Easy and pretty vanilla cupcakes

I was asked for a box of cupcakes which were going to be for a birthday, the design was left to me with the spec simple but pretty. Now then, I have a tendency to get a bit freaked out when it’s left totally up to me incase by idea of pretty isn’t someone else’s so I dug out some old photos and sent them over for her to choose a style and colour scheme … Sorted. Victoria sponge cakes with purple and cream icing and butterflies.



    Victoria sponge cupcakes with vanilla buttercream

Well here they are, what do you reckon? Pretty? I think they’re gorgeous and apparently they tasted fabulous which is always the most important bit. They may look tricky but I promise they’re super simple and you can create them too, here’s how:

I always make my sugar paste decorations first so they have time to set (sometimes a few days in advance) but a few hours should be sufficient, for these cupcakes I used a PME butterfly plunger cutter. First you need to colour your sugar paste to whichever colour you’d like and then add some Tylo powder, you can get this or a similar alternative in any cake shop or online, to help firm up the icing to make a modelling paste consistency. Dust some cornflour on your work surface and roll out the fondant to a few mm thick and stamp out your butterflies placing them onto a foam former or an egg box is pretty good too and much cheaper!

While they’re drying it’s time to get messy, this recipe will make 12 cupcakes so you need a 12 hole tray. Turn your oven on to 165℃ fan assisted or 180℃ if not and gather your ingredients, you will need:

  • 125g Caster sugar
  • 125g Self raising flour (sieved)
  • 250g Unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla essence
  • 250g Icing sugar (Aldi’s is the best, avoid Tate & Lyle they changed the recipe and now it comes out really grainy… gross!)

Put the sugar and half the butter into a bowl and beat until really pale, I use my stand mixer and leave running for around 5 minutes until the mix has almost lost all its yellowness. Now add the flour, baking powder, eggs and vanilla essence and beat again until it’s all combined using a spatula half way to ensure all the sides have been scraped into the mix. Your mix needs to be soft enough to drop off a spoon, if it’s not add a dash of milk until it is.

Once you’re sure it’s all combined, line your cupcake tray with cases (I always use Culpitt as they have tonnes of choice and are great quality) and split your mixture between the 12 cases. Don’t worry if they’re just big blobs they don’t need to be spread around as it will happen as they cook.

Now put your timer on for 20 minutes, grab a cup of tea and relax! ….. When times up insert a skewer into a cake and ensure it comes out clean, this way you can be sure they’re cooked to perfection. Transfer all to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Getting messy round two … Put your remaining butter into a mixing bowl and add the icing sugar, I tend to do it half at a time as Dad gets a bit upset when I create clouds of dusty fun in the kitchen! Once it’s combined beat until it is as pale as you can get it, add a splash of vanilla essence if you like and milk if it’s too thick. Now split the mix evenly into two bowls and add your choice of colours using a spatula to mix, I always use sugar flair colours as I find them the best, only add a teeny bit at a time until you get the colour you want. Put the coloured buttercream into two separate piping bags leaving the tips unopened at this stage. In a third piping bag snip off the end and insert your nozzle, for the rose effect in my picture it’s best to use a 2D Wilton piping tip. Now you need to cut the ends off the two bags of buttercream, ensure you cut the same amount off each, and place them side by side into the third bag. Twist the bags closed and squeeze the icing out until you have both colours showing.

When the cakes are cool it’s time to get decorating! Swirling from the inside out creates the rose effect so start in the middle and pipe a splodge, continue to squeeze with the same pressure and slowly spiral out surrounding your centre blob until the whole cake is covered. To finish off neatly, hold the bag steady, squeeze a blob and pull away. Do this to 6 cakes, then turn your bag around so the second colour is dominant and complete the other 6. While the icing is still soft add your butterflies or chosen decorations and hey presto you’re all done!

Keep them cool until you’re ready to devour them! Enjoy xx


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