How to make the perfect Vanilla Cupcake

When I worked at Woman and Home magazine I sat opposite the Food Editor Jane Curran. This was no bad thing as offers of 'would you like to test this cake/cereal/jam/ice cream?' were often heard. But it was the fact that she is a font of knowledge for everything cake related that made her my ultimate baking guru! What she doesn’t know about cooking and baking you can write on half a postage stamp! I would ask her the strangest questions about lining cake tins and the best cream cheese to use for frostings (only full-fat Philadelphia will do by the way otherwise it goes all floppy). I was amazed by how she can throw ingredients together and create the most delicious cakes.

A few years ago Woman & Home launched a dedicated entertaining food magazine called ‘Feel Good Food’ with Jane as the Editor. I was lucky enough to be asked to write the table setting pages and the gadgets pages (these are great as I get to test all the new food processors, juicers, can openers etc). The latest issue is just out and as usual it's bursting with tons of mouth-watering summer recipes. I thought I'd share this cupcake recipe I have just used to make 120 cakes for a friend’s wedding. They went down a storm and were so easy to make. Of course I had to test a few.... just to check they tasted okay! Have fun baking these, you won’t be able to leave them alone!

Feel Good Food is available from Marks & Spencers, WHSmiths and independent news agents. [Photo: Richard Jung]


Decorate these cakes with rose petals, edible glitter or chocolate shavings.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Makes 12

Prepare ahead/freeze


185g (6½oz) self-raising flour

1 level tsp baking powder

185g (6½oz) caster sugar

185g (6½oz) butter, softened

1tsp vanilla extract

3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

for the frosting:

150g (5oz) full-fat cream cheese

150g (5oz) icing sugar, sifted

edible chocolate roses, optional (available from

cocoa, for dusting

you will need:

1 x 12-hole muffin tray, lined with paper cases, food colouring and decorations

1 Heat the oven to 180 C, 160 C fan, 350 F, gas 4. Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, butter and vanilla extract with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.

2 Gradually whisk in the eggs, then with a large metal spoon, gradually incorporate the flour mixture.

3 Fill each paper case in the tray with 1 generous tablespoon of the mixture. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until slightly golden on top. Remove the cupcakes from the tray and leave to cool on a wire rack.

4 To make the cream-cheese frosting, mix together the cream cheese and icing sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe swirls on to each cake.

5 Decorate each cupcake with cream-cheese frosting and chocolate roses. We used disposable piping bags with a large star nozzle topipe. Begin on the outside, moving to the centre and upwards in a concentric circle. You can decorate the cupcakes the day before serving andleave them in the fridge, or you can freeze them for up to one month undecorated.

Per serving: 355 calories, 21g fat (12g saturated), 38g carbohydrate

TOP TIP: Get ahead - Make a double batch of these when you have time and freeze one lot – undecorated – for up to one month!

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Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor

View all posts by Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor