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Ingredients

For the Cupcakes:

  • 170 g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • pinch of salt
  • 170 g butter, room temperature
  • 170 g soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp soured cream or Greek yoghurt
  • 140 g grated carrot
  • 110 g raisins

For the Father Christmas Decoration:

  • 225 g ready to roll white icing
  • 3 tbsp apricot jam
  • chocolate honeycomb balls or chocolate chips
  • red food colouring
  • white writing icing

For the Alternative Maple Icing:

  • 140 g icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp water
  • 30 g pecan nuts, chopped (optional), to decorate

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C /375°F /Gas 5/Fan 170°C. Line two bun tins with paper cases.
  2. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and salt, and set aside. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, soured cream and sifted dry ingredients, and beat until just combined. Fold in the carrot and raisins.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared bun tins, filling each paper case around three-quarters full (an ice-cream scoop is good for this). Bake for 18–22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the tins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To make Father Christmas Faces, colour one third of the icing red.  Roll out the white icing and cut out wiggly circles to fit the cupcakes. Warm the apricot jam in a small saucepan (if it’s very lumpy you may need to strain it) and brush a little over the surface of the cooled cakes. Place the circles of white icing on top. Cut out triangles to form hats from the red icing and attach bobbles on top made from small white balls of white icing. Add two chocolate honeycomb balls or two chocolate chips for the eyes and use the tube of writing icing to form the hair and a beard.
  5. To make the maple icing (if you choose not to decorate these as Father Christmas) put the icing sugar in a bowl and stir in the maple syrup. Add the water, a few drops at a time, to make an icing which will thickly coat the back of a spoon. Spread onto the cupcakes and sprinkle over the pecans (if using)
  6. The iced cupcakes will keep in an airtight tin for 3 to 4 days. Baked un-iced cupcakes can be frozen for up to a month. Defrost for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature
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