Now is a very good time for raspberries.

I haven’t had much in the way of pregnancy cravings – tinned tomatoes have been the worst of it, and thankfully they don’t tend to end up in desserts – but this week, raspberries became the beaded scarlet berries of the gods themselves, and I could not eat enough of them. Hence, when it came to weekend baking, I went straight to the ‘r’ section of all of my cookbooks.

I chose, in the end, the erroneously named raspberry cupcakes, a recipe I inherited from a friend after falling in love with the pale, fruity little cakes she brought in one Monday morning. They’re erroneously named because, according to my own hazy cakery classification system, they’re not really cupcakes. No swirly frosting, no nicely rounded top. Perhaps they’re technically closer to muffins, although in deference to my native Northern tongue, I’d just call them buns.

Whatever they are, they’re not hard to put together. The surprising element of this recipe is the entire carton of full-fat cream cheese you put in at the beginning, along with caster sugar, vanilla essence, eggs, milk and flour. You’re supposed to cream all of the ingredients together with an electric mixer. I was so delighted at actually owning the suggested kitchen appliance in the recipe for once (albeit a little handheld version, not a freestanding mixer) that I enjoyed the preparation even more than usual.

Once all the ingredients are incorporated, you end up with a thick, creamy-coloured mixture that sticks to the whisk and looks a bit like vanilla custard.

Then in goes four tablespoons of raspberry jam, plus as many fresh raspberries as your little heart desires.


Pleasingly, the recipe asks you to fill up your cupcake cases using an ice cream scoop (why? They don’t specify, but it does work well), then they go in the oven for 25 minutes or so. A bit of sieved icing sugar on the top finishes them off nicely, though as usual I miscalculated the size of my sieve and drowned my cupcakes in clouds of white powder before I could stop myself.

The cupcakes come out pale and flat-topped, speckled with red and sunken in places where the raspberries have been. The cream cheese is the stroke of genius here: it gives the cakes a dense, squishy texture and a smooth taste that’s nicely distinct from your average sponge. Every now and again you come across an explosion of fruit in the middle – the explosion being literal if you’re too greedy to wait till they’re cold, as we were – which was so lovely I wished I’d put in even more raspberries.

The downside is that they’re not especially pretty: a world away from the buttercream-covered masterpieces you see at weddings, and not likely to produce a gasp of admiration when you unveil them at a dinner party. But that sort of thing matters less when they taste good enough to eat ten at a sitting. Honest.

Box o' delights.

Deliciousness: Not only is the cake itself very moreish, the amount of fruit in each cupcake surely makes these healthy. A bonus.

Complexity: Not hard at all, if you’ve got the specified ice cream scoop.

Washing-up pile: Twelve. Quite a lot, actually.

Casualties: One burnt mouth apiece. But that was more self-inflicted than otherwise.