A children's tea party could be the perfect excuse for grown-ups to reach for the baking tray and treat themselves to the 'cream of the cupcake'. With naughty names like Bite My Cherry, Chocolate Maltesers and Lemony Lustres, tucking into a delicious cupcake could be as tempting as a trip to the sweet shop.

We've selected the following three recipes for cakes the whole family can enjoy at teatime. And you can get some junior help in the kitchen with the stirring, the decorating - and the tasting of course.


(Makes about 12 if you can be bothered to put them in cases/cups)

  • 110g/1 cup self-raising flour.
  • 110g/1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar.
  • 110g/1/2 cup margarine, softened.
  • 1tsp baking powder.
  • 2 large free-range eggs.
  • 1tsp pure vanilla extract.
  • 1 quantity of glace icing.
  • Gel food colouring of your choice.
  • Sprinkles of your choice to decorate.

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas mark 3. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.

Sift the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl, food processor or mixer. Add the margarine, baking powder, eggs and vanilla. Turn on or beat like fury until it's all pale and fluffy. Tip the mixture (batter) into the prepared baking tin and level carefully. Bake in the centre of oven for about 20 minutes or until the cake is firm to the touch and golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Make the icing (see below). You now have two options here. For both options, you need to have the cake upside down so that the bottom of the cake is the part that's iced. If the top of the cake is not level, just level it by slicing the uneven bit off with a sharp knife so that the cake sits flat.

OPTION ONE Means that you cover the whole cake in icing, add the sprinkles and cut into squares when the icing is dry. Place each square in an individual case.

OPTION TWO Involves cutting the cake into squares first, then drizzling the icing over the individual squares so that the icing dribbles down the sides of the cakes too. Add the sprinkles and, when the icing is dry, place the squares in cases.


(Makes enough for 12 cupcakes).

  • 200g/1 1/4 cups icing (confectioners') sugar, sifted
  • Juice of 1 large lemon OR 55ml boiling water
  • Gel food colouring of your choice Put the sifted icing sugar in a bowl. Add the liquid slowly, a little at a time, and stir until smooth. Stop adding liquid when you like the look of the consistency. It should be a smidgen thicker than double (whipping) cream.

Add a tiny amount of colour - use a cocktail stick or toothpick dipped into the colour. You can always add more if you want, but there is no way to undo a lurid amount of colour without making a super-huge batch of icing.


(Makes about 12)

  • 85g/3/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 4tbsp cocoa powder
  • 110g/1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar
  • 110g/1/2 cup margarine, softened
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2tbsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 2tsp boiling water
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 25g chocolate coffee beans (optional)
  • Gold dragees (optional) to decorate For the mocha buttercream:.
  • 110g/1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g/1 1/2 cups icing (confectioners' sugar)
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 2tsp boiling water You will need a large piping (decorating) bag fitted with a star nozzle.

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas mark 3. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Sift the flour, cocoa and sugar into a mixing bowl, food processor or mixer. Add the margarine, baking powder, dissolved coffee and eggs, and beat well until the mixture (batter) is light and fluffy. (If you want to add a real bonus feature, chuck in a small handful of chocolate coffee beans and fold them in.) Spoon the mixture into the prepared cases, and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To make the buttercream, put the butter in a bowl, sift the icing sugar and cocoa over the top, and beat away. Add the coffee and beat again. If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more sifted icing sugar. Bit dry? Add a tiny bit more coffee.

Place a piping bag with a star nozzle into a beaker, and fill the bag with the icing. Pipe huge, glamorous swirls onto the cakes, and dot with gold dragees, if you so wish.


(Makes about 10)

  • 175g/1 cup soft brown sugar
  • 175ml sunflower oil
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg Pinch of salt
  • 225g/1 1/4 cups grated or shredded carrot For the cream cheese frosting:.
  • 1 x 225g packet cream cheese (not soft or light cream cheese), softened
  • 2tsp honey (or more to taste)
  • Grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange
  • Orange sprinkles, to decorate Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases. Mix the sugar and oil in a large bowl. Add the eggs and mix well. Sift in the dry ingredients, and beat everything together until really well combined. Next add the grated carrots and stir through well.

Place spoonfuls of mixture (batter) in the prepared cases and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Watch these like a hawk as they have a tendency to burn. If the tops are getting a bit dark and it looks like the innards are still raw, cover with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and cook a little longer. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

While they are cooling, make the frosting. Put the cream cheese in a bowl and beat till softened. Stir in the honey and orange zest. Give it a taste to make sure it is sweet enough. Add a bit more honey if you want. When the cakes are cold, spread the frosting over the top and decorate at will.