6th July 2009


By Lauren Photography by Adam

I am such a huge cupcake fan – something about the shape, the decoration, the miniature-ness of them is just so appealing. This basic cupcake batter not only makes great vanilla cakes, but is also a great base that can be made into lots of different treats.By adding a tablespoon or two of cocoa when sifting in flour and baking powder, you can make little chocolate cakes, and adding jam to the bottom of the tin makes delicious, moist upside-down cakes. They can be dressed up with piped butter-cream icing, or drizzled with melted chocolate to form a crisp choc-top.


Makes 30 small or 12 large cupcakes
  • Cupcakes
  • 125g butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Buttercream icing
  • 150g butter, room temperature
  • 3-1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • Few drops red food colouring


  • Cupcakes
  • The easiest way to make these is in a food processor. Be mindful not to over mix - the gluten will become overworked and stringy which will make for some very stodgy cakes. Once you add the flour, pulse until just combined.
  • Preheat oven to 180ºC
  • 1. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla.
  • 2. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each one.
  • 3. Sift in flour, add milk and process for a few seconds until combined.
  • 4. Divide the batter evenly across 30 small or 12 large patty cases.
  • 5. Bake for around 10 – 15 minutes (time will vary on size of cupcakes) until light golden. Be careful not to overcook or they will dry out.
  • 6. Cool on wire rack, then pipe with butter cream icing.
  • Buttercream icing
  • 1. Beat butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.
  • 2. Add vanilla and cream to achieve light and fluffy consistency. If it is a little thick, add water drop by drop.
  • *For chocolate butter-cream icing, add 1 tbsp cocoa when sifting icing sugar.
  • Once made, divide the butter-cream icing in half. Add a few drops of red food colouring to one half, leaving the remaining half white. Decorate alternate cupcakes pink and white.
  • Little upside down jam cakes
  • 1. Make cupcake batter as above, stopping at step 4.
  • 2. Grease two six-piece friand tins (if you have them – if not muffin trays also work, but the tapered shape makes them harder to wrap afterwards).
  • 3. Place a tablespoon or two of jam in the base of each form. I used apricot jam but you really can use anything – something a little tart is a nice contrast to the sweet, buttery-ness of the cupcakes. Top with cupcake batter to 3/4 full.
  • 4. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes – until golden.
  • 5. Remove from oven and allow the cakes to cool a little in the tins, before taking out and cooling on wire rack.
  • 6. When cool enough to handle, wrap each cake in a piece of baking paper and tie with string.


  1. Anonymous

    I made both the vanilla cupcakes and the upside down jam cakes and they were delicious – although mine didn’t look quite so pretty! The tip about the friand tin for wrapping the jam cakes was great, I might have come unstuck using a normal tin. I’ve subsequently made the jam cakes as one large size cake and served hot with whipped cream for dessert – fabulous!

  2. FJH

    I saw this recipe last week and was going to try it at the weekend. However, visiting friends and children took over. I was wondering whether this mixture would be good for mini cupcakes? My daughter got a mini cupcake on a children’s platter on Saturday and I thought it would be a really good idea for at home.

  3. Lauren

    Hi FJH,
    This recipe would definitely work for mini cupcakes, just adjust the cook time accordingly. I would bake for 5-6 minutes and then check with a toothpick—if it comes out clean they are ready. Nothing is worse than dry, over cooked cake!
    Let me know how they go.

  4. These look insanely good! Great photography. Sounds delicious too. What’s not to love about a cupcake?

  5. What a beautiful picture! I saw you on tastespotting and just had to click. I too am a huge cupcake fan and a basic recipe is always helpful. I love the idea of adding jam to the bottom, I had never thought of that before. Thank you!

  6. What gorgeous cupcakes! I love cupcakes as well… probably my favorite at home dessert to make!

  7. What a great idea F&P to have a food Blog, it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy about your products looking at those cake & recipes! Lovely photography and presentation.

  8. What beautiful pink and white cupcakes! I’m a huge fan of the little cakeys too

  9. Morgan

    I made these cupcakes AND their icing today, and after several previous failed attempts to have beautiful fluffy icing for piping your recipe has finally hit the nail on the head! Thank you! These are GORGEOUS

  10. Lauren

    Thanks for your lovely comments everyone – Morgan I’m glad they were a success for you, I have made these so many times now and they always prove to be a hit! Happy baking everyone :)

  11. I’ve been looking at these beautiful photos for months and finally made these cupcakes! I failed at the icing, which will probably take practice like Morgan (but luckily had store-bought icing in the fridge). But the cupcakes tasted amazing and I put in a slice of strawberry in the center of each and everyone loved them.

  12. kid

    They’re so beautiful.

  13. Katherine

    I would adamantly NOT recommend using a food processor: I think it entirely ruined this recipe for me! Very strange, dense texture… though the taste was not great either… ? :S

  14. Lauren

    What a shame Katherine! I wonder if you over-mixed them if they had a very dense texture? I have made these many times with great success. Using a food processor makes this recipe very quick and easy, but you do have to be mindful not to over-process the flour or the gluten will become over worked, adversely affecting the texture of the cakes. I hope you have more success next time.

  15. Glenda Thies

    Your cupcakes came out gorgeous. i wanted to know what tip did you used to design the pink mini ones… Thanks. im trying to figure out my tips and designs that are created and i find my self going nuts trying to figure it out. lol

  16. Lauren

    Hi Glenda,

    I’m glad the cupcakes were a success! For the pink mini cupcakes, I used a round tip – 1.5cm (~1/2”) in diameter. Happy decorating! – Lauren.

  17. hellokitty

    I made once and i lllooovveedd them, but then i tried it a second time and didnt turn out so great, they just spread all over the muffin tray and it was all runny, then i tried a 3rd time and the same thing happend! what have i done wrong?!

  18. Lauren

    Hi there ‘hellokitty’ – Can you think of anything you did differently from the first time you made the cupcakes?
    If the mixture is very runny then perhaps your butter was too soft? To cream butter and sugar, the butter should be at room temperature.
    You mention they spread all over the muffin tray – perhaps there was a little too much batter in each mould? Did you use the same muffin tray each time? They should be ¾ full so the cakes have room to rise as they bake.
    Do let us know how you get on!

  19. Aileen

    hi there, will it still be great if i use hand mixer instead of food processor?

  20. Lauren

    Hi Aileen, absolutely – just be sure to cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, and once you have added the milk and flour, mix until just combined.
    Happy Baking!

  21. Georgie

    Wow what lovely pictures I will be making these today thank you for all the feed back on the recipe :-)

  22. Lauren

    Thanks Georgie, Adam does a fantastic job with the photography – I hope you enjoy the cupcakes :)

  23. KitchenGeisha

    Hi Lauren!

    I’ve been looking for a recipe for vanilla frosting that pipes like yours seems to do on the white and pink cupcakes at the top (lovely photos, btw!). I’ve tried similar recipes to yours, but they have always been firmer than I would like – I’m looking for a frosting that’s light and creamy, similar in texture to whipped cream. I can’t use straight whipped cream as they need to travel to my childrens’ school for birthday treats. Does this pipe easily? I’m a bit at my wits’ end. :) Thanks so much!

  24. Lauren

    Hi KitchenGeisha,

    Good Question! I have had good results piping this recipe, the thing to remember is that the longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier it will be. If you find the frosting is too firm, allow it to soften at room temperature. If it gets too soft with the heat from your hands while piping, pop the piping bag into the fridge for a few minutes to firm up. Happy Baking! :) Lauren

  25. KitchenGeisha

    Hi Lauren! Thanks for the response! I made it, and while it turned out really well, I should have let it beat a little longer, it was a bit too stiff. I’m making it again today – a chocolate version, again for school – and this time I’ll let it beat a bit longer. This has become my favourite frosting recipe!

    Thanks again!

  26. ankita

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….lukng 2 preeti n vry yummyyy:)

  27. Kaye

    You didn’t use baking powder? Can i replace self raising flour to all purpose flour?

  28. Lauren

    Hi Kaye,
    Self raising flour contains baking powder at a ratio of roughly 1.5tsp to 1 cup (depends on brand). So yes, you can use plain flour, but you will need to sieve it first with baking powder before adding to the cake batter. For the 1 ½ cups self raising flour used in this recipe use 1 ½ cups plain flour with 2 ¼ tsp baking powder.
    Happy Baking

  29. claudia

    I made the batter and it wasn’t liquidy, we had to use spoons to put the batter in the cupcake holders. Was that supposed to happen? Also why isn’t baking powder included in the ingredients?

  30. Lauren

    Hi Claudia,
    Yes this is quite a think batter, I spoon it into my patty cases rather than pouring. I use self-raising flour which already contains baking powder at a ratio of roughly 1.5tsp to 1 cup (depends on brand).
    You can use plain flour, but you will need to sieve it first with baking powder before adding to the cake batter. For the 1 ½ cups self raising flour used in this recipe use 1 ½ cups plain flour with 2 ¼ tsp baking powder.

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