Baking for Scotland: Irn Bru Cupcakes

Last month I went to Scotland for the third time in the past year. Yes, I love it. This trip was to Up Helly Aa, the annual Viking fire festival in the Shetland Islands. I went with the wild and sexy Haggis Adventures (which you can read all about on my travel blog) and had an incredible time. It looked sort of like this:

You really need to go to this.

You really need to go to this.

Before and after hanging with Vikings I had a little time in Edinburgh, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places in the world. It’s just so walkable and gorgeous and full of friendly, lovely, creative people and yummy flavors. I devoured the sticky toffee pudding and also dabbled in Jaffa cakes, shortbread, and even a fried Mars Bar, which I don’t really recommend. Too chewy:

I liked the melty-ness, but not the blah coating. If they could make it crunchy, it would be perfect.

I liked the melty-ness, but not the blah coating. If they could make it crunchy, it would be perfect.

I brought back many treats for my coworkers, but the one I got creative with was Irn Bru. It’s the neon orange soda that Scottish people drink when they aren’t drinking whiskey, because clearly those are their only two possible options.

Supposedly, Scotland is one of two countries in the world where the local soda is more popular than Coca-Cola (Peru being the other with Inca Kola), so I figured someone must have tried baking with it already.

Irn Bru: Strong, Scottish and proud!

Irn Bru: Strong, Scottish and proud!

Sure enough, I found many recipes online for made-from-scratch Irn Bru cupcakes, but they got mixed reviews from people who tried them. So next I searched for recipes made with any kind of soda, and over and over again I found people who said that all you need is a box mix and 12 oz. of soda and you’re good to go.

Ye cannae argue with that.

Because Irn Bru has a really sugary bubblegum flavor, at least in my opinion, I didn’t want to use a base that had a strong flavor of its own, so I started with a box of plain white cake mix. Easy. Then I poured in the 12 oz. of Irn Bru and watched it fizz and bubble.

Pop pop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is...

Pop pop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is…

Some recipes suggested adding one egg white for fluffiness, so I went ahead and threw that in, and then I also added a few drops of orange food color to try and make them look more Irn Bru-y. Unfortunately, I’m a food color wimp and must not have added quite enough, because they came out nice and fluffy, but sort of pinkish.

Almost orange. Mostly pink.

Almost orange. Mostly pink.

But whatever. I’m not going to let insufficient food coloring stop me now! I’m just going to put lots of frosting on it! Regular buttercream does the trick. Nothing fancy.

And then, to show my DSL (that’s Haggis Adventures talk for Deep Scottish Love), I printed out a sheet of little Scottish flags, because everything is adorable in miniature:


And then I cut them out like so:


And then I taped them on to toothpicks, like I did with my Joshua Jackson cupcake toppers. Remember those? So cute.


And ta da! Super Scottish Irn Bru cupcakes. Perfect for your next Scottish birthday, holiday, Proclaimers listening party, “Trainspotting” viewing or weekend where you feel like hanging around the hoose in a kilt.


Lastly, you’ll probably be wondering, “But do they really taste like Irn Bru?” And the answer to that is, well, not so much. They are very sweet and yummy, but the bubblegum flavor seems to have gotten baked out. I saw a recipe that called for boiling the Irn Bru down to a syrup, and that might give you a stronger flavor, but I think these are darn tasty and fun as-is. And easy too.

I still had two more bottles of the Bru so I set those out with some little cups so people would try it out. Most people found it interesting, but not compelling enough to give up their Coke for it.

It’s all for nothing if you don’t have freedom,

Categories: Cupcakes | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Baking for Scotland: Irn Bru Cupcakes

  1. I can almost hear your Scottish accent coming across the internet! Tried Irn Bru in Ireland and yeah, it’s sweet! Interesting creation with the cupcakes. I briefly checked out your travel blog, too. I’ll have to go back and spend more time on there. Looks cool.

    • Thanks, Katya! I wish I’d brought some Inca Kola back from Peru to try baking with. It’s fun to play with new ingredients.

  2. Trish

    Do you have a template for the adorable flags??

  3. Pingback: Baking for Harry Potter’s Birthday: Butterbeer Cupcakes | Baking for the Office

  4. Pingback: Baking for Burns Night: Millionaire’s Shortbread | Baking for the Office

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