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Wednesday 1 June 2011

Butter Crisis Cupcakes

Some of the people who ate these think I am the kind of guy who arranges small blue discs of wafer to resemble roses on top of iced cakes. I hate to shatter dreams... But I ordered them online.

Oh my gosh, it's been ages.

And it's going to be pretty brief since it's late and I should really be going to bed. Work tomorrow and I need to sleep off a bad mood, since what should have been, and started out as, a wonderful day rapidly soured when I made the mistake of getting my hair did by someone other than the guy who normally does it. Some lady cut all my hair off! I am angry, upset and frustrated all at the same time. I haven't felt this bad since I watched Lust, Caution (which by the way, I really feel should have been named 'Death in a Quarry' instead).


Anyway... Tomorrow may yet be better.

I have a cupcake recipe for you today. It's one that has been around the web already, but I thought I'd share it since it's wedding season now, and there may be some of you out there who are planning on making wedding cupcakes for somebody, as I did recently. And I don't have anything else to post, so if you were hoping for duck à l'orange, you'd be better going elsewhere today.

It might really help you out though, since the recipe's yield is high considering the ingredients needed. The recipe I would normally use is made up of an equal weight of flour, sugar, eggs and butter. This one more than halves the butter and uses only one egg per dozen cupcakes in place of the usual two. It is the cupcake of mass caterers, and, Honey, it is going to save you a fortune.

Let's face it: the UK butter crisis is never going to get the sort of front page coverage it deserves, but it seems like the days of reasonably priced butter are long gone. On DDD, I couldn't let this pass without a mention. Frankly, I feel I should be wearing a black arm band. It is a sad day indeed when you have to consider the baker's margarine option. This recipe should push thoughts of trans-fats to the back of your mind though. What's more, even the buttercream icing has much less butter in it than the one I normally use. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I feel I should be screaming 'Home Bakers take note!'

Full disclosure (for you deserve no less): I made 138 frosted cupcakes and an 8 inch frosted and filled layer cake for less than £48 with this recipe. That included £8 worth of fancy pants cupcake wrappers, and a cake stand that cost £15.

You want to try it out for yourself, don't you? Be my guest. Just promise to let me lick the bowl.

Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Icing
(adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

You will need:

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
zest of one lemon, grated
40g soft butter
125ml milk, at room temperature
1 egg

  1. Heat oven to 170°C and line a 12 bun muffin tin with liners.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest in a large bowl. Then add the butter and three quarters of the milk and mix with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until all the ingredients are moistened. Turn the speed to high and beat for a further minute.
  3. Add the egg and remaining milk; beat in on high speed for 45 seconds.
  4. Divide the (quite runny) mixture between the paper cases and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack. Then make the frosting.
250g icing sugar
30ml milk, at room temperature
40g soft butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Simply beat all the ingredients together for 5 minutes on high speed, until creamy and fluffy. Use to ice the cakes.
(Special thanks to Dave Fletcher Photography for letting me use the top photo.)


  1. The cup cakes look cute and are really easy to assemble and bake!

  2. Oh Mr.P, sorry about your hair. I never watched lust, caution and now will not be going to. I don't think it's my cup of tea anyway.
    The cupcakes look great. It's hard to believe the cost is only £48 for 138 cupcakes...

  3. I'm glad I'm not the only one noticing the rising price of butter! Each time I'm shopping I'm thinking 'Really? How much?!', thank you for the useful recipe!

  4. i will definitely be trying these!
    i LOVE cupcakes :)

  5. Will definitely be giving this one a go! In fact, I have some cakes to bake tomorrow...

  6. Thanks for this, it will definitely come in handy for me. Out of all the shops, I find that Waitrose sometimes has BOGOF on Lurpak and President. On such occasions, I load 30 blocks into my trolley and pop them in the freezer on getting home.

  7. Gorgeous sounding cupcakes - worth the butter outlay without a doubt! You have my hair sympathies, just remember it will grow back and the alice band is very big this season!

  8. Great recipe and you're so perfectly timed as I'm making a lot if cupcakes recently for my new venture so thanks.

  9. Wow this is fantastic I am SO glad you have shared this with us - though not glad you are sad about having your hair chopped off... Boo to that, buy yay to mass cupcakes on the cheap! Woot!

  10. Great post! Glad I'm not the only one who's noticed the bafflingly steep rise in butter prices! I'm planning on using this hummingbird recipe to make plain cupcakes this weekend too and I too was pleasantly surprised at how little butter it needs!

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  12. I am all for saving on eggs and butter - they are indeed expensive. Cute roses on those cakes! Hope you are feeling less devastated.

  13. Mr. P, it has never occurred to me to make just 12 cupcakes! I always make 24, then have to eat too many of them in order to use them up. Why not just make 12?! And I think I'll experiment with cutting back on the butter in my lemon cupcakes, for health as well as economy! I eat waaaayy too much butter!

  14. Mr.P. I stopped using butter in cupcakes completely. I use Canola oil... not sure if that is available in your part of the world, readily available here in Canada.

    Canola gives the cupcakes a really moist crumb. Something to do with science I believe, saturated versus unsaturated fats etc.

    Butter is also quite pricey in Canada ($4-$5 per pound depending on brand and where you buy it), so this has worked very well for me.

  15. I feel your pain. My former hairdresser, who I had been going to for years, chopped my hair off into two puppy dog ears. I looked exactly like a cocker spaniel. That was two summers ago and I haven't gotten over the trauma, but it grew out, and yours will too.
    I love your blog and one of these days I'm going to try to make some lamingtons!


That's what he said.

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