Time speeds by when you’re a parent. Ok those first few weeks with a newborn seem to be the longest days ever, but I think that’s mostly due to the fact you’re awake more than asleep; caring for a little one who thinks sleep is for the weak and feeding every 2 hours for 45 minutes.
LB is now three and what I didn’t appreciate until I was a parent was how those little stages whizz by in a blink of an eye. Just as you get used to a new rhythm something new comes along to change everything. Since LB was 6 weeks old we’ve always done something outdoors be it buggy running when she would happily be contained in a buggy or more recently – a Forest School Playgroup.
Forest School is an educational philosophy about getting outdoors no matter the weather and learning hands-on in nature. Very different to soft play (note: hats off to any parent that braves soft play, those places scare me!). The amazing Woodland Beasties is based at Heart of the Country Shopping Village by Swinfen, Lichfield and for the last year has been our regular haunt. Bonus is that there is a lovely little fairy door trail in the woods there too.
Some of the best days at Woodland Beasties were in the depths of winter, when the temperature hovered above zero. There was a handful of children and we played, drunk hot chocolate, made popcorn and toasted marshmallow while wrapped up in lots of layers to keep warm.
A few weeks ago was the end of our weekly trips down the A38 to Woodland Beasties as now LB is in pre-school we can no longer fit it in. As a way of saying thank you I made the fabulous ladies who run it a batch of cupcakes. I decided they had to be cupcakes topped with a campfire and the obligatory toasted marshmallow.
This recipe uses the all-in-one method and ideally you need to use an electric mixer. You can make them by hand, it just requires a great deal more elbow grease.
Forest School Campfire Cupcakes
Makes 6 cupcakes
Note: I always cook cupcakes in foil cake liners. They bake better and you don’t get the greasy marks on the covers like you do with traditional paper ones. You can buy them in all good cake decorating shops or ebay.
For the cakes:
- 2 eggs
- 100g self-raising flour
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp milk
For the buttercream:
- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 200g icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Yellow and orange food colour gel
For the decoration:
- Quality Street Matchsticks or pretzel, Flakes, Mikado/Pocky sticks, broken into 3cm long pieces
- Edible gold lustre (optional)
- Piping bag with 1M tip
- mini marshmallows, toasted briefly in a gas/candle flame
- cocktail stick
- First make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 150°c. Line your cupcake tray with 6 cupcake liners.
- Put all the cake ingredients in your food mixer bowl. Start slowly beating the mixture together then once it’s combined (and less likely to shoot out of the bowl!) turn the speed up to medium/high. Keep beating for 5 minutes. You’ll notice how the cake mixture becomes light and fluffy.
- Share the mixture between the six cupcake liners. Don’t overfill the liners more than 2/3 full or you’ll end up with highly domed cupcakes. If you end up baking 8 cakes, you make 8 – think of it as a chef perk. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Once baked remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- While the cakes are cooling make the buttercream. Just like the cakes you want to use electric mixer. Put all your ingredients in a deep bowl then beat for 4-5 minutes until the buttercream has increased in volume and it light and fluffy.
- Split the buttercream between two bowls. Colour one yellow and one orange. Spoon the buttercream a tbsp at a time, alternating the colours, into a piping bag prepared with the piping tip.
- Pipe a small blob of buttercream on to the cakes then place a couple of the Matchsticks on top of the buttercream to secure them. Then pipe smaller stars of buttercream on top to be the flames of the bonfire. Lean some of the Matchsticks against it as sticks.
- Put one of your mini toasted marshmallows on a cocktail stick then place this on top of the fire. Sprinkle with edible gold lustre.