Fiona Cairns’ Little Monsters cup cakes


All-in-one orange cake batter…

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened, diced
  • 250g self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • finely grated zest of 2 large oranges and juice of 1/2
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • For this batter, you can use an electric mixer with beater attachement, a food processor or a bowl and an electric whisk. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, add the orange zest, sugar, butter and eggs. Beat together and lastly add the orange juice. Do not over-mix.

For the syrup (optional)…

  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 5 tbsp caster sugar

For the icing…

  • 500g icing sugar, sifted
  • 5–6 tbsp orange or lemon juice

To make the monsters…

  • 500g white sugarpaste (or ready mixed colours of your choice – we used pink, green, red, yellow and blue, violet, orange and black food colour paste)
  • 60g piping bag white royal icing, no. 1 nozzle


  • Step 1

    To bake the cupcakes, line two cupcake tins with the paper cases. Divide the batter between the cases.

  • Step 2

    Bake for 15–18 minutes, or until the cakes spring back to the touch. Meanwhile, if you are making the syrup, mix the orange juice and sugar in a bowl.

  • Step 3

    Immediately the cakes come from the oven, prick holes all over each with a cocktail stick and douse with syrup. (Only do this after they are defrosted, if the cakes have been frozen). Leave to cool completely in the tins.

  • Step 4

    When ready to be iced, place the icing sugar in a bowl and gradually add just enough orange juice to make a pourable consistency which coats the back of a spoon. Pour a spoonful or so of the icing over each cake, gently easing it over the cake with a spoon so it spreads to the edges. Allow to set for an hour or so.

  • Step 5

    To decorate the cupcakes, begin by dividing the white sugarpaste into however many colours you wish to use (each of my monsters took 20–30g) and colour it (see page 168), keeping back a little white for the eyes and teeth.

  • Step 6

    Make your monsters! Stick the monster parts together with royal icing, and decorate each cake with a monster, adhering with a blob of royal icing, if necessary.

Makes 16 cupcakes, so don't forget to buy cupcake cases!

Thank you to Fiona Cairns for the recipe.