Ever since those girls in Sex and the City sashayed into our lives, cupcakes seem to have taken over as cake du jour. They crop up everywhere.
We see them stacked high at weddings in place of the traditional iced monstosity, at grown up girls' birthday parties, at little girls's birthday parties, at picnics, at restaurants and even in our local supermarkets. Are they, therefore in danger of getting a little blah?
Not if Xanthe Milton has anything to do with it. Her book, Eat Me! The Stupendous, Self-raising World of Cupcakes and Bakes According to Cookie Girl is the cupcake bible that will bring back the wow-factor.
Remember the reaction you got when you baked your first cake and then add ten thousand, Xanthe's recipes are that special.
Her book contains gems such as Pina Colada cupcakes and Black Forrest cupcakes - but we've selected our very favourite three: French Toast cupcakes | Bollywood Cupcakes | Orange, raspberry and yoghurt
"When I first invented these cakes my family simply couldn't get enough of them," she says. They really do taste like the French toast they are named after. I think they look cute with light brown icing and miniature gingerbread men sprinkled on top."
170g/6 oz plain flour
1½tbsp baking powder
½tsp ground cinnamon
110g/4 oz unsalted butter
225g/8 oz granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2tsp vanilla extract
2tsp maple syrup
50ml/2 fl oz milk
For the icing
110g/4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
110g/4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
450g/1 lb icing sugar, sifted
brown food colouring
sprinkles to decorate (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/Gas 4. Line a 12-hole nonstick muffin tray with paper cases.
Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. Melt the butter and let it cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together, then add the melted butter. Mix the vanilla, maple syrup and milk in a separate bowl or jug.
Now stir the flour mixture into the sugar, eggs and butter, followed by the milk mixture. Beat until everything is
Divide the mixture between the paper cases so that each is about three-quarters full. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Check with a skewer – it should come out clean if the cakes are cooked. Remove the cakes from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, make the icing. Using an electric whisk, mix the butter and cream cheese. Add the icing sugar, a
third at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the cinnamon with the last of the icing sugar. Add a dot or two of food colouring if you like.
Using a piping bag with a straight-edged nozzle, pipe icing onto the cakes, working from the outside into a peak in the centre. Decorate with sprinkles - I like to use little gingerbread men.
Eat Me! The Stupendous, Self-raising World of Cupcakes and Bakes According to Cookie Girl is published by Ebury and costs £15.