Birthday cupcakes

Birthday Cupcakes

My daughter decided this year that she wanted a birthday cake that her friends could decorate. Considering that I’d been up until 5am completing the decoration for the previous year’s cake the thought of her friends taking that responsibility from me was something to celebrate! Nevertheless, I was a little concerned that with about 15 children there’d be artistic squabbles, culminating in a huge cake fight! I’d seen an image on Pinterest of a decorate your own cupcake and thought that rather than making a single iced cake that my daughter and all her friends could fight over, why not make them each a cupcake that they could decorate and enjoy in their own time! Being somewhat anally retentive I made life hard for myself by making sure every child had an exactly equal number of the decorations (so rather than making cakes at 5am, I was counting M&Ms and sprinkles at 5am!) but if you’re a normal human being unlike myself this is a really simple and easy way to do something fun and visually stunning for a birthday! The receptacles for the cake and decorations are paint palettes that you can get from most craft shops, pound/dollar stores, Amazon or eBay and we let the children take them home with them so they could use them for their own arty things! I kept them white so that they were a blank canvas for decoration, but if you have a theme, you could easily colour the icing accordingly (e.g. blue for a Frozen party).

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  • 6 ounces / 175g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 6 ounces / 175g caster sugar
  • 6 ounces / 175g self raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 8¾ ounces / 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2¾ ounces / 80g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 fluid ounce / 25ml milk
  • ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) / 356°F (320°F fan).

Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with cupcake cases.

In a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Sift the self-raising flour into a separate bowl with the baking powder and mix with a whisk, then slowly add to the butter mix until combined.

In a jug, gently beat the eggs, salt and vanilla and then slowly add this to your sponge mix scraping down the sides if necessary.

Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden on top and springy to the touch.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Make your icing by beating the sugar and butter together in a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment until well mixed.

Combine the milk and vanilla in a jug and with the mixer on a slow speed, add to your icing slowly making sure it’s all incorporated.

Put your mixer on high and leave to beat for about 5 minutes or until your icing is light and fluffy.

Once your cupcakes are cool, ice with a piping bag.

Place each cupcake in the centre of your paint palette and put a variety of toppings of your choice in the other holes.


The first mention of what is clearly a cupcake-type recipe was in 1796 in American Cookery by Amelia Simmons. This was for a “cake to be baked in small cups”. But the earliest known reference using the word cupcake was in Eliza Leslie’s 1828 cookbook Receipts in a section entitled Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats. While the modern custom is to use specially made metal or silicon baking trays, there are still some cooks who prefer the older method of using heavy pottery cups, ramekins, small coffee mugs, large tea cups, or other oven-proof pottery.

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The Naughty Cook is a digital cookery magazine packed with both healthy and indulgent recipes and is owned by Senlac Hill Publishing, UK.

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