Hidden Hearts Cupcakes

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The perfect cake for someone you love – vanilla cupcakes with a hidden heart centre.

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The perfect cake for someone you love - vanilla cupcakes with a hidden heart centre.

With Mother’s Day fast approaching I’ve been challenged by We Bake to create something perfect for making with kids and what is more perfect that cupcakes covered in hearts with a secret heart inside.

These cupcakes are great for baking with little ones as they combine all the things my boys love about cooking… The cake mixture is really simple – put it all in a bowl and mix, you get to use cutters, you get to use food colour and best of all you get to use as many sprinkles as you possibly can to decorate the top.

We Bake is an online community for bakers of any level which rewards you for baking – think of it as a cross between Facebook and Instagram, but with lots of extra baking advice, inspiration and some fantastic baking competitions. I’ve been a member since it was launched back in November last year and I’ve been busy adding lots of cakes and bakes to my profile ever since. Setting up your profile is a piece of cake, so what are you waiting for. Once you’re done, let me know the link to your profile I’ll come a take a look at your delicious bakes.

The perfect cake for someone you love - vanilla cupcakes with a hidden heart centre.

The Mother’s Day Bake Brighter Days Challenge

One fantastic things about We Bake is the challenges. They have regular challenges where you have to share a bake along a particular theme, with the best entries winning a prize (and they have some really amazing prizes). Their latest challenge is the Mother’s Day Bake Brighter Days Challenge where they want you to get creative with your little ones, baking something perfect for Mother’s Day and share it in the We Bake community.

Every day the competition is running they’re giving away a £50 Red Letter Days Voucher, so there are lots of chances to win if you enter.

My entry for the Mother’s Day Bake Brighter Days Challenge is these hidden hearts cupcakes. Now you may be surprised to know that I decorated most of the cupcakes here myself (cheating I know as it’s a baking with kids competition, but I do love my cakes to look pretty 🙂 ). I did however make another batch with my boys and we had a great time making the sponge, cutting out the hearts and then decorating them together (and trying to stop them eating all the sprinkles before they were put on the cakes!).

Customise your cupcakes

I chose to make my hidden hearts cupcakes with vanilla sponge as I thought the red centre would stand out well against the light vanilla sponge. However, if you fancy a different flavour then you could easily make the outside sponge in another flavour such as chocolate (this recipe would be perfect). I’d recommend keeping the hidden hearts as vanilla though, as that way you can ensure that you’ll be able to see the lovely red colour or whatever colour is your favourite.

The perfect cake for someone you love - vanilla cupcakes with a hidden heart centre.

To decorate my cupcakes I used vanilla buttercream and the boys used some Dr. Oetker Easy Swirl Cupcake Icing in both pink and white, which you just squirt onto the cakes using a choice of nozzles that come with the icing. We then decorated our cupcakes with a selection of Dr. Oetker Chocolate Hearts, Dr. Oetker Fairy Princess sprinkles and Dr. Oetker Red Regal Icing cut into little hearts and letters. I used these cutters for the hearts (it’s nice they have them in a few different sizes) and these for the letters.

If you decide to make the letters, sprinkle your cutter with a little icing sugar (this helps to stop them sticking in the cutter), cut them out and then leave them to harden before attempting to put them onto the cakes. That way they’re more likely to keep their shape.

There’s no reason to stick to hearts in the centre too, any simplish small shape can be added to the middle of your cupcakes. You could add stars… flowers… the Batman symbol!

Customise your cupcakes with chocolate hearts or sprinkles

Hidden Hearts Cupcakes

The perfect cake for someone you love – vanilla cupcakes with a hidden heart centre.
Active Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes


For the pink sponge

  • 110 g self-raising flour
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 110 g soft margarine - or butter
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp Dr. Oetker Baking Powder
  • tsp Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp milk
  • Dr. Oetker Bright Red Gel Food Colour

For the white sponge

  • 165 g self-raising flour
  • 165 g caster sugar
  • 165 g soft margarine
  • 3 medium eggs
  • tsp Dr. Oetker Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla Extract
  • tsp milk
  • 12 muffin or cupcake cases

To decorate

  • Vanilla buttercream or any other flavour you fancy or some Dr. Oetker Easy Swirl Cupcake Icing
  • Chocolate hearts, heart sprinkles or red fondant (and heart cutters)


Make the pink vanilla sponge

  • Pre-heat your oven to 160ºC/140ºC fan.
  • Line a 20cm round baking tin (or similar size) with greaseproof paper or non-stick baking tray liners.
  • Put all (except the food colour) of the pink sponge ingredients (110g self-raising flour, 110g caster sugar, 110g soft margarine, 2 medium eggs, 1 tsp Dr. Oetker Baking Powder, 1 tsp milk, ⅛ tsp Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla Extract) into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  • Once combined add a little Dr. Oetker Bright Red Gel Food Colour and mix. Keep adding a little more until your mixture is the desired colour – you’ll need the colour to be quite bold in order to stand out in the middle of the cake.
  • Pour into your lined baking tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Once cooked remove the cake from the oven. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then remove it from the tin and leave to cool completely before making the white sponge.
  • Once the pink sponge has cooled use a heart cutter to carefully cut out 12 hearts from the sponge.

Make the white vanilla sponge

  • Pre-heat your oven to 160ºC/140ºC fan.
  • Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  • Put all white sponge ingredients (165g self-raising flour, 165g caster sugar, 165g soft margarine, 3 medium eggs, 1½ tsp Dr. Oetker Baking Powder, 1½ tsp milk, ¼ tsp Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla Extract) into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  • Spoon ½ a tablespoon of your mixture into each muffin case. Place a pink cake heart into each one, pushing it down so it’s right at the bottom. Add another ½ a tablespoon into each case, using the back of the spoon to carefully spread it around the heart.
    how to put a hidden heart inside a cupcake. Cupcake case half filled with vanilla cake mix. Then it a pink heart in the centre and then topped with more vanilla cake mix.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool before decorating.
  • Decorate with buttercream and sprinkles and enjoy!


You will have some pink sponge leftover as it’s impossible to use it all and still make nice heart shapes. This makes a lovely treat for your little chefs and stops them trying to eat all the cupcakes while they’re decorating them!
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a comment and rating at the bottom of the page to let others know what you thought.

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Nutritional Information

Calories: 291kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 195mg | Potassium: 130mg | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 14.7% | Calcium: 5.3% | Iron: 3.4%
Any nutritional information shown is the estimated nutritional information per serving. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you want to learn more about how this is calculated.

This is the estimated nutritional information per cupcake (excluding icing).

The perfect cake for someone you love - vanilla cupcakes with a hidden heart centre.

Free From/Suitable For…

The ingredients I used to make this recipe are all free from the following allergens. However, please check any labels carefully for allergens you need to avoid as brands can vary and product recipes can change over time.

  • Suitable for Vegetarians
  • Tree Nut-Free
  • Peanut-Free
  • Sesame-Free
  • Sulphur Dioxide & Sulphite-Free
  • Lupin-Free

The cupcakes are soya-free, however the Dr. Oetker Chocolate Hearts shown contain soya. If you need to avoid soya then select an alternative decoration.

The perfect cake for someone you love - vanilla cupcakes with a hidden heart centre.

I’m sharing this recipe with the following blog challenges… #CookBlogShare with Hijacked by Twins, #LoveCake with JibberJabberUK and #TreatPetite with The Baking Explorer and CakeyBoi.


  1. Could you please leave the ingredients in cup sizes… thankyou 🙂

    • I have updated the recipe to include these now. Click on where it says “US Cups/Ounces” underneath the ingredients list to change them from grams.

  2. These are gorgeous Charlotte, so so pretty! Thank you for linking up with #TreatPetite

  3. Thank you for entering these into #TreatPetite. They are super cute and great to know how the heart got added 🙂

  4. They are so sweet! What a lovely surprise to bite in to. I’m just thinking of the other shapes you could use as well.

  5. I love hidden surprises in cakes and these look so pretty. I have included these cakes in my BritMums baking round up which will be live at the weekend. Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x

  6. I love these Charlotte, they’re so so pretty! I’ve always been intregued by how to create such an effect, and now I know just how easy it is! Thankyou 🙂 ….though out of curiosity, does the double baked pink sponge not become over baked or is it protected by the vanilla sponge during the second bake?
    Angela xx
    PS, pinned for later

    • I was worried that it would but it was fine (although I have no idea why!), not too dry and still with a nice vanilla flavour.

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