There was never any cupcakes in our house when we were growing up, nor fairy cakes, nor queen cakes. But there were ‘wee buns’, and once, when I was very lucky, a single, perfect butterfly bun that had been kept in the fridge for me till I came home from school at 12. This was treats looked like in our house: small, rare, homely, unassuming.

Nowadays, when it comes to treats, everything in the wider world is topsy turvy; caught between the two poles of gargantuan, nose-covering cupcakes with salted caramel syringes stuck into them on the one hand, and the seemingly endless (and definitely joyless) crumbly healthy bites that have become so all pervasive in cafés and on Instagram, invariably heralded smugly with the bowing emoji and lots of exclamation marks.

But, if you want a treat that’s not unhealthy, why not just have a small version of a normal treat? I hear myself asking over and over again, in a small voice. Instead of making a whole rake of dried date and agave syrup balls, and blurring the boundaries between ‘treat’ and ‘overall lifestyle’ so that one becomes indistinguishable from the other, why not just eat a little bit of icing on a small homemade bun every so often instead? Why not just keep treats as treats?

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These cupcake & lime buns are definitely just that – a small, cheerful treat that would be ideal for a summer birthday or wedding or communion or afternoon tea in the garden on a rare sunny day.


Makes 12 small buns

For the buns

110g self-raising flour

110g caster sugar

110g butter, softened

Zest of a small lemon

Zest of a small lime

1 tsp lemon extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, beaten

For the icing

50g butter, softened

100g icing sugar

2 tbsp coconut cream (optional)

Zest of a lime

2tsp lime juice

50g coconut shards

Preheat your oven to 180ºc & line a muffin tray with cupcake cases. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale & fluffy. Add the lemon and lime zest & the extracts and beat in the eggs. Sieve in the flour and fold in gently. Spoon the mixture into the cases, allowing ew mabout a tablespoon of mixture for each one. Bake for around 15 minutes, or until nicely golden and well risen. Transfer to a cooling tray.

For the icing, mix the butter with the icing sugar and coconut cream (you’re looking for the thicker stuff in the container rather than the liquid). Add the lime zest, saving a little to garnish the top of the buns. Toast half of the coconut in the oven for a few minutes and mix with the remaining shards, crumble slightly and set aside. When the buns have cooled, spread about a teaspoon of the icing over each with a knife. Dunk them into the coconut shards and add a small pinch of lime zest to each before serving. Add sparklers for extra summer fun.


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