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Classic vanilla cupcakes

July 29, 2011

Sometimes, simple is best. Sometimes, having a really big cupcake case is also best. I’m not sure which of the two was most important for last week’s cupcakes, but they were sold at work at rapid speed. Having trialled several different types of cakes I settled skeptically on muffin cases (the Supercook ones most supermarkets have), skeptically because, well, they’re not muffins are they? Muffins are enormous. However, it seems to be that cupcakes can erm, rise to the occasion, and so even with larger cases I got nicely domed cupcakes for the same amount of mixture, The Customers were happy as they were getting more cakelove for their money, and our Cycle Charity continued to benefit. Happy cake days all round, really.

That reminds me. If you’d like to help sponsor us on our cycle ride, which is from London to Paris over three days and raising money for Genesis Research Trust, click here! IRDB Just Giving

This recipe comes from the Hummingbird Bakery’s second book, “Cake Days”. They have quite a distinctive method of cupcake making. I don’t particularly like it as it’s messy (you’ll see below), but the taste is apparently worth it. I had no complaints about their buttercream icing though, the slightly lighter consistency was much easier than I’ve found before to spread onto the cakes. I adapted the recipe to include either a light chocolate or vanilla icing, depending on what tickles your fancy. I found half the amount of icing they suggest did 12 cupcakes, so I’ve adjusted the recipe for 16.


Makes 16

  • 3 oz margarine
  • 10 oz caster sugar
  • 8.5 oz plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 350 g icing sugar
  • 100 g butter
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • 1-2 tbsp cocoa (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence.
So, the reason I dislike this recipe is very simple; it’s messy. Why it ever seemed to be a good idea to have to beat dry ingredients and then add the wet (causing flour/mix to spray everywhere) is beyond me.
Anyways. Preheat the oven to 190 oC. In a bowl beat together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt, until the mixture is sandy (and has probably coated your kitchen). In a jug, mix together the milk, eggs, vanilla by hand, then slowly pour into the flour mixture in 2 additions. Scrape down the bowl to make sure everything is mixed. Beat until everything is smooth; don’t overmix. Spoon the batter into each case. I think it’s meant to be 50 mL per muffin case. Don’t overfill (did you notice how much baking powder went into the recipe? They RISE). Bake for 20 min, until they’re golden and springy.


To make the icing, beat together the icing sugar and butter (try not to wear black), then adding in the vanilla and milk in 2 additions – gauge by the consistency whether you need all of the milk on the second go. You want something that is easy to work with but not sloppy, or too watery. Mix well until smooth and light. If desired, halve the mixture and sift over some cocoa, about 1-2 tbsp. When the cupcakes are cool, use a palette knife to smooth the icing over the top. Use the tip of the palette knife to create a small indentation in the centre of each cupcake. I think the main purpose of this is to provide a big enough well to fill with sprinkles / choc chips. You can never have too many sprinkles, fact. Trust me, I’m a scientist.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenny permalink
    July 29, 2011 7:53 pm

    They were great Michelle! Everything I make is an experiment too (knitting, baking, science…) but as you say the cakes can be eaten, even if not quite right. Apart from the total disaster that was the carrot cake I tried to make last weekend – too much carrot, not enough flour, went in the bin!


    • July 29, 2011 10:33 pm

      Oh no! That’s a shame. I always stick to Delia’s carrot cake recipe, I’m a bit scared to deviate from that 😉 Cooking experiments are the best, shame scientific ones aren’t so fun all the time!


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