Jenny Colgan’s Failsafe Vanilla Cupcakes

From: Meet me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan

Makes 12


These are the ingredients I used. (In brackets are the original ingredients where they differ.)

125g margarine at room temperature (butter)

125g castor sugar

2 large eggs at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla essence (Vanilla extract)

2 Tbsp milk

125g self-raising flour


  1. Ensure the oven shelf is in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 190C.
  2. Line a cupcake/muffin tin with paper cases.
  3. With an electric beater, beat the margarine and sugar until light, pale and fluffy. (This takes some time – it must be a very pale cream colour)
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla essence and milk.
  5. Sift in the self-raising flour.
  6. With a whisk, mix together until dropping consistency is reached. (The mixture should be fairly smooth and should drop off the whisk when you lift it out. If it doesn’t drop, beat the mixture a little more.)
  7. Spoon into the paper cases (I used an ice-cream scoop, which made it easier and ensured more even distribution). No need to smooth the mixture, the oven heat will do that.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes.
  9. After 12 minutes, using oven gloves, test by inserting a cake tester (or toothpick) in the centre of a cupcake. If there is cake on the tester, bake for a few minutes more. (Total baking time for me was 15 minutes, but ovens vary).
  10. If the tester comes out clean, use oven gloves and remove the tin from the oven. Remove the cupcakes from the tin immediately. Place on a wire rack to cool. (Be sure to remove from the tin immediately, otherwise the heat of the tin will continue to cook the cupcakes, and will make them dry.)
  11. Allow to cool for at least an hour.
  12. When cool, ice with buttercream icing.

Buttercream Icing:

125g margarine (butter)

250g icing sugar

1 tsp Vanilla essence

Milk (to be added bit by bit) 

  1. Beat the margarine in a bowl until very soft.
  2. Add the icing sugar and beat together until smooth (start on a low speed to prevent the icing sugar “cloud”).
  3. Beat in the vanilla essence and 1 Tbsp of milk.
  4. Add splashes more milk (1 tsp at a time) until the consistency you desire is reached. (You want it soft, not sloppy).

With these delicious cupcakes as your base, you can really get creative with the icing and decorating, depending on the occasion. For our recent family Easter lunch, I decided to make Easter baskets rather than just plain cupcakes for teatime. A few drops of green food colouring in the piped icing, some speckled eggs and a firm bendable candy is all that was needed to create the effect, which made a charming addition to the table:



5 responses to “Jenny Colgan’s Failsafe Vanilla Cupcakes

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