It seems the days of kids asking for a plain old chocolate cake for their birthday celebrations are long gone. Today, it's all about themed parties and favourite cartoon or TV show characters, but the cost of ordering a themed cake can run into hundreds of dollars. Making cupcakes at home is cheap, easy and the cupcakes can be decorated to match the chosen theme without much effort or know-how. Cupcakes are easy to hand out to guests and even pop into party bags for them to take home. Here's a basic cupcake recipe with a few ideas for decorating them to match the overall party theme:
This recipe makes 24 cupcakes:
For the cakes:
- 230g butter, softened
- 230g unrefined caster sugar
- 4 medium eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 230g self-raising flour
- 2 tablespoons full fat milk
For the buttercream:
- 300g butter, softened
- 600g icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons full fat milk
- 3 drops food colouring of choice (optional)
For the cakes: 1. Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon until the mixture is pale. 2. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined. 3. Fold the flour into the mixture and stir in the milk. 4. Divide mixture between two 12-hole muffin tins lined with paper cases. 5. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/Gas 4 for 12-15 minutes. The cakes are ready when a skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean. 6. Remove the cakes from the tins and cool in their cases on a wire rack.
For the buttercream: 1. Place the butter in a clean bowl and beat until it turns pale. 2. Add half the icing sugar to the butter and beat until smooth. 3. Add the milk and remaining icing sugar and beat again until smooth. 4. Stir in the food colouring if using. 5. Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and use a spiralling motion to pipe icing over the top of each cupcake.
3 Ways To Decorate Your Cupcakes
Here are three ways you can decorate your cupcakes to match any birthday party theme, but look into decorations and supplies sold by companies like Caking Warehouse to take your decorating to the next level.
Use Edible Cupcake Toppers
You can order inexpensive rice paper toppers for your cupcakes that come printed with your chosen party theme image. They come as pre-cut circles that fit perfectly on top of standard cupcakes and they're simple to apply. Don't place them directly on top of the buttercream icing as the toppers may lose their shape. Instead, get some ready to roll royal icing and roll it out to just a few millimetres thick. Use a cookie cutter or hi-ball glass to cut out circles the same diameter as the cupcakes, dab a little buttercream around the edges of the royal icing circles and stick the toppers onto the royal icing circles. Lastly, place the completed icing circles on top of the buttercream iced cupcakes and press down gently to secure.
Use Stand Up Cupcake Toppers
These cake toppers are not edible and are generally made from card attached to a plastic or wooden skewer that you simply insert into each cupcake. Again, there are a wide range of topper designs to choose from, so whether the theme is superheroes or cartoon characters, you'll find toppers to suit.
Use Sugar Paste Decorations
If your child has opted for a less specific theme than their favourite superhero, sugar paste decorations can ensure the cupcakes match the broader theme of the party decorations. For example, sugar paste tiaras are perfect for a princess themed party, while sugar paste footballs are ideal for a sports themed party. You simply position the edible sugar paste decorations on the buttercream icing just after piping it onto the cupcakes.
Making and decorating cupcakes for your child's birthday party is a good way of controlling the cost and portion size, but you'll also have the satisfaction of knowing your child is enjoying cake you made especially for them.