Lucy's Friendly Foods

Now the book is out in the shops, I can start being creative again, start making more delicious friendly things to eat. As it’s nearing the end of November, things will turn Christmassy soon, but in the meantime these are the very vanilla cupcakes I made for Little S’s birthday, way back in October. I so often opt for chocolate flavours as I know they always go down a storm, but sometime a simple, elegant vanilla just hits the spot.

These vanilla cupcakes have a fabulous crumb, they’re not crumbly like some egg-free cakes, due to the addition of custard powder which helps to bind the ingredients and gives a nice bouncy texture. If you can’t find custard powder that is suitable for you, I’d recommend using cornflower instead, plus a tiny pinch of turmeric for colour but not flavour.

These cupcakes were for a sleepover party, so I opted for a rather elegant swoosh of velvety buttercream, but spreading or any other piping would work just as well. I’d recommend keeping this vanilla cupcake and buttercream recipe to hand – it can be used in so many ways – as the base for many a cupcake combo, or as a pudding should you add dried fruit or chocolate chips and served with steaming hot custard.

I’ve specified vanilla extract in the recipe as it’s slightly cheaper and easy to find, but if you have the choice I’d really recommend vanilla paste for a more intense vanilla flavour.

Have I tempted you that vanilla can be as good as chocolate?

Very Vanilla Cupcakes with velvety vanilla buttercream

Dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan Makes 6 cupcakes, easily doubled
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American


  • Cupcake tin plus 6 paper liners


  • 100 g self-raising flour
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp custard powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50 ml flavourless oil
  • 75 ml dairy-free milk
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • For the buttercream:
  • 75 g dairy-free margarine
  • 250 g icing sugar
  • ½ tbsp dairy-free milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade
  • Line a cupcake tray with 6 liners
  • In a bowl, combine the self-raising flour, custard powder, caster sugar and salt.
  • In a jug or a separate bowl, combine the oil, milk, bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir well and then pour into the dry ingredients.
  • Stir well until fully combined and then divide between the cake liners.
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes until golden and risen and a knife comes out clean.
  • Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to fully cool
  • Next, whisk together all the buttercream ingredients until you have a lovely light, velvety icing.
  • Pipe or spread onto the cooled cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles or sweets.
Keyword cupcakes, vanilla


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