Rudolph, The Red Nose in the Flavours of Christmas: Walnut-Orange-Cinnamon Cupcake

“He always knew he was a little different, but he let his light shine regardless of what the others said. be more Rudolph.”

When did Rudolph become a part of the holiday tradition?


The names of Santa’s team of eight flying reindeer were established in the poem A Visit From St. Nicholas, published in 1823, but it was in 1939 that the character of Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all”, was first introduced. For several years during the first part of the 20th century, the department store Montgomery Ward, based in Chicago, had hired outside firms to create Christmas books as promotional items. The coloring books were given away to children as holiday gifts, and the task was once assigned to 34-year-old Robert L. May, a Montgomery Ward copywriter.


A graduate of Dartmouth College, May had difficulties in his life and used that experience, as well as inspiration from The Ugly Duckling story, to create the adventure of a misfit reindeer with a glowing red nose. He began writing the story in rhyming verse, using his young daughter Barbara as a sounding board. Though his daughter loved the tale, his employers hesitated when he presented the idea to them, worrying that red noses were too often associated with the overindulgence of alcohol. During the 1939 Christmas season, 2.4 million copies of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer were distributed. In 1947 May approached and convinced Sewell Avery, Montgomery Ward’s corporate president, to turn the copyright over to him, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was released commercially in book form.


For the cupcakes
130 g plain flour
50 g ground walnut (toasted taste better)
140 g sugar
1 tsp baking power
140 g butter
3 eggs
zest of two oranges
2 tbsp walnut, cut into small pieces
2 tbsp candied peel
For the cinnamon and orange buttercream
125 g unsalted butter, softened
400 g icing sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon powder
2-3 tbsp orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
To decorate
Sugarpaste: red, black, white, brown
Mini pretzels


Preparation method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Mix the flour, sugar, walnut and baking powder together until combined. Stir the rest of the ingredients into the flour mixture until just combined. Mix in walnut pieces and candied peel carefully. Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
To make the cinnamon and orange buttercream, beat the butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Carefully stir in the icing sugar and continue to beat for five minutes. Beat in the cinnamon and orange zest. Decorate the cupcakes with the buttercream. Decorate the cupcakes with sugarpaste and mini pretzels.


“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”  Charles m. Schulz 

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