Cupcakes are always popular, so why not have a cupcake party where you invite some of your children’s friends over and they can have fun baking and decorating cupcakes to look like animals? Tip: For best results when making cakes, the butter and eggs should be at room temperature before you mix them together.

125 g/4Voz butter or margarine

(at room temperature)

125 g/4Voz caster sugar

Vteaspoon grated lemon zest

2 eggs, at room temperature

125 g/4Voz self-raising flour

Wteaspoon baking powder

buttercream

(or use ready-made vanilla

and chocolate icing)

100 g/4 oz unsalted butter, softened

225 g/8 oz icing sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon milk

Vteaspoon vanilla extract

pink food colouring (optional)

decoration

assorted sweets: try liquorice allsorts,

marshmallows, mini marshmallows, jelly

beans,M&Ms, giant chocolate buttons,

dollymixture, or chocolate chips

biscuits

mini chocolate digestive biscuits

langues de chat

black ready-made icing

MAKES 10 CUPCAKES

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and line a muffin tray with 10 paper cases. Put the butter, sugar, lemon zest, eggs, flour and baking powder into a bowl and beat in an electric food mixer orwith a hand-held electric whisk until smooth. Divide the mixture evenly between the paper cases and bake for about 20minutes, or until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the muffin tray for a few minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the buttercream (if you are not using readymade icing). Beat the butter in a bowl until soft. Add half the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar, the milk and a few drops of vanilla extract. If you like, put some icing into a separate bowl and colour itwith a few drops of food colouring.

Once cool, spread buttercream icing on top, then decorate with sweets, biscuits and black icing to look like animals. If you are planning ahead for a party, make the cakes up to a month in advance and freeze in a plastic box. Defrost at room temperature before icing.

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