A cupcake recipe you can whip up on the fly

Vanilla cupcake with cream cheese frosting

Here’s a neat little recipe you can whip up on a whim. Literally, and figuratively. The secret is cream – pure cream (more on this later).

I’ll also declare – I’m all about making life easier where I can, and striking the right balance between fuelling my love to create, and making room for little fingers that want to taste, touch and mix.

A couple of principles that have helped me enjoy baking with my little person:

  • Find recipes with only a few ingredients. Less ingredients make for less mess – true 70 per cent of the time by my estimates!
  • Little people want to feel like they’re doing the “important things” like the big people. If your little person can’t yet help with measuring, pre-measure ingredients into seperate bowls so they get to tip them into the mixing bowl.
  • Some recipes enable you to split up the cook into activities over several days. Little people have shorter attention spans, and I have found this very helpful to keep my little person interested, as well as cultivate patience and a sense of achievement. For these cupcakes, I usually bake on one day, and do the frosting and decorating the next. I do the same for gingerbread. We make the dough and refrigerate this on one day, roll out, cut and bake on the second, and decorate on the third.

Now, onto the secret ingredient in this cupcake, which is pure cream. And I can already hear the questions coming. What’s the difference between pure cream and thickened cream? Can you use thickened cream instead of pure cream?

Pure cream has a fat content of around 40 per cent. Thickened cream on the other hand, has about 35 per cent milk fat, and contains stabilisers such as gelatin or vegetable gum to make it easier to whip and less likely to curdle. Here’s a neat little explainer on all things cream. You can definitely swap pure cream out for thickened cream, though whether the lower fat content makes a discernible difference to the cake crumb, is something I’ve yet to test. This recipe makes for a light and fluffy cupcake.

Alright, with all the waffling out of the way, I’m sharing the recipe below.

Vanilla Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 24 cupcakes

You can easily halve the quantities if you’d like to make enough batter for the regular 12-hole cupcake pan. I make 24 because I’d much prefer to use an entire block of cream cheese rather than leaving a half-block languishing in the fridge.


  • 2.5 cups of cake flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups pure cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract / paste

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 1 packet Queen Buttercream Icing Original
  • Food colouring and flavour of your choice (optional)
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract / paste
  • Sprinkles

Vanilla Cupcake

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius and line 2 x 12-hole cupcake / muffin pan with liners.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, add the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract, and whisk thoroughly to combine.

Using a stand mixer, whip up the cream till soft peaks form.

Add the egg mixture to the mixing bowl, followed by the sifted flour mixture. Gently fold until all the flour and egg mixture is incorporated, taking care not to overmix.

Scoop the batter into your cupcake liners.

Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool in the tin for 5 minutes before taking out to cool on a wire rack. Be gentle. Cakes are crumbly when hot.

Cupcakes need to be completely cool before piping.

Cream Cheese Frosting*

Add packet contents of the icing mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer.

Add vanilla and milk, and if using, food colour and flavour of your choice. I went with pink and a tsp of strawberry essence.

Beat on low with paddle attachment until ingredients are combined. It should look like a very thick paste. Scrape down the sides, continue to beat for a further five minutes.

Add cream cheese, beat, gradually increasing speed from low to high, until light and fluffy. You may need to stop and scrape down the bowl from time to time.

Scoop into a piping bag fitted with an open star tip. Pipe onto cupcakes and finish with sprinkles. If you need some tips with piping, I found this video tutorial pretty enlightening.

Once frosted, these cupcakes are best eaten on the day. However, unless it is a sweltering day, they will hold up in an airtight container on the kitchen counter for 2-3 days.


I’ve chosen to make this cream cheese frosting with the help of a packet mix. You can of course make your own cream cheese or buttercream frosting from scratch.

Vanilla cupcakes with icing

A simpler alternative, is to top your cupcakes with icing and sprinkles (see above) – and is especially great for giving full control over to little people to decorate.

To make a simple icing, all you need is to sift 1.5 cups of pure icing sugar into a bowl, add food colouring of choice, followed by 1-1.5 tbs of water or lemon juice, and stir until smooth. Spoon / drizzle onto cupcakes and finish with sprinkles.