These Easy Halloween Cupcakes are basic enough for kids to bake and don’t involve a tonne of food colouring or anything too creepy. They’re simple vanilla fairy cakes with a water icing topping and coloured sprinkles. Googly eyes complete the look of these cute Halloween buns!
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I’ll be honest, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Halloween. Don’t hate me. It’s not something that was big in the UK when I was a kid. With the possible exception of carving a pumpkin. Or sometimes when no one remembered to buy a pumpkin, we carved a swede!
As I don’t have kids now, it really isn’t something that I get involved in. But I love seeing some of the creative cakes and bakes that get made around this time of year. And I am a huge fan of getting kids into the kitchen to cook and bake. I created my Chocolate Cornflake Cake recipe around Easter for the same reason.
I also published my Vanilla Butterfly Fairy Cakes recipe as this was another of the things that I started baking when I was very young. This basic iced fairy cake recipe starts in exactly the same was with a simple vanilla sponge. But instead of buttercream I’ve created a layer of simple icing which is covered with fun googly eyes and sprinkles.
What I’ve learnt about Halloween baking is that if you add googly eyes to basically anything, you’re golden!
How to Serve Halloween Cupcakes
Whether you’re having an at home Halloween party, wanting to send something cute and fun in a lunch box in the run up or handing out treats to trick or treaters, these little cakes are ideal.
The only thing you need to remember is to peel off the paper case.
I’ve found some other fun bakes for you to try too:
- Ghost Strawberries from Sew White
- Halloween Meringues from Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen
- Cat Cupcakes from Only Crumbs Remain
- Halloween Brownies from Cooking With My Kids
- Spider Energy Balls from Sneaky Veg Blog
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Halloween Fairy Cakes
You can use basically any butter or margarine that you want. A baking margarine will make a lovely light cake. Proper butter will give you an extra rich flavour. Don’t forget to make your own for an extra (and economical) treat.
I always use salted butter. I don’t understand the obsession with baking with unsalted butter. There isn’t a dish or bake that isn’t enhanced by a bit of salt after all. If you only have unsalted, just add a little salt to the recipe.
I have specifically specified using plain (all purpose) flour and baking powder rather than self raising or self rising flour. This is to control the rise on the cakes. We are looking for a flat top which the icing will lay flat on. A domed top will mean that you need to level off the cakes which is extra work.
The purple and orange sprinkles, or hundreds and thousands or ‘nonpareils’ that I used came from Aldi. I like them because they only use natural colours. I’m not a huge fan of food colouring hence the lack of green or bright orange cakes.
You really can use whatever sprinkles you choose but obviously if you’re aiming for a Halloween theme, you want to look for Halloweeny colours. You know what I’m talking about. I do also find that the small balls work better than the small stick like kind.
I feel like I shouldn’t need to say this but I’m going to just in case. You need to buy edible sugar googly eyes, not the stick on plastic kind!!! Alternatively you can make them using white and black sugar paste or white sugar paste and an edible marker.
You can vary the flavour of the fairy cake if you wish. Here are just a few ideas:
- Substitute a tablespoon of flour for cocoa powder to make chocolate buns.
- Throw in a handful of chocolate chips.
- Replace some of the milk with lemon juice and add lemon zest.
- Swap the vanilla extract for orange extract. Or any other flavour you fancy.
You can alternatively replace the simple white lemon icing that I’ve used. Why not try:
- A chocolate ganache (50/50 mix of melted chocolate and cream. Heat the cream and stir the chocolate in until melted). Use any chocolate you fancy.
- Swap a tablespoon of icing sugar for cocoa powder.
- Replace the lemon juice with water for a neutral taste or add a little vanilla or orange extract as well.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
This recipe is ostensibly suitable for vegetarians. However please note that not all sprinkles are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. It is probably worth checking the googly eyes too.
The sprinkles I bought were coated in shellac which is animal derived. Others use beeswax which is fine for vegetarians but not vegans. Vegan versions are readily available so just check online.
To make the cakes vegan suitable, use a non-dairy margarine instead of butter, replace each egg with 1 tbsp vegetable oil and use water or plant milk instead of cow’s milk.
Make it Allergy Friendly
This fairy cake recipe is free from nuts.
Gluten Free: Simply use a gluten free flour substitute instead of the flour. And ensure that the baking powder used is marked as gluten free.
Dairy Free: Replace the butter with a diary free substitute. A baking type margarine is just fine. Replace the milk with water or a plant based milk.
Egg Free: Replace each egg with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Easy Halloween Cupcakes
You can of course make cakes with a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon. This is still an absolutely valid way of doing it, especially for beginners. But you will get a lighter sponge with electrical assistance.
Generally I use a standard 12 hole muffin tin rather than a small bun tin. I think the higher sides of the muffin tin help to shape the cakes. It is important to use cake cases and not muffin cases or you will end up with behemoth cakes.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
You can make the cakes and freeze them before or after adding the icing. They will be much easier to freeze before. I wouldn’t add the eyes and sprinkles before freezing as they will likely run their colour when defrosting.
I wouldn’t recommend making the cakes any more than a day before you want to use them as they will start to dry and go stale. Keep them in an airtight container in the meantime.
Leftover Iced Fairy Cakes
If your cakes have gone over to the stale side, you can use my trick of microwaving them a little to freshen them up. Or you can microwave them fully or heat them through in the oven and serve them with cream or custard if you like.
The other option is to re-purpose the sponge. So you can use them as sponges in a trifle or turn them into crumbs and make Russian Slices.
In all of these instances I’d be inclined to scrape off the sprinkles first.
Easy Halloween Cupcakes Tips
Do not fill the cupcake cases with more than a heaped tsp of mixture (25g). I trialled several versions of this recipe and even though it looks like a tiny amount of mix, any more and the cakes rise above the rim of the cases. And this makes decorating them much messier.
You will have some mix leftover. You can use this to make some extra cakes if you wish. It isn’t really possible to make less or we start getting into 1/2 egg territory.
Make sure to add the lemon juice (or water) to the icing sugar a little at a time. You may need slightly less to achieve the right consistency. Sieving your icing sugar is also highly advisable to avoid lumps.
Embrace the fact that even being extremely careful, you will likely end up finding sprinkles for a few days. It’ll be fine.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
More Cake Recipes
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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Easy Halloween Cupcakes (Fairy Cakes Recipe)
- 120 g Salted Butter
- 120 g Caster Sugar (Superfine Sugar)
- 2 Egg
- 120 g Plain Flour (All Purpose)
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 tbsp Milk
- 150 g Icing Sugar (Confectioner’s Sugar)
- 3 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 24 Candy Googly Eyes
- 80 g Halloween Themed Sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 180c or equivalent. Put 12 paper cake cases into a muffin tin and set aside.
- Weigh 120g Butter and 120g Caster Sugar into a mixing bowl.
- Use an electric whisk or stand mixer to beat the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.
- Add 2 Eggs one at a time.
- Give the eggs at least one minute of beating before adding the next egg. This is where the batter gets lovely and light. Don’t worry if the batter splits. Keep going.
- Weigh 120g Plain Flour into the bowl and add 2 tsp Baking Powder and 1 tsp Vanilla Extract. Use a spatula to fold in the flour – you do not want to use any electric power here.
- Stir through 2 tbsp Milk.
- Use two teaspoons to add a heaped teaspoon of the batter into each cake case. Use the second spoon to push the mix off the first and into the cases. It will not look like much. If you want to make sure they’re even, you need 25g of batter in each case. It doesn’t look like enough but it is.
- Bake the cakes for 15 minutes. Take them out when golden brown and they spring back when pressed.
- Leave the cakes to completely cool.
- Mix 150g Icing Sugar with 3 tbsp Lemon Juice in a small mixing bowl. Add the juice one spoon at a time.
- You are looking for it to be a paste which just drops of a spoon slowly. It needs to be thin enough to make its own level but thick enough that it doesn’t run everywhere.
- Spoon roughly 1 tbsp of the icing over each cake. Gently smooth it over with a spatula or back of a spoon so it reaches the edges.
- Put the cakes onto a tray ready for decorating. The tray should catch and contain any runaway sprinkles.
- Place 2 Googly Eyes onto each cake.
- Sprinkle roughly 80g Halloween Themed Sprinkles over the cakes. I recommend putting the sprinkles into a small jug with a lip so you can be vaguely accurate.
- Try to ensure that all of the white icing is covered. You can gently press the sprinkles down with the palm of you hand then shake off any excess.
- You can occasionally collect any sprinkles from the tray and add them back to your shaking vessel.
- Once all 12 cake are decorated, they’re ready to serve!