The basic cupcake recipe is an easy sponge mixture of butter, sugar, eggs and flour using the best ingredients you can afford.
Makes 12 standard cupcakes/24 mini cupcakes
Required 12 standard cupcake cases/24 mini cupcake cases
Bun tin or baking tray
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.
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.
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.
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 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.