• buttermilk sponge ingredients:
  • 175 g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk (beaten)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 125 ml buttermilk
  • meringue butter cream ingredients:
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 250 g unsalted butter (softened and chopped)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • christmas tree ingredients:
  • 1 quantity of buttermilk sponge
  • 1 quantity of meringue buttercream
  • green food colouring paste
  • edible green glitter
  • coloured sugar balls
  • gold and silver sugar stars


  • You will need: 1-2 muffin tins, lined with 12 brown paper cupcake cases Large piping bag, fitted with a medium star-shaped nozzle
  • Buttermilk sponge method:
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the side of the mixing bowl from time to time. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and add the mixture in alternate batches with the buttermilk. Mix until smooth, then turn to the relevant recipe.
  • Meringue butter cream method:
  • Put the sugar and egg whites in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until it reaches at least 60°C (140°F) on a sugar thermometer. Pour into the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or use an electric whisk and mixing bowl). Beat until the mixture has doubled in volume, cooled and will stand stiff, glossy peaks – this will take about 3 minutes. Gradually add the butter to the cooled meringue mix, beating constantly, until the frosting is smooth. Fold in the vanilla and use immediately.
  • Christmas Trees method:
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
  • Divide the buttermilk sponge between the cupcake cases, filling them two-thirds full.
  • Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden, well risen and a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Put three quarters of the meringue buttercream in a bowl and tint with green using the food colouring paste. Leave the rest untinted and spread some of this over the top of each cold cupcake.
  • Fill the piping bag with the green frosting and, working from the centre, pipe pointed branch shaped towards the edges of the cupcake. Keep doing this, turning the cupcake as you go, until you have the bottom of a tree. Repeat with the next layer up, making the branched shorter. Carry on with more layers, making the braches ever shorter as you get to the top of the tree.
  • Dust with green glitter and decorate with coloured sugar balls. Top with a gold or silver star.


Taken from Christmas Cupcakes by Annie Rigg published by Ryland Peters & Small