Easy Peasy Cupcakes

The basic cupcake recipe is an easy sponge mixture of butter, sugar, eggs and flour using the best ingredients you can afford.

Finished cupcakes

Makes 12 standard cupcakes/24 mini cupcakes
Required 12 standard cupcake cases/24 mini cupcake cases
Bun tin or baking tray
Electric whisk
Large bowls

Cupcake ingredients

125g/4oz unsalted butter, softened
125g/4oz caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
125g/4oz self raising flour, sifted
2 tbsp milk (whole milk tastes best)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Buttercream Icing ingredients

75g/3oz unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g/8oz icing sugar, sifted into 2 bowls, half in each
Food colouring is optional
Fresh raspberries – for decoration

To make the cupcakes

In a large bowl, whisk the softened butter and caster sugar together until they reach a light and fluffy texture.
Add the beaten eggs in bit by bit, in small quantities, along with a spoonful of the measured flour. This will stop any curdling of the mixture after adding the eggs.
Add the remaining flour, milk and vanilla extract into the mixture and fold together using a large metal spoon.
Cupcake batterBatter mixture
It may be helpful to weigh your bowl before hand so you know how much cupcake mixture you have made so you can measure it equally into each cupcake case. Use two spoons to place the mixture into the cupcake cases. Have these prepared and ready to go in your cake tin or on your baking sheet. As you can see from my first attempt – my equally measured cupcakes didn’t give me 12!
The oven must be preheated to 190°C/170°C FAN/375°F/gas mark 5.
Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes until well risen and golden. Resist the temptation to open your oven before the minimum time as the cupcakes may collapse! If you’re unsure if they are done, poke them with a skewer and if the skewer comes out clean, it’s baked.
Remove and cool for 5 minutes on the baking tray and then transfer to a wire tray to cool completely.
If you are using silicone cupcake cases, you may wish to transfer them to paper cases after the initial 5 minutes of cooling so they are removed easily.
 Cupcakes from oven

To make the icing

You can make this while the cupcakes are baking.  In a large bowl, whisk the butter until completely softened, then add the milk and vanilla extract.
 Whisked butter
Whisk briefly, then add the first half of the sifted icing sugar. Whisk for several minutes until well combined. Then add the second half of the sifted icing sugar and continue to whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy. The longer you whisk the mixture, the smoother the results – you should be aiming for a light and delicate finish.
At this point, add any food colouring drop by drop until you get the desired colour.
Icing mixture

Icing the cupcakes

Pick the piping nozzle with the design you want, most cupcakes are done with a star nozzle, and insert into the piping bag with the narrow end first. Spoon the icing into the piping bag, folding the top of the bag over to catch any spilt icing.

I use plastic piping bags and do not snip the end of the bag until all the icing mixture is in and pushed down to the bottom, with the top of the bag twisted. This stops any icing coming out before you are absolutely ready and the bag doesn’t have any air pockets in the mixture.

Decorate your cupcakes in a circular motion, starting from the outside of the cake to the middle and finish the last pipe with a flourish for decoration. Apply any decorative raspberries now before the icing sets, and these can cover any small mistakes you make with the piping.

 Icing techniqueFinished cupcakesPink colouring used
Suzy xx
This recipe has been adapted from my subscription to Baked & Delicious magazine.

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Estée Lauder brought me back to life!

My daughter has just turned one and now I’m a working mother, life is so busy. I have barely any time to put my face on but I try to make the effort, every day, to put on some make up, even if I only have five minutes to do it!

During the nine months of my Maternity Leave, I wore far less make up than I used to but I’m proud of myself for rarely leaving the house without a bit of slap on! Some people are confident without make up but I’m not one of them – mascara and a touch of lippy at the very least makes me feel better.

I used to always wear Benefit’s BADgal liner, buying the same product for years. It used to go on beautifully, looking like liquid liner and staying put almost as long but going on easily, like a pencil. I loved it. For some reason, all of a sudden, it didn’t work the same. It was smudgy and would leave me looking like I’d had a really rough day.

I had similar issues with my eye shadow – my usual colour seemed to reflect the bags under the eyes making me look worse! In the end, I would only wear mascara on my eyes and I was so desperate to look fresh and awake, I used FOUR different mascaras at a time!! It didn’t work.

I was left feeling like I’d lost my ability to put my make up on and I felt like I wasn’t myself anymore. It is silly but you experience such a physical change through pregnancy and the months afterwards, it can have a huge impact on how you feel about yourself.

I took a day off work and headed to Selfridges. I’d heard good things about the Estée Lauder Double Wear range and went to speak to Erin. She was amazing. It was a Tuesday morning so it was nice and quiet and so she could offer me a good half an hour or so. She listened to what I had to say about how I was feeling and sat me down in the chair. I’m not ashamed to say she gave me a little emotional support as well as practical advice!

First, she advised me about foundation. Double Wear is designed to last but because I wanted decent coverage without looking like I’ve got loads of make up on, Erin advised me to go for the Double Wear Light range of foundation (RRP £29.50). It goes on beautifully and I would describe it as medium coverage. It does sit looking quite wet for a short time but be patient as it dries ‘sheer-medium’.

Next she introduced me to Double Wear Stay-in-Place Gel Eyeliner (RRP £19). I was advised to try ‘Stay Coffee’ (brown), rather than ‘Stay Onyx’ (black), to create a more natural look.

It is a little pot of gel eyeliner with a tiny little brush. It’s amazing!! It goes on beautifully and you can achieve a ‘flick’ with ease. After an early start getting a toddler ready and off to nursery, followed by a full and busy day at work, my eyeliner was still on at bedtime, looking as good as when I put it on that morning. Looking in the mirror and seeing my trademark eyeliner back on my face was such a relief!! The only improvement would be to have a little case to put the brush in so it doesn’t collect dust but giving it a wipe before use seems to be sorting that out.

This is my happy little face after my makeover – forgive the quality of the photograph!


Erin heard about my overuse of multiple mascaras and gave me a tester of Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting Mascara (RRP £21). Ive been using it ever since and not only has the tester still not run out, I am back to using just one mascara – as normal people do!!

After feeling like I looked old, tired and haggard, it’s such a relief to look at my face and to see the old me again, without having spent a fortune. Thank you Estée Lauder.

Clare xx