Post image for Cupcake Day for the RSPCA 2010

Cupcake Day for the RSPCA 2010

August 17, 2010 · 82 comments

On Aug. 16, 1977, Elvis Presley died at Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tenn., at age 42. As most people know, Elvis was an animal lover. Barely a day went by when he wasn’t busy giving gift hampers to disadvantaged hounds, sharing his hard earned beer with a thirsty furry friend, being creative with tulle to help smuggle puppies into the US to start a new life, teaching young chimps how to read or lending his time to the frustrating panda breeding program at his local zoo.

Elvis’ love of food is also known far and wide, with such heart-stoppingly impressive dishes as the Fool’s Gold Loaf (shown here on Spicks and Specks) part of his diet. Given these two great loves of Elvis’, it is no wonder that the 2010 Cupcake Day for the RSPCA fell on Monday 16 August this year. Across the country, amidst the gyration of hips and coiffing of hair, people also honoured the memory of the King by coming together in mass consumption of cupcakes to raise money for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

"How I Spent My Sunday" by Conor

After the success of last year’s Cupcake Day for the RSPCA, when we raised around $230, I was excited about getting involved again this year and started the baking planning a few weeks ago. I decided to be a little more inclusive with my cupcakes this year and added a vegan and a gluten-free option to the cakes on offer. The vegan cupcake was a no-brainer after trying out the recipe in my last post and being blown away by how good it was. Making the gluten-free cupcakes was a great opportunity to use the Vitarium Gluten-Free Plain Flour that they recently sent me, and I decided to try out a gluten-free version (please see end of post for recipe) of my tried-and-true carrot cupcakes. Finally, I decided to make the non-vegan, glutony banana macadamia cupcakes that I made for last year’s sale as they were quite popular.

When designing the decorations for each of the cupcakes I discovered just how difficult it is to be either vegan or gluten intolerant, and God help you if you are both. For the vegan cupcakes I settled on icing them in a similar way to when I first made them, but with the addition of some fancy looking candied kumquats. After discovering to my joy that m&ms are gluten-free, and that it is possible to find gluten-free marshmallows, I settled on turning the carrot cupcakes into gluten-free chickens and pigs. The banana macadamia ones were destined to be monkeys, owls and pigs.

Ready for the hordes! One owl seems to have flown off in the confusion though..

Although the sale itself was over far more quickly than I was expecting, much fun was had – there’s just something so great about seeing academics getting excited over cupcakes, particularly little animal ones. After two colleagues contributed their own baking creations I had over 80 cupcakes to sell and they were gone in around 15 minutes. Sadly many people had to be turned away, and I could probably have sold twice as many if I had them.

A number of people also gave very generous additional donations, and I was really happy when I counted the money after all was said and done, and found that $352.30 had been raised in total! For those of you who either came down to contribute, or sent money along with others, thank you so much for supporting this cause and I hope to see you all again next year. Oh and thanks to my photographer for the day, the cupcake loving Lil deVious.

RIP Elvis, I bet you could have polished off all 80.

After 15 minutes. I think I'm in the wrong profession.

Gluten-free Carrot Cupcakes

Adapted from The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook

Makes 24 (I only made half a batch for the sale)


  • 2 cups gluten-free plain flour
  • 4 tsp gluten-free baking powder (if you can’t find GF baking powder, you can make your own by using one of two standard suggestions: either [1 tsp bicarb soda and 2 1/2 tsp cream of tartar] OR [2 tsp cream of tartar and 1 tsp bicarb soda and 1 tsp rice flour])
  • NOTE: if using gluten-free self-raising flour then omit the baking powder and just use the 2 cups of self-raising. You still need to add the following bicarb though.
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 0.5 Tb ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/3 cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2.5 cups firmly packed peeled grated carrot
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 0.5 cup sultanas
  • zest of an orange
  • zest of a lemon

This photo makes me want to dunk the carrot into the coffee for some reason


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake papers.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, bicarb of soda and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the vegetable oil, brown sugar and eggs using an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat for about 5 minutes until thick and creamy.
  4. Add the grated carrot, chopped walnuts, sultanas and zests. Beat on low speed until combined.
  5. Add the flour mixture and beat until thoroughly combined; do not overbeat as this will toughen the mixture.
  6. Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, filling until about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes immediately from the trays and cool on a cake rack for at least 30 minutes before icing them.

Moist to the maxx


  • The gluten-free flour is much more fine than normal flour so you might want to make sure you don’t have any fans blowing/sneezes brewing/nice black clothes on when using it;
  • The cupcakes still rose nicely, had a good crumb and tasted as good as normal. They did sink just a little once cooled though, which I don’t recall the non-GF ones doing. Due to this, don’t be stingy when filling up the cupcake papers to 3/4.
  • Overall I was really quite impressed with using the GF flour. I wasn’t sure at all how this recipe would work with the substitution, and the end product certainly didn’t seem to differ from the normal carrot cupcakes apart for the very slight sinking. All reports from the tasters were favourable.
  • When decorating gluten-free cupcakes, you obviously have to be very careful with your selection of icing and topping ingredients – it really is amazing just how many things have wheat in them! It’s all fun and games until a guest comes down with a crook belly, so read your labels.


As pointed out by Agnes, this post was sorely lacking in technical drawings of the cupcakes. True to form, I actually had drawn up such plans but either totally forgot to post them, or thought I’d pretend I’m not quite the dork I am. I just can’t stand the look of disappointment on her face though so here ’tis:

Cupcake blueprints - looking quite zombie-like with their white eyes

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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

mademoiselle délicieuse August 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I love it that your cute animal cupcakes have made a repeat appearance. Just out of interest, what happens to the Oreo cookie tops from the owls’ eyes?
mademoiselle délicieuse´s last blog post ..Big Brekky the third- 12 April 2009


Conor August 18, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Back by popular demand! Not at all due to having no brain power to come up with new ideas, I swear.

Umm… well some of the tops are used for the eyebrow feather bits and the rest are put in a Ziploc bag that is kept next to my tea on the kitchen bench and then disappear. Seemingly by the handful. Perhaps next to them is a bowl of leftover chocolate frosting that goes just perfectly with the leftover bits of cookie. Maybe.


Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite August 17, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Congrats on a successful bake sale Conor – though I never had any doubts that you would not do an amazing job. I LOVE that you were able to work with food intolerences and still produce wonderful looking and tasting treats. Cleo here approved heartily though wonders where the cat cupcakes are…
Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite´s last blog post ..California Road Trip 2010- Gold Country


Conor August 18, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Thank you very much Mardi! It was quite a bit more satisfying to produce the range of options, though also stressful being so paranoid about contaminating the GF ones with any gluten, or the vegan ones with any animal products. I am so happy that Cleo approves.. I didn’t mention it but my main motivation with all of this was to gain her approval. Thank God I got it.


Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite August 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Cleo says “I know sarcasm when I read it. But I am seriously glad you were able to raise money for a cause close to my heart.”
Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite´s last blog post ..CIA Greystone- Wine Spectator Restaurant St Helena


Conor August 18, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Cleo needs no stinking sarcasm font! Ah, she’s a canny one. You can’t let the cute appearance fool you.


Steph August 17, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Awww hurray all the animal cupcakes are back this year!! Seriously awesome effort Conor! Now I’m feeling super super guilty for not getting off my lazy bum and doing it this year :( Very impressive money pile for 15 mins! Haha imagine if it was a weekly stall for non-charity purposes, so many money piles!


Conor August 18, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Thanks heaps Steph! No need for guilt!
Oh I know, I kept thinking about how big the pile of cash would be for a whole day’s worth of selling. I might be able to swim in it, just like Scrooge.


ylenate August 17, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Amazing cupcakes – they really look adorable. I know also that you can buy gluten free licorice at the IGA at Broadway shopping center.


Conor August 18, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Thank you! Good to know for next time I’m making such things. Licorice is very handing when decorating.


penny aka jeroxie August 17, 2010 at 8:25 pm

OMG! All so pretty! Ok.. now you have inspired me to make animals one for next year and also cater for vegans :)


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:18 am

Thanks Penny! Animals all round! I wonder if vegan cupcakes are still vegan if they are decorated like animals? :)


Mary August 17, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Those cupcakes are so great!! Just found your blog and soooo happy I did!!!

Mary xo
Delightful Bitefuls
Mary´s last blog post ..Banana &amp Butterscoth Muffin Tops


Evelyne@cheapethniceatz August 18, 2010 at 12:53 am

What a great cause to get involved in. Kudos for all your work, volunteered time and effort. And I now hereby name you Cute Cup Cake Queen!
Evelyne@cheapethniceatz´s last blog post ..Sesame Leaves


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:21 am

Hooray, thanks Evelyne! You’re too kind!


jess August 18, 2010 at 3:07 am

I definitely agree – you are in the wrong profession!
These are amazing.

I think if I had to chose one I would get the owl
jess´s last blog post ..Curried Eggs


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:28 am

Thanks Jess :) The owls were definitely a favourite – you get so much cookie to eat as well as the cupcake!


Forager @ The Gourmet Forager August 18, 2010 at 10:33 am

Gone in 15 minutes! That’s testament to how amazing they look! I woulda bought one for sure :)
Forager @ The Gourmet Forager´s last blog post ..Of genetics- fast cars and good wine


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:31 am

Thanks! I woulda totally sold you one ;)


Hannah August 18, 2010 at 10:45 am

What was so frustrating about the pandas? Did they refuse to eat their bamboo or post for photos with tourists? Or was it more sinister than that? Did they try to grope old ladies or something?

Musings aside, I think I died a little when I saw how cute those owl cupcakes are. You constantly amaze me with your amazingness. Because you’re amazingful. REALLY.

(P.S. I love your shirt :) )
Hannah´s last blog post ..My Magical Gift Bag From Grab Your Fork


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:36 am

Hannah they just don’t like to get it on. Too tired from all that bamboo chomping, or having a fat day, or something. I don’t know. Is it really that much to ask of them? I can only hope it’s not due to them being more interested in groping old ladies.

No no, it is you who is amazingful. Nay, amazingly amazee.

I’ll be sure to bring you an owl when I drive my new car across the country. I’ll also wear this shirt :)


Hannah August 20, 2010 at 9:13 am

That’s a relief. I probably wouldn’t be able to recognise you otherwise! And on ym part, I’ll stand on the side of the road outside my place with a drawing of pandas groping grandmas, so you’ll know who I am.
Hannah´s last blog post ..Macarons by Grab Your Fork


Ellie (Almost Bourdain) August 18, 2010 at 10:57 am

Lovely cupcakes for a great occasions! Very well done.
Ellie (Almost Bourdain)´s last blog post ..Brioche


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:37 am

Thanks Ellie! Any cupcake occasion is good, but yes this was a great one :)


Maria@TheGourmetChallenge August 18, 2010 at 11:05 am

lol @ Elvis!! way too funny!!

Those cupcakes look delicous. I’d feel a bit sad eating the chickens face, but think of all the happiness I would feel once the sugar hit my veins. Oh yes!
Maria@TheGourmetChallenge´s last blog post ..White bean velouté with salsa verde and candied pancetta


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:38 am

Hehe :)
Don’t fear, all the animals were eager to be eaten. They were smiling as they were chomped. And really, eating a chicken’s face has got to be better than eating its parson’s nose right? :s


Celeste @ Berrytravels August 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Impressive! I adore the cupcake decorations – super super cute and very apt for the RSPCA day! My faves are the owls. They look super cute!
Celeste @ Berrytravels´s last blog post ..Review- Madam Kay’s Platz


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:39 am

Thanks Celeste :) Wish I could make one fly to you!


Agnes August 18, 2010 at 4:48 pm

They look great, Conor, but I have an issue.

Last year, there were technical drawings (which were pretty good, if we disregard the fact that they weren’t to scale). This year – no technical drawings to be seen. Highly disappointed. Think of that look on your mother’s face when you did something naughty and she was disappointed in you – that look is on my face right now.

Hope that you make up for it next year. I’ll remember!



Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:49 am

Oh Agnes… I think you might need to read the (possibly updated) post again ;)

I can’t handle that look! Make it stop!


Agnes August 19, 2010 at 11:07 am

Whoohooo! The disappointed look is over – it’s now the proud look. Go Conor!
Agnes´s last blog post ..Parisian Patisserie Boulangerie


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Hooray!! :D


Karen Harris August 18, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Conor, you are definitely a cupcake artist. I agree, you are in the wrong profession if you sold out in 15 minutes. As for Elvis, I know he loved his down home food, but I did not know that he was such an animal lover.


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:51 am

Thanks Karen :) I guess he wasn’t such a lover of pigs though, given his diet.


Cajun Chef Ryan August 18, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Conor, great event!
I was not aware that the typical baking powder contained gluten.



Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:51 am

Thanks Ryan! I had no idea either. Once you start reading labels, it is really quite incredible how many things contain wheat. I feel so much more sympathetic for coeliac sufferers now!


Kirstine Vergara August 19, 2010 at 12:50 am

Those cupcakes look amazing! I’m glad you were able to raise money in no time.
Now you’ve inspired me to try baking again. I think I’m gong to try making those cute pandas and owls for my son. =)


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:53 am

Thanks Kirstine! Oh, please do, they are such fun to make for children (although really, I often find that adults get more excited over such things… kids can be so blasé with cool stuff!)


Patty Price August 19, 2010 at 8:15 am

I love these sweet little animal cupcakes! Hey, not bad for a day’s work, now you just have to figure out to make them faster so you can make twice as many, lol! Congratulations on your success and for contributing to such a worthwhile cause;-)


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:56 am

Thanks Patty! The thought of making twice as many is not awfully scary, but the thought of carrying twice as many is! Thanks very much :)


panamahat August 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

Top work!!


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Thank you! I’ll make some for you one day, I promise :)


denise @ quickies on the dinner table August 19, 2010 at 11:41 am

Awwww – you brought back my absolute favourite – piggy! *oink oink* Well done Conor!!! Glad the sale was a resounding success, as if it could’ve ever been anything else!
denise @ quickies on the dinner table´s last blog post ..Just Pointing in the General Direction


Conor August 19, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Just for you, Denise :) I’m tempted to bring him back regularly just to get you oinking some more.
Thank you!


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella August 19, 2010 at 6:08 pm

haha just gorgeous! I knew you’d do a great job after all I remember your amazing efforts last year! Soooo are you thinking of changing jobs? :P


Conor August 19, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Thanks Lorraine :) Umm…. maybe ask me again next year. Am pretty determined to get this damn PhD finished! I can’t change jobs until I become Dr Conor!


Simply Life August 19, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Oh my gosh, look at all those cupcakes! I want to eat my computer screen! :)
Simply Life´s last blog post ..French Onion Soup in Our New Bowls!


Conor August 19, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Thank you! Although, I don’t think I can endorse the eating of electronics. I can only hope a magical cupcake might fly between your mouth and the screen in the nick of time.


Arwen from Hoglet K August 20, 2010 at 12:19 am

How exciting to hear that M&Ms are gluten free – and here I’ve been not eating them for a couple of years now! You made a smart choice with carrot cake for the gluten free flour. I’ve had better luck converting moist fruity recipes. Your designs are gorgeous. I love your piggies best of all, and thanks for including the technical drawings!


Conor August 20, 2010 at 10:33 am

Those pesky crispy ones are packing a gluten punch though, hidden in their candy coating.
Thanks, I thought this would be a good plan of attack after reading a few reviews of converting normal cake recipes to GF ones! Thanks very much, glad my dorkiness is appreciated!


Bryt August 20, 2010 at 12:40 am

I love love love the piggies!! It’s great that you get involved with the RSPCA :)
And thanks for adding my blog to your blogroll, really appreciate it. When I saw that, I set up my own to do the same for others.


Conor August 20, 2010 at 10:34 am

Thanks Bryt! I wish I had more time to devote to such causes.
You’re welcome, glad to have you on there. Thanks for having me on yours :)


Julia @ Mélanger August 20, 2010 at 5:11 am

Fantastic. What an effort. I especially like the sketches and plans of the designs! Well done in your fund raising effort!!!
Julia @ Mélanger´s last blog post .. Dairy-free- egg-free- nut-free oat crunch biscuits


Conor August 20, 2010 at 10:36 am

Thank you Julia! :)


Cakelaw August 20, 2010 at 6:42 am

What gorgeous cuppies! And such a wonderful cause. Great job Conor – and the fact that you made gluten free and vegan versions gets extra kudos.
Cakelaw´s last blog post ..TWD – Oatmeal Breakfast Bread


Conor August 20, 2010 at 10:37 am

Thanks very much :) I should start calling them cuppies, seeing as it rhymes so nicely with puppies.


alloronan August 20, 2010 at 7:04 am

Those are unspeakably cute, almost too cute to eat! I especially love the owls with their enoooouuuuurmous eyes :D I’ll definitely have to try the gluten free method!


Conor August 20, 2010 at 10:40 am

Nooo never too cute to eat! Hehe, thank you! The eyes are especially tasty ;)


Betty @ The Hungry Girl August 20, 2010 at 7:11 am

Aww love the cupcakes!! So creative. I love your masterplan too – well done!


Conor August 20, 2010 at 10:41 am

Thanks Betty!!!


Liz @ Breakfast in Perth August 20, 2010 at 7:47 am

Nice work Conor!

Also – thanks for putting up this gluten free recipe. My sister has coeliacs and would really like this recipe. I have made a banana cake at home with the gluten free flour and it still tasted the same! I had a test for coeliacs last week (apparently it runs in families)… I am dreading the result. What will I do if I can’t eat what I want!!!
Liz @ Breakfast in Perth´s last blog post ..Breakfast at Home


Conor August 20, 2010 at 10:43 am

Cheers Liz! Nice work on the banana cake. I might have to give this flour a try with my banana cupcake recipe. I’ll cross my fingers for your test results! At least these days things seem to be getting slightly better for sufferers, with more GF products and options on offer. Let me know how you go!


Pam August 20, 2010 at 10:25 am

Your cupcakes look so cute and tasty – Elvis would be proud.
Pam´s last blog post ..Moo Shu Pork


Conor August 20, 2010 at 10:44 am

Thanks Pam, I like to think he’d eat a batch or two :)


5 Star Foodie August 20, 2010 at 10:51 am

The cupcakes look terrific, such creative decorations! Thanks for sharing the recipe!
5 Star Foodie´s last blog post ..Cold Hot Chocolate


Conor August 22, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Thanks very much! My pleasure :)


tasteofbeirut August 21, 2010 at 2:49 am

You just convinced me that I need to bake some carrot cupcakes as well for my dad’s birthday party on sunday; they sound so easy, look so good and so moist!!!!!Yummy . Did not know all these things about Elvis.


Conor August 22, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I hope your Dad had a great party and your cakes turned out as well as the rest of your cooking always does :)


MaryMoh August 21, 2010 at 5:17 am

Oh wow….beautiful cupcakes ad for a wonderful cause! Conor, you are just amazing! Thanks for sharing about Elvis.
MaryMoh´s last blog post ..How To Make Egg Noodles At Home


Conor August 22, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Thanks Mary, you’re very sweet! My pleasure!


Iron Chef Shellie August 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I think you are in the wrong profession!! well done, i’ll have to do it next year.
Iron Chef Shellie´s last blog post ..International Incident Party – Scones


Conor August 22, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Maybe there can be a scone day for the RSPCA next year Shellie ;)


Xiaolu August 23, 2010 at 4:20 am

What a great cause and how amazing do those GF carrot cupcakes look? Great job with this fundraiser!
Xiaolu´s last blog post ..White Chocolate Sour Cherry Scones


Conor August 24, 2010 at 10:45 am

Thanks very much Xiaolu!


Ladybird August 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Well done! :) I had a big RSPCA cupcake sale too!
Ladybird´s last blog post ..White Chocolate &amp Raspberry Cheesecake


Conor August 24, 2010 at 10:46 am

Thank you :) Your cupcakes are just brilliant! Well done to you too!


Lily @ gourmetorange September 27, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Very cute & creative cupcake designs !! I love mr OWL .. great work for a great cause !!


Conor September 27, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Thanks Lily! I think Mr Owl is my favourite too :)


Cath November 6, 2010 at 1:59 pm

What fabulous creations! And for such a great cause too. Well done.
Cath´s last blog post ..Chocolate America!


Conor November 7, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Thanks very much Cath :)


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