Cupcaking: An extreme sport

Pièce de résistance

Vanilla Cupcakes w/ Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

Now, I am a big fan of sites like The Cupcake Project (which although existing since 2006 I only found this morning and am subsequently a fan of), but for me there is something lacking in cupcake recipes in general. I needed one that matched the ingredients I just so happened to have in the cupboard. Under no circumstances did I want to shop today. So after much googling I had uncovered enough information about the sport of cupcaking to give creating my own recipe a go.

The thing that really intimidated me about using the inter-nest as a cupcake resource is that cupcakes are one of those topics everyone has an opinion on. It’s almost cult like and should you choose to worship at the shrine of cupcakes you have my deepest sympathy and respect.

Nevertheless, I have constructed a cupcake. I like it. It suits my purposes. It might not be for you. But boy-oh-boy that means more for me. I enlisted the help of my flatmate Denis and we dove in to the sugary seas of cupcakery to test it. Hilarity ensued.

My requirements: low fat, free range ingredients that are sensitive to a slight lactose intolerance.

Makes 12

You will need:

  • 1 cup of self-raising flour (sifted)
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 100 grams (ish) of margarine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp low fat milk
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or similar)


  • 100 grams of extra light cream cheese
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups of icing sugar to thicken as needed
  • Lemon zest for decoration

The Cupcakes:

Preheat your fan oven to 180° C and put cupcake moulds into your handy twelve cupcake mould baking tray. I didn’t have any moulds and – as I have said – didn’t want to shop, so I just lightly oiled the tray.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla extract and mix through until all lumps have been banished. This may take a while so feel free to whisk. If you’re whisk-less you’ll have one sore arm. Sorry.

Fold sifted flour in slowly. I did it in three parts.

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake moulds so they are about 2/3 full. Cook for between 7 and 10 minutes on a shelf in the middle of the over (see notes).

When golden, remove from the oven and allow to sit in the pan until cool.


The Icing:

Mix cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Cream it, if you will. Then mix in lemon juice.

Sift in icing sugar to your preferred consistency.

Apply to the cupcakes. Dress with lemon zest and allow to set.

And there was me talking about using things I had around the house. Well I just so happened to have piping bags. Causally. I’m sure a knife or spoon works fine as well.

One cupcake muwhahaha!

Miscellaneous cupcake rant excerpts:

As it turns out, the trick is remembering them. Don’t go on YouTube, as I did. You will end up with black muffins.

With the chimes of the icecream van streaming through the back door I continued on. What is the ideal cooking time? It really depends on your oven and mine is a monster. I checked them every five minutes and came to a good average of 7mins in the oven.

Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan on the stove top before turning them out. They will continue to cook under their own warmth and reach that level of fluffiness we all love.

I also discovered during this process that I really dislike the term ‘doneness’. Never use it at me. I know I said this was a positive blog, but it really switches on nasty things inside my brain.

I use a tablespoon of oil in all my cake-derivatives because it keeps the sponge extra moist!

For decorative and display purposes paper moulds would have been great. But we were using what we had.

For an extra white muffin, omit egg yolks from the recipe and only use egg whites. You may need to add more eggs! If you want to avoid waste, try making a Bacon and Egg Pie with the yolks.

Feel free to use, abuse and alter this recipe to your little heart’s content! 😀



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