Photographer: Adam
Makes 30 small or 12 large cupcakes

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.


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


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.