Butter and sugar make the world go around

Everybody likes cupcakes.  Besides being tragically cute, the small portions make us feel a little less Miss Piggy and a little more Grace Kelly.  And I've never met a man who has refused one of my cupcakes, even when decorated with pink fluffy clouds of buttercream icing.

photo credit: Had a bad day, dear?

photo credit: Had a bad day, dear?

The best bit is that cupcakes are as easy (and as inexpensive) to make as you want.

My never-fail recipe for coffee cupcakes follows.  If coffee isn't your thing (shame on you) then you can use the recipe as a base for a multitude of different variations. Let me tell you how.

My recipe is heavily inspired by Nigella Lawson, whose cupcake recipe can be found in her classic book How to be a Domestic Goddess. My variations involve substituting coffee for milk, homemade buttercream for packet icing and cutting down the sugar to a less sickly level.

Even though this recipe cheats and uses a food processor instead of creaming the butter and sugar in a mixer, the cupcakes turn out beautifully light and fluffy.  I don't know how it works but it does, you'll just have to trust me.

This recipe uses pantry basics and costs almost nothing to make.  The tiny portions mean that there will be enough to go around in the staff room and you will impress everyone with barely any effort.

Ingredients (cake)

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened and chopped
  • 125g self-raising flour, well sifted
  • 100-120(ish)g caster sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 TB fresh espresso, cooled
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of allspice

Ingredients (icing)

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened, chopped
  • 220g pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 TB fresh espresso, chilled
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • food colouring (optional)

Method (cake)

Pre-heat oven (not fan-forced) to 190 degrees celcius.

Prepare mini-muffin tins with tiny paper muffin cases.  This recipe will make 36.  (Alternatively you can make 12 regular sized cupcakes, just adjust the cooking temp to 200 C and cook for 15 minutes.)

Combine all cake ingredients other than the espresso in the bowl of a food processor.  Whizz until combined.  Pour the espresso down the food processor's funnel and process on 'pulse' until the mixture forms a smooth, dripping consistency.

Use a teaspoon (and an extra one to push the mixture out) to evenly fill the mini-muffin cups.

Cook the cupcakes for about 7-8 minutes or until lightly browned and the tops spring back when gently prodded.   Allow to cool on wire racks while you make the icing.

Method (icing)

photo credit: buttercream

photo credit: buttercream

Beat butter and vanilla extract in an electric mixer until as white as possible (this will take a while).

Beat in icing sugar and espresso in two batches (I usually add 100g of sugar and 1 TB of espresso each batch, adding more to taste).

Add food colouring if desired, and mix through.

Pipe buttercream onto cupcakes. If you don't have a piping bag and can't be bothered making one out of greaseproof paper, smoosh the icing onto the cakes with a butter knife or palette knife.

Serve. The cupcakes won't last long!

Variation: if you don't like coffee, use milk (same quantity) in both the cake and icing recipes.

Have you tried my recipe for orange and poppy seed cupcakes with passionfruit butter cream yet?

Other posts you might be interested in reading

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About Rachel

Rachel is a 20-something woman attempting to balance a career, budget, marriage and home. Rachel is horriby weak-willed when it comes to pretty handbags, cupcakes, shoes and chocolate.

16. July 2008 by Rachel
Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 comments

Comments (4)

  1. Ok I totally want to be your new best friend. (But I'll just stick to stalking your blog for now!)

    I was gonna make cupcakes this weekend and I absolutely will be using this recipe! Many thanks :)

  2. I know that Perth is the smallest place in the whole of the known universe, and at the risk of blowing my cover... Sunili, are you a friend of Matthew and Annabel by any chance.. ?

  3. Uuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Yeeeeeeeees...... yes I am....... (I really should have been clever enough to think of an alias, eh?)

  4. These were lovely. There was a shortbread-like quality to the cupcakes which formed a great combination with the creaminess of the butter icing. I often find coffee flavour foods taste vile and so never make them. I never know what equivalent to use of espresso rather than instant coffee is to improve them either. Great to have an espresso-based recipe. Thanks for posting it.

    I'm thinking of trying them the milk way and adding lemon essence and then a lemon curd/butter icing.

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