The perfect cupcake recipe is an elusive creature. We might watch it from time to time, but never could we catch it. These cupcakes a relative – third cousin, once removed.
200g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
Up to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup milk
Heat the oven to 180°C or 160°C for a fan-forced oven (355°F / 320°F). Line a muffin pan with paper cases. Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl until light and yellow. Add the eggs one by one, combining them completely. The mixture will take on a mushy, curdled appearance at this point. Add half of the milk and sift in half of the flour then stir them with the mixture. Do the same with the rest of the milk and flour. Spoon the batter into the muffin pan and bake for around fifteen minutes or until golden; the length of time required to cook the muffins will depend on their size. Leave them for a couple of minutes before removing them and allow them to cool before adding icing.
For the icing, combine icing sugar with a little butter and a small amount of milk or hot water. Flavouring, food colouring, vanilla, cocoa solids and similar substances can all be added. Alternatively, combine butter with as much brown sugar as does not quite stop the mixture from separating into pieces then add instant coffee or cocoa. This will produce an illiquid topping that does not set. This recipe takes about half an hour to make and makes at least 24 small- or medium-sized cupcakes.