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Autumn baking

I have always loved the glorious autumnal colours , golden light and sheer abundance of seasonal local produce at this time of year. An exciting time for any cook or baker. Our harvest this year from the garden alone-of apples, pears and plums,( and blackberries from the hedgerow) is the best ever.

Our clocks go back at the end of the month as we descend into winter, and we are constantly reminded Christmas is fast approaching!

Halloween, Trick or Treat and all things spooky and creepy , closely followed by Bonfire Night seems to have become more and more commercial over the years, but can be fun.

These little monster cakes are more frightful than frightening I would say, but perfect for the kids to while away a few hours at half term maybe? Great to take along to any Halloween gathering, Trick or Treat or maybe a Bonfire gathering.

Each year I always make a quite delicious Parkin Cake. The recipe comes originally from the North of England and is traditionally served on Bonfire Night. A dark moist, slightly sticky cake made with black treacle, ginger oatmeal , this would be my personal preference! Served slightly warmed with a salted caramel or vanilla ice cream it is a delicious autumnal pudding. My recipe for it is in my latest book Seasonal Baking. So – two very different autumnal ideas to bake at home for October .

Little Monsters



All-in-one orange cake

The more revolting and gruesome the better! Thank you
to Molly and Jacob Eardley (aged 11 and 8) for designing
the originals for me to copy. I have listed the colours and
quantities of icing I used, but this is only a rough guide.
A great way to get children involved: just give them the
icing, colours, a piping bag or two (and this photo to
spark their imaginations) and leave them for an hour or
two! You could use food colouring pens too (although the
sugarpaste will need to have dried overnight first).

Makes 16

16 cupcake cases

For the cupcakes
250g unsalted butter, softened, diced, plus more for the tins
250g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
finely grated zest of 2 large oranges and juice of ½ large orange
250g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the syrup (optional)
juice of 1 orange
5 tbsp caster sugar

For the icing
500g icing sugar, sifted
5–6 tbsp orange or lemon juice

To make the monsters


500g white sugarpaste (or ready mixed colours of your choice)

The colours I used were:
pink food colour paste
green food colour paste
red food colour paste
yellow food colour paste
blue food colour paste
violet food colour paste
orange food colour paste
black food colour paste
60g piping bag white royal icing, no. 1 nozzle

To bake
Set the oven temperature to 180C/fan 170C/350F/gas mark 4.
Line two cupcake tins with paper cases. For this batter, I use an electric mixer and beater attachment, but do use a food processor, or a bowl and an electric
whisk, if you prefer.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, then add the orange zest, sugar, butter and eggs. Beat together and lastly add the orange juice. Do not over-mix.

Divide the batter between the cases. Bake for 15–18 minutes, or until
the cakes spring back to the touch.

Meanwhile, if you are making the syrup, mix the orange juice and sugar in a bowl. As soon as the cakes come from the oven, prick holes all over each with a cocktail stick and douse with syrup. (Only do this after they are defrosted, if
the cakes have been frozen.) Leave to cool completely in the tins.

When ready to ice, place the icing sugar in a bowl and gradually add
just enough orange juice to make a pourable consistency which coats
the back of a spoon. Pour a spoonful or so of the icing over each cake,
gently easing it over the cake with a spoon so it spreads to the edges.
Allow to set for an hour or so.

To decorate
Divide the white sugarpaste into however many colours you wish to
use (each of my monsters took 20–30g) and colour it, keeping back a little white for the eyes and teeth. Make your monsters!
Stick the monster parts together with royal icing, and decorate each
cake with a monster, adhering with a blob of royal icing, if necessary.

To colour sugarpaste
Place a piece of sugarpaste on a work surface. Dip a cocktail stick into a pot of food colour and knead in. It is much better to add the colour little by little and mix different colours. If it is sticky, add a little icing sugar. Knead until the sugarpaste is an even colour you like. Seal in a polythene bag and leave overnight, if possible, to firm up.

1 Discussion on “Autumn baking”
  • Fiona – another triumph! These little beasties were a great hit with my nephew and niece – they had a wonderful afternoon creating their own critters. Kiki x

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