Search for the perfect cupcake - Desley Clark's Patty Cakes

Well before the cupcake phenomenon started to take over morning and afternoon tea and just about any time in between, there was a time honoured tradition of baking patty cakes.

Somewhat smaller that the average cupcake, patty cakes have been delighting Australian households with their delicate sweetness for generations. I remember standing at the kitchen table in my grandmother's kitchen while she showed me the finer points of baking. Always keep the spoons level, make sure the eggs are room temperature and grease the pan well were some of her tips to an eager ten-year-old.

If you hanker for the real thing head to St Lukes Anglican Church cake stall on Ekibin Road East every second Sunday from 8:30am to 9am and buy some of Desley Clarke's patty cakes. The church charges $3 per half dozen cakes, but you have to ask for Desley Clarke’s cakes by name and they go in minutes! The proceeds go to supporting ‘The Bush Mission’ for families in need in country areas (Tara and Leichhardt in Western Queensland).

Desley has been making the delectable mouthfuls since she was taught by her mother in law Aimee Clarke in 1952. Aimee was taught to cook these and many other fabulous recipes by her aunt Millicent Thompson who brought her up in Vulture Street South, Brisbane back in the days when that was a prime residential address rather than a freeway.

She makes them in vanilla, coffee or chocolate flavours and they can also be iced in passionfruit, coffee or chocolate butter icing for patties or vanilla butter icing for butterflies.

There are two secrets to these delicious cupcakes. One is a higher butter to flour ratio then most recipes which makes them moist and light. The other is strained passionfruit juice in the butter icing.

Desley has graciously agreed to share the recipe. If you can make these amazingly light and flavoursome cupcakes as well as she does, you'll have a real hit on your hands.

Desley Clarke's Patty Cakes

  • 127 grams of butter
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs (large)
  • 1 ½ cups S R flour (sifted three times)
  • ¼ cup milk

  • Cream butter and castor sugar in mixer
  • Add eggs one by one until combined
  • Add vanilla
  • Stop mixer and mix by hand flour and milk alternatively
  • Fill greased patty pans to just below the top and bake in 180 degrees oven for 14 minutes (fan forced)
  • Remove from tin and allow to cool
  • Ice with butter icing for patty cakes
  • For butterflies cut well in ½ in a shaped disc from the top and then cut in half
  • Fill the cavity with butter icing
  • Replace and top like wings and top with icing sugar 
Butter Icing

  • 75 grams of butter
  • 1 ¼ cups pure icing sugar