Cupcakes are ideal for children's parties or adult events where you want to add a touch of colour to the dessert table. Despite their elaborate appearance they are far easier to make than it seems - the key is to start with a simple mixture of butter, sugar, eggs, flour and milk, and add other ingredients to achieve the desired flavour.
Preparation is key to everything in life and cupcakes are no exception. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and grease a baking tin with butter to prevent the cupcake mixture from sticking to it.
Mix the ingredients
Mix 250g of unsalted butter, 250g of sugar and 4 eggs with an electric whisk in a bowl, ensuring you add one egg at a time. Alternatively you can use a food processor to mix the ingredients together. Once they are mixed, add 1 tsp of vanilla essence and stir. If you want to do something a little different from the standard cupcake, mix in 600g of cream cheese and 250g of crushed biscuits to make cheese cupcakes. You can in fact use any cake recipe, such as carrot cake, fruit cake, etc.
Add flour and milk
Add 185g of self-raising flour, or if using normal flour, add half a tsp of baking powder. Fold the flour into the cupcake mixture while slowly adding 185 ml of milk. Stir continuously till there are no lumps.
Pour the mixture into the baking tin, making sure it is equally divided between the cake compartments. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes. It's best to remove them from the tin for them to cool, this way you can also check they are cooked through.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the icing. A simple recipe is to mix a small amount of water with icing sugar till you have a paste. You can also make a creamy version by mixing sour cream with chocolate or vanilla, or by adding lemon zest and/or food colourings. Spread the icing over the tops of the cupcakes.
Decorate the cupcakes
Top the finished cupcakes with fruit, smarties, chocolate rice, chocolate chips, or other confectionery. Try using toppings that will complement the cupcakes themselves, for instance sharp fruits like raspberries and cranberries will go well with rich, creamy flavours like cheesecake, and chocolate pairs well with vanilla and nuts.