So when Wren Kitchens got in touch and asked me to whip up a Christmas recipe with a twist, it was just the boost I needed to get started with some festive baking. Every year I end up planning all of these recipes I want to make over Christmas, some a bit more adventurous than others, some just involve sausage rolls.
But this year, I'm plan to keep on challenging myself with my bakes, like I did with the Bake Off Bake Along, starting with cake pops!
I've always been a big fan of gingerbread. Whether it's cake or biscuits, to me it is the ultimate Christmas scent. It fills me with that warm, cosy feeling that only this special time of year can bring. Especially when the scent fills the house when it's in the oven.
Every year we make a gingerbread house and attempt to piece it together successfully. Sometimes it survives the night, sometimes they don't make it through the day (for structural reasons or because it's just been eaten).
But this time, I tried out some gingerbread cake pops for the first time and oh boy, did they deliver. I've never made cake pops before, but always thought they sounded like the best thing: cake + buttercream = a truffled cake ball. You really can't go wrong.
They are the perfect treat to make for a Christmas party or make with your little ones this Christmas!
You can decorate cake pops any way you like! I've chosen two simple and classic coatings, the first is using white candy melts and sprinkles and the second is using dark chocolate and crushed ginger biscuits. I can highly recommend the chocolate and ginger combo, they were the stand out ones for me.
Festive Gingerbread Cake Pops
Makes: 14 medium cake pops or up to 20 small cake pops
(adapted from GoodFood)
50ml whole milk
1 tbsp black treacle
75ml vegetable oil
125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g icing sugar
Squidge of toffee/caramel sauce
Gingerbread/ginger nut biscuits, crushed
Vegetable oil to loosen the coating
Cake pop sticks
A block of styrofoam or an upside egg box (to put your cake pops in while they set)
- Grease and line the base of a 20cm baking tin and preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4.
- In a saucepan, bring the milk and treacle to a slow simmer, being careful to not let it catch on the pan. Once combined, set the mixture aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, spices and a dash of salt together.
- Whisk together the oil, buttermilk, egg and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add the cooled treacle and milk mixture to the bowl and mix well. Next, pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and combine until there are no lumps and it is smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Leave on a wire rack until completely cooled.
- To prepare the buttercream, beat the butter until pale and fluffy, for about 5 minutes. Slowly sift in the icing sugar and then add a splash of whole milk and a squidge of toffee or caramel sauce to taste. Beat the buttercream until light and smooth. Add an extra splash of milk if the buttercream is too thick.
- Take the cool cake and crumble it in a bowl or in a food processor, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Starting with a small spoonful, add the buttercream to the cake crumbs. You don't need to add all the buttercream, as the cake is very soft already. Add a spoonful at a time and mix with a metal spoon to combine. Test the mixture, by scooping a ball with your hands, if it holds together as a ball, then you've reached the perfect balance!
- Using an ice cream scoop of about 1 inch, scoop the cake pops into balls and place on a plate to the side. Melt your chosen coating, candy melts or chocolate and set to the side. Take your cake pop sticks and dip them into the coating before inserting them halfway into the cake pops. Repeat the process until they all have sticks and place in the fridge to chill.
- Pour your coating into a tall, narrow cup or container. Remove the cake pops from the fridge and dip into your coating.Working one by one, decorate your cake pops straight away as the coating will dry fairly quickly. Place the cake pop in a block of styrofoam or an upside egg box to set before continuing with the rest of your cake pops. Once they are set, serve and enjoy!
Things I've learnt when making cake pops:
- Start small: When I made these cake pops, a website had advised a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop was a good size for a cake pop. They were wrong. Go for a one inch scoop and don't look back. By the time you coat them and decorate, they grow in size. But I still love that mine are jumbo festive cake pops!
- Sticks: I had these shorter cake pop sticks in my cupboard, just waiting to be used one day, but I've now learnt that longer sticks are the all round best choice. By the time you get the cake pop on the shorter stick, it doesn't leave much room to stand them up safely.
- Coating: I found the dark chocolate easier to decorate cake pops with, rather than the candy melts. You can loosen the chocolate with a little bit of vegetable oil if you find it too thick to coat your cake pops.
Here's hoping these little tips will let you make the best festive cake pops for Christmas. Decorate them however you like, whether it's simple or extravagant, these cake pops are sure to be a crowd pleaser!
This post is in collaboration with Wren Kitchens. Check out Wren's Christmas Kitchen calendar for more recipes with a twist!