Step 1 Preheat oven to 180°C.
To make cakes
Step 2 Use a mixer to beat the sugar and eggs together until pale and thick. The mixture should leave a trail when you lift the beater out and will be nearly treble its original size. Allow 5-8 minutes depending on how powerful your beater is (or your forearms).
Step 3 Using a metal spoon, fold in half the flour. When that is incorporated, fold in the remaining flour. Lastly, add the hot water and vanilla.
Step 4 Spoon the mixture into the prepared patty cases and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden and springy when gently pressed. Allow to cool completely before decorating.
To make icing
Step 5 Combine the ingredients, using only as much liquid as you need to make a spreadable icing. Ice the top of each cupcake and decorate as desired.
Step 6 A lolly pressed into the icing is the quickest possible decoration and the kids will be happy. Silver balls, sprinkles and ready-made edible decorations will also look lovely. I like to use the ready-made fondant icing 'Pettinice' (tinted, rolled and cut into shapes) for decorating my cup cakes.
To make butterfly cakes
Step 7 Allow cupcakes to cool completely, then use a sharp knife to slice a wedge out of the middle of each cake. Place a dab of jam or lemon curd in the crevasse, then cut the wedge in half through the middle and stick the two pieces into the jam so they stick out like wings. Dust with icing sugar. While they don’t really look like butterflies, they do look pretty and kids are attracted to them.