Firstly – thanks to everyone who has been following, commenting and supporting the blogs on the Preloved Tour! I hope you’ve had as much fun reading my entries as I have had reading your comments. Hope you will join me on Monday for the final week, there’s more books to win and a surprise gift on the very last day:)


One of the ghosts has gone a bit mad


Thanks for liking my Pacman cupcakes (which first appeared on The Tales Compendium). Funnily enough I have been asked to contribute to an internally-published cookbook Walker Books is making to raise money for Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea (for cancer). Bonus photos and sekrit recipe below!


Much love *muah* Shirley xx



Hellooo Kitty!


Babyshower Duckie Cupcakes. Everything is edible.


Frangipani Beach Wedding


Before I became an author, I used to have a small cupcake business called Bellacake, catering for Parties, Wedding, Anything! I’ve always loved baking in the same way I love writing – the ability to take simple ingredients (butter, eggs, sugar or words and ideas) and craft something infinitely more valuable. I’m also a sugar smith as well and can make any type of decoration out of icing.


I think it was a combination of reading too much Primo Levi, Maus and Tomorrow, When The War Began when I was a youth, but I’ve always believed in being good at two things – one involving the mind and the other the hands. Because I believed if I got captured in the Dystopian future, Writer Shirley would definetly be the first to go, but Baker Shirley who can make beautiful and delicious cakes might be spared!


I present to you my recipe for my simple signature vanilla cupcake and vanilla buttercream frosting. This produces a traditional, dense cupcake with a large crumb, reminiscent of the celebration cakes people my age (Gen Y) would have eaten in their childhood. I like to think that each mouthful tastes like nostalgia!


Both my recipes are very simple. Anyone can make them. My tip for the best cupcakes is attention to detail – such as remembering to take the butter and eggs out to gently warm up, being intuitive to the temperature of your kitchen, using the best and freshest ingredients you can buy. And most importantly, bake with love. Be joyous in the kitchen – have fun, think of the people you’re baking for, give your neighbours and friends all the wonky/rejected/overcooked cakes (I’ve never seen anyone refuse fresh wonky cakes).


Remember – baking is value-adding to sugar, eggs and flour

A generous baker is a loved baker.



Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

(makes 12 to 18 depending on tin size)

150g butter (at room temperature)

150g castor sugar

175g self-raising flour

3 eggs (at room temperature)

splash of milk (at room temperature)

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste


1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Line a cupcake pan with patty papers.

3. Lightly beat the eggs.

4. Sift the flour and sugar.

5. Place all ingredients into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until light.

6. Fill each patty case with 2/3 of the mixture.

7. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until risen and gently springs to the touch.

8. Allow to cool for a few minutes and transfer to wire rack.

9. Allow to completely cool before icing.



Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

150g butter (at room temperature)

250g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

Splash of boiling water


1. Beat butter for 2 minutes until pale.

2. Slowly add sugar.

3. Add vanilla and the water. beat until smooth and creamy.

4. With a soft, bendable spatular “render” the icing i.e. – fold it inside the bowl to give it extra air and smoothness.

5. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest.

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11 comments
14 likes · like  • 
Published on April 21, 2012 20:26 • 489 views
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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Shirley, you are marvelous for displaying your frosting recipe, and well, for just being an overall fantastic writer and person.

The cupcakes lool scrumptious. :) And I still need to find a copy of Preloved! I must do that soon...


message 2: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie Thanks for sharing your recipes Shirley! It's almost lunchtime here and I have a craving to run to the bakery now. Who needs real food anyways pfft. :D


message 3: by Shirley (new)

Shirley Marr Thanks girls! Yes cupcakes are all about the frosting! I eat heaps of cake and look at me, it's obviously good for the brain*

*this is a subjective statement with no scientific proof.


message 4: by Belle (new)

Belle Squee! Thanks for sharing your recipe! I am in awe of your cupcakes. Mine mostly always turn out a bit wonky but practice makes perfect, right? ;)


message 5: by Surin (new)

Surin Looks lovely! Can't wait to try your recipe out! I have problems with my cupcakes separating from my liners. Any tips to avoid this? Is it the liner's fault? Cause maybe the liners in Malaysia are of inferior quality?


message 6: by Shirley (new)

Shirley Marr @ Belle - of course. And i"ll be more than happy to eat your wonky cupcakes :)

@ S - Hmmmm, maybe they have baked for too long? You can try pulling them out a little early and letting them rest in the tins to prolong the "cooking" process and see if that helps. Or your batter might be a little too watery and you might like to find a recipe that produces a thicker batter. Or perhaps it is the paper you are using. Guess the only way to find out is to maybe order some high grade liners off the net and see? Sorry for this huge cupcake diagnostic paragraph!


Eyehavenofilter Yummy. Yummy yummy! Tis all I have to say in thanks.


message 8: by Shirley (new)

Shirley Marr Thanks Ada! :)


message 9: by jo (new)

jo mo can't wait getting my paws on preloved, ordered it and it's on it's way to my address. *crying tears of joy* but i will control myself and read it after my exam this week!


message 10: by Shirley (new)

Shirley Marr Joe, I hope you enjoy, the pressure on me for it to live up to expectations must now be enormous ;-) GOOD LUCK for your exam! x


message 11: by jo (new)

jo mo thanks gurl! :)


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