Your cupcakes say a lot about you

January 26, 2010

So the other day my lovely friend English Mum, in between raising thousands for Haiti with Shelterbox, gave me her patented recipe for cupcake icing. It’s basically 300 g of icing sugar to 150g of butter, add a little milk if you must, a drop or two of vanilla essence and food colouring à volonté.

‘Don’t forget to send me a photo,’ she said.

Well, since then, we have consumed hundreds of cupcakes at Divorce Towers (I prefer to call them fairycakes but somehow, unfortunately, I’ve got out of the habit. ‘Cupcake’ used to jar badly. Alarmingly, now it doesn’t seem to any more. It’s a slippery, butter-icing encrusted slope. Soon, when people say, ‘how are you?’ I know I’ll be saying ‘Ah’m goooooood,’ like I’m blummin Hanah Montana or something, instead of the proper British response of a mumbled ‘fine’). Yes, we’ve made hundreds of cupcakes. We’ve also eaten hundreds of cupcakes so, rather shame-facedly, I only got round to photographing the stragglers from the last batch this morning. They’ll be gone by this evening, I guarantee it.

As I snapped them, I got to thinking. Your cupcakes really say a lot about you. In a restrained household, they would probably sit around for weeks, looking graceful. Chez Divorce Towers, they are lucky to make it through the night unravaged. Icing is particularly telling, I find. Here is one iced by Child Two:


As you see, she favours a ‘pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap’ approach, leading inevitably to a ‘munch ’em fast’ approach to consumption.

Child One, two years older and with a steady hand on the icing, produced this lovely creation:


I’m afraid I am frankly just going to show off with mine, because I’ve finally more or less learned to control my Lakeland icing bag. For weeks, it has raced around the kitchen like a half-blown cartoon balloon, zipping hither and thither and spraying icing at the walls. Then, last time, I held it firmly, gave it a good talking to, and made this:


Yay! What does this say about me? Well, I’m certainly a trier. If at first things don’t succeed, I’ll get very depressed, drink a lot of Chardonnay, moan on at anyone who’ll listen – and, eventually, pick myself up and keep on going until I get there. If it works for cupcakes, it’ll work for the rest of life too, won’t it?


There, I’ve shown you mine. If you feel inspired, I’d love to see yours.

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  • Rosie Scribble January 26, 2010 at 4:42 am

    I usually burn my cooking, including cupcakes. Not sure what that says about me! Perhaps I’ll try consulting a recipe and reading the cooking times properly in future.

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 7:34 am

      Oh gosh, I wouldn’t bother with reading the recipe. Just go with the Lowri Turner ‘it’s not burnt, it’s tanned’ approach, I use it all the time now 🙂

  • PippaD @ A Mothers Ramblings January 26, 2010 at 4:45 am

    I shall rise to the challenge and shall even put up a link to the cakes I have made in the past… I think that it proves I have ideas above my station 😉

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 7:35 am

      Oooh, that’s fantastic, Pippa, I shall be right over to have a peek!

  • Liz (LivingwithKids) January 26, 2010 at 4:49 am

    I love this post – it sounds like one of those US self-help books along the lines of ‘Chicken soup is good for the soul.’ Quick DD, patent it now!

    My fairy cakes tend to be very neatly iced, because I do it… but I made muffins the other day which grew so big in the oven I thought they were going to take on a life of their own. I really want to try English Mum’s cupcakes next!

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 7:37 am

      Ooooh, good idea, Liz, why do I never think of things like that? Those muffins sound stupendous! We used the Delia Smith ‘all in one sponge’ recipe for the cupcakes – throw everything in together and beat the c**p out of it 🙂

  • Metropolitan Mum January 26, 2010 at 4:50 am

    I am preparing a cupcake post at the very moment. Ha! The competition is on. 😉

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 7:38 am

      Looking forward to that, MM – hope your holiday was good 🙂

  • Heather January 26, 2010 at 4:54 am

    They do look yum. I never used to bother decorating mine but have gotten into it recently as a means to keeping the kids quietly entertained for half an hour. Nothing as glam as that tho, looks very pretty.

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 7:39 am

      I’m afraid the icing keeps me quietly entertained for a half hour as well! Think I am regressing …..

  • Victoria January 26, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Oooh, cupcakes… that’s this afternoon’s activity sorted!

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 7:40 am

      Always happy to help, Victoria …and cleaning the mixture off every surface can be tonight’s activity, or is that just me?

  • Chic Mama January 26, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Haha…..mine would say I’m a control freak who won’t let the children anywhere near decorating the ‘cupcakes’- I have problems with that word too!
    If I do then I have to remove myself to avoid yelling at them to decorate ‘neatly’ LOL! ;0) Incidently I prefer glace icing….but yours do look very inviting. :0)

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 7:41 am

      OOooh, could you do me some glace fairycakes? I’m sure they look gorgeous 🙂

  • MrsW January 26, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Yup – that’s exactly the icing I make… slap it on and sprinkle away the flaws… which is, coincidentally, about the only make-up tip I have too

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 7:42 am

      But that’s the only way to do make-up, isn’t it? Or is that just me?? Are those your cupcakes in the picture? If so, I’m impressed!

  • Michelle January 26, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Great cakes, I have just devoured two made by me and kids on Sunday. In fact I blogged about it and showed some photos too Ours are not elegant but we enjoyed ourselves. Youw will see my ones on the tray – the true fairy cakes with wings and evertyhing. What does that say about me?? Mich x

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 7:44 am

      Oh, I was telling the girls about the fairycake/wing variation, we used to call those angelcakes in my youth – very retro. They are going to to be our next project! I shall pop over and see yours straight away x

  • English Mum January 26, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Wow they’re beautiful. And I love the avante-garde use of blue as well – very anti establishment 🙂

    Gorgeous… and yes, I’m with you on ‘cupcake’, it’s a bit odd isn’t it? Like calling nappies ‘diapers’. It just seems like everyone’s doing it these days…


    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 7:46 am

      Yes, for some reason we’re on a blue kick at the moment ….possibly because we’ve run out of pink 🙂 The icing is truly delish, thank you xx

  • Amy Lane January 26, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Mmmm…. they look yummy! I spent so long making, decorating and eating cupcakes that I started my own business! My daughter has followed in my footsteps and loves decorating them, using all my different types of cutters and gobbing them on the top 🙂

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

      Just popped over to your place and wow! Your cakes are amazing, and the ones your daughter made are just beautiful. I think I need lessons!

  • rosiero January 26, 2010 at 9:26 am

    I’m more of a spread-the-icing-on-like-a-glaze fairy-cake icer, rather than a grapple-with-a-Lakeland-bag-twirly-stuff one. (I do so prefer the word fairy-cake to cupcake). But I have to say, my dumplings are renowned!!

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 26, 2010 at 9:52 am

      I think we are developing two camps – glaze vs buttercream! I would say, let’s have a picture of your dumplings, but I’m not sure how you’d take it!!! 🙂

      • rosiero January 26, 2010 at 10:03 am

        As for my dumplings, you are best left
        in the dark, m’dear!

        • Dulwich Divorcee January 27, 2010 at 10:44 am

          Well, you know best! I’m sure they are utterly delightful …..

  • suburbia January 26, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    My 2 eat most of the icing before it gets anywhere near the cakes!

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 27, 2010 at 10:45 am

      Hmmm, yes, Suburbia, I’m with you ….we have a lot of collateral damage too, it’s frankly amazing any gets on the cakes ….

  • snafflesmummy January 29, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Excellent efforts. Cupcakes are very addictive.

    Mine would say – “to have learnt to ice like that I bet your the size of a house!” – and yes I am!

    Please dont hate me for making pretty cakes.