Thursday, 24 October 2013

Cuppies 'n' Cream Halloween Cupcakes

Welcome to Cuppies ‘n’ Cream, my home-based cupcake company.  I’m Natalie and this is my blog, a place to keep track of my baking and decorating experiences. I’ve been baking professionally since 2011 and I got the cupcake bug after baking some cupcakes for a friend’s daughter. I am completely self-taught and have developed my skills by experimenting and creating lots of new flavours and combinations along the way.

My blog is a place to explore recipes, decorating techniques, tutorials, and also includes my visits to ‘cupcakeries’ (Is that a word? I don’t know, but I like it). You’ll find ideas for cupcakes, cakes, and hopefully (in the not too distant future), I’ll add brownies and cookies too. One more thing to add is that I hate artificial flavourings and extracts. All my recipes use the ‘real-thing’ in the ingredients. I love the taste of fresh ingredients and my favourites are lemons and raspberries. Oh, and I always try to source locally if possible too.

Cupcakes for Halloween

So, enough about me…I’d now like to share a recipe for some yummy Halloween cupcakes.  What ingredients could I possibly use that would remind me of this fun occasion?  It has to pumpkins! My son will also be happy as he can do the usual carving of a spooky face at the same time – waste not, want not!  And to me, nothing says autumn like pumpkins do. So as Fright Night is drawing in and guys and ghouls will be gathering for tricks and treats, why not hand your friends and family a Pumpkin and Cinnamon cupcake – you can also try to convince them they are indulging in a healthy snack too.

With these Pumpkin and Cinnamon Cupcakes, you will have natural orange cupcakes that are infused with the real flavour and goodness of the pumpkin. Made with such distinctive ingredients the cupcakes are moist inside, bursting with flavour and are complemented with a kick of cinnamon. The cream cheese buttercream just melts in your mouth with its silky smooth taste. This recipe will bake 18 large cupcakes.


120g of plain flour
120g of self raising flour
200g of light brown sugar
3/4 tsp. of baking powder
3/4 tsp. of bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp. of mixed spice
1 tsp. of cinnamon
250g of fresh pumpkin
20g of fresh grated ginger
2 medium eggs
120ml of buttermilk
5 tbsp. of vegetable oil


1. Pre-heat your oven to 155 degrees C and line your cupcake tray with your cases.

2. Cube your pumpkin, boil and when soft mash up with a fork, draining out any excess water. It is important to do this step first so your pumpkin has time to cool. I also add some of the mushy insides of the pumpkin as the flavour is really strong. Don't worry if you get any seeds in either as you can pick these out when mashing.

3. Add all your dry ingredients in one large bowl.

4. Add your wet ingredients in a separate smaller bowl, including your grated fresh ginger.

5. Combine all ingredients together folding in gently.

6. Add your pureed pumpkin and then spoon into your cases filling about 3/4 of the way.

7. Bake for 25 minutes.

8. I like to keep my cream cheese buttercream quite simple. I don’t feel it needs much else, but for a little something extra you could try sprinkling some cinnamon, ginger or a squeeze of lemon juice.

These cupcakes can be eaten as a little treat (my preference) or they can be the perfect dessert to any lunch or evening dinner. I do hope that you have enjoyed reading this and that you'll give my recipe a try.

For more recipes, visit and to find out about ordering cupcakes from Cuppies 'n' Cream, visit You can also follow Natalie on Twitter @CuppiesnCream and on Facebook.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

A Day in the Life of The Beauty Shortlist by Fiona Klonarides

It would be more interesting to say "no two days are the same" at The Beauty Shortlist, but most days, the main theme a lot of us share applies, which is "How do you squeeze sixteen hours worth of work into the limited hours of one day?"

Blogging is a lot more time-consuming than people imagine. The minutes tick by while you fiddle with resizing photos or a back-end glitch and I really respect the bloggers who post daily - that's a big commitment. I travel a lot and work full time as a freelance journalist too, so I've had to become brutal about time management which goes against my personality. Given the chance I could quite easily spend the day Googling recipes for spicy Moroccan-style hummus and five-seed flatbread, watching Eric Lanlard baking his incredible cakes and looking for a run-down house to renovate on a Greek Island, so I had to come up with some strict working-from-home rules. Because I work from home people keep appearing for cups of tea or calling for a catch-up chat when I have deadlines dangling from both ears.

Taming The Email Dragon is the biggest challenge probably for a lot of us; I  learned a few tips from Simon Tyler, author of The Simple Way. Emails devour my time like hyenas, so now, instead of floating along in a sea of emails and reacting to each one that floats in, I try to: a) only check email 2-3 times a day; b) unsubscribe from almost all of the updates/newsletters I thought were a good idea/interesting/essential but which I can live without - they're concentration diluters and time drainers; and c) I make an effort to deal with each email immediately - respond, file, delete, etc.  Despite being a beauty journalist, I get a surprising number of press releases about things like new electrical appliances or Scottish dancing festivals.

I never had a real game plan for The Beauty Shortlist.  I just wanted to offer a beauty edit for consumers with honest reviews. And I love giving newer brands a look in - it's hard to cut through and make your way onto the radar.  Filtering out the great from the good, bad and also-rans in the beauty world. The blog has grown organically but not without a very hard slog and two highlights have been meeting Kate Shapland and Jo Malone, both of whom are exceptional at what they do.

It makes my heart sing when people take a chance on a product or brand The Beauty Shortlist recommended and they Tweet me to say thanks for the recommendation, they've fallen in love with it. Trust and credibility are key.

You have to take your hat off to beauty entrepreneurs these days; new beauty brands seem to be launching like fireworks and it's a very crowded space out there. If you think too much about what lies ahead - how to make your brand stand out, how to nail media coverage, what's the best strategy re. social media channels, what do you spend your budget on, and when, how are you going to last the journey financially (especially if you have no backing and are a one woman or man band?) - it can feel quite daunting. Having said that, passion is a high octane fuel and creativity, originality and integrity are good co-drivers for the road ahead.

For this year's Beauty Shortlist Awards, we tested 142 brands and 408 products across a long list of categories. The Awards are always completely exhausting but I love every minute. You get a real eagle-eye view of the current beauty market, where brands go right, where they go wrong.

This year's winners included top aromatherapist Michelle Roques-O'Neil's new calming, energising bath and body brand Therapie,, one of my all time desert island brands. I also like Abahna London a lot,, they're launching their fifth signature blend this month and I've heard their White Grapefruit & May Chang Bath Foam was spotted in a bathroom at Buckingham Palace.

Ila Spa's skincare,, is also out of this world. I'm an Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo addict but my signature scent is Pomelo, the first fragrance launched by Jo Malone's new brand Jo Loves,, a couple of years ago. Jo has somehow bottled the bliss of a summer holiday in the Med and it's the most commented on fragrance I've ever worn - it's extraordinary how many women (and men!) love it.

As far as recommending skincare brands, I think Weleda, Dr Hauschka, Elemis, Balance Me and Neal's Yard Remedies are all doing things right - the last three are model examples of "Best of British Beauty". And one of the most exciting newcomers in a long time is 001 Skincare,, which is definitely one to watch.  It's a beauty-full world and I feel really lucky to be part of it.

Fiona Klonarides is a freelance beauty, health and travel journalist; she founded her award-winning blog The Beauty Shortlist in 2009. Follow Fiona on Twitter @BeautyShortlist and Facebook. The Beauty Shortlist featured in the Top 10 Beauty Blogs (No. 2, UK) - Cision/Social Media Ranking, February 2013 and Fionas as Top 25 Personalities, Natural Beauty Yearbook 2013.