as a baking version of a stir fry. Lots of chopping (ie/beating, whizzing, rolling and snapping) before a fast fry (assembly job).
I've made a video in case my instructions are difficult to understand. Please forgive the poor lighting, obsession with uttering 'erm' and the general detritus in the background. I'm clearly an amateur when it comes to video making. Forgive me. I will get better. Well, I can hope.
12 cupcakes (any flavour)
150g soft butter
300g icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk or water
4 chocolate creme Oreo cookies
160g white fondant icing
45g mini mint Matchmakers
Food colouring: I used Sugarflair Tangerine/apricot, Liquorice, Primrose, Red Extra, Christmas Red, Dark Brown
Make the buttercream by beating the butter until soft using either a wooden spoon, a handheld mixer or a stand mixer. Then add the icing sugar a spoonful at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and milk/water and beat well until soft and creamy - about 7 minutes.
Divide the buttercream into equal thirds, then remove a heaped tablespoon from each bowl and transfer to another (a 4th bowl). This 4th bowl will have less buttercream in that the other three. This is the one to colour dark brown. Use a toothpick to transfer the food colouring into the icing. Mix well with a spoon. Colour the other three bowls of buttercream red, orange and yellow. For the red colour use both red food colourings to achieve a really dark red. Spoon the buttercream into an icing bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip, a teaspoon at a time, alternating between red, orange and yellow.
Make the 'dirt' by food processing the Oreo cookies. If you use the original ones with the cream centre, remove this before blending. Place the 'dirt' in a bowl into which one of your cupcakes will fit. Prepare the Matchmakers by snapping the mini ones in half to make 72 sticks - or cut regular Matchmakers up into 72 sticks about 2cm long. Massage a dot of the black food colouring into the white fondant until you have a marbled effect. Roll a ball of fondant about 1cm across between your palms to make stones. Repeat to make 72.
Use a knife to spread some of the dark brown buttercream around the outside rim of the cupcake, about 1cm thick all round. Be sure to spread it to the edge. Tip the cupcake upside down and push into the Oreo dirt. Pipe a swirl of buttercream 'fire' into the middle of the cupcake, holding the piping bag at a 90 degree angle, inside the Oreo dirt. Be sure to release the pressure of the piping bag as you come to the end of the piping. Place 6 fondant stones into the very edge of the buttercream fire, evenly spaced. Add 6 Matchmaker sticks in between the fondant stones. Done!
Holly blogs at Recipes from a Normal Mum
Her first book is out now, also called Recipes from a Normal Mum