Tuesday, 11 October 2016


If you follow me on Instagram you will already know how excited I am about these little beauties:
They were entered into a baking competition yesterday and they WON! You cannot imagine how joyful I was when I got a call from my husband in the afternoon telling me my cupcakes have won 1st place in the annual bake competition
in his office. Frankly that took me by surprise - I had no idea they were going to be judged. A lot of his colleagues thought they were shop bought. Apparently my icing skills are improving (or all these people need glasses!) All 12 of these delicious cakes were sold out first and I kept receiving messages throughout the day from his colleagues telling me how great they tasted.

I am entirely honest here - I have always struggled to bake cupcakes. They always, always, always turn out dry. Over the weekend my mother in law had an event in her community garden and she asked me to make some date crunchies. She is a vegetarian and some of the guests were vegan so instead of butter I used vegan margarine in the recipe. The crunchies were not the best - somewhat heavy from the margarine and they needed more filling. Anyhow, trying out margarine in a recipe for the first time EVER made me think how using it should keep little cakes moist.
I only had about 20 minutes of spare time so googling 'cupcake with margarine recipes' was the only thing I could do. Lucky for me the first recipe I opened suggested just that - substitute butter with margarine to have a fluffy and moist cupcake! This was going to work. I was also lucky enough that hubby does not really pay attention to what I normally have in the fridge. On a recent shopping trip he bought a big tub of margarine. 'For sandwiches', he said. I use butter. PERIOD. Two weeks later this tub is pretty much untouched so this looked like a great opportunity to shift at least some of it.

The recipe: (makes 12 muffin sized cupcakes)

110 gr margarine, straight from the fridge is fine
200gr caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla essence (it seems like a lot but it is worth it!)
2 eggs
210 gr plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
120ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)

Buttercream icing:
200gr softened butter (the softer the better)
260 gr icing sugar, sifted
1tbsp vanilla essence
some milk if needed


Preheat the oven to 180C. Line your tray with muffin cases.
Beat margarine with caster sugar with a mixer until really pale in colour and has at least doubled in volume, around 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for at least another 2-3 minutes.
Sift the flour and baking powder and add to the batter. Mix until well incorporated but try not to overmix it.
Fill your paper cases  - mine were about 3/4 full.

Pop in the hot oven and bake for 22 minutes. Please do not open the oven door for the first 15 minutes, they will deflate and look sad. Check if they are ready with a toothpick (or similar) - it needs to come out completely dry.
Take out of the oven and remove the cupcakes from the tin straight away. This is another tip I learned from this recipe: you must take out the muffins out of the tin right away otherwise they go soggy. I have always wondered why this happens. Now I know how to prevent it. Yes, they were hot. Yes, they burned my fingers just a bit. But the pain was worth it! They won the competition, didn't they?!

For the icing:

Beat the butter with half of the icing sugar for about 3-5 minutes. The more the better I say. Add the rest of the sugar and beat for another 4-6 minutes. It does seem like a very long time. It is in fact a long time. During that time I made a cup of tea and loaded the dishwasher. Be creative! Of course you can only do other things if you have a free standing mixer. Totally worth having one I say. Add the vanilla essence. At this point check the consistency. Mine was perfect without adding any milk. If yours is too stiff, add a spoonful of milk at a time. If it looks too runny, add some more icing sugar.
Ice your cupcakes once they have cooled down.

You can add food colouring too.
Wilton Golden Yellow
Sugarflair Pink
PME Regal Purple/Violet
I used 1M decorating tip by Wilton and small Tala icing bags.

These little cuties are delicious. Airy and light, moist with the best crumb ever they are great on their own too. Let your imagination run wild - you can spoon the icing over them, or add some hundreds and thousands. My kids were upset they didn't get to try them so I promised them to make another batch this weekend. It only takes about 20 minutes to make them and they do not require particular skills. Give them a go, you will not be disappointed.

*I found this recipe here. The tips and advice on that website are amazing so be sure to check them out. The method for buttercream belongs to a friend of mine which kindly shared it with me last year. I have been using it ever since and it works every single time.


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