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Alzheimer’s Society Cupcake Day

This year’s annual Cupcake Day fundraiser is the perfect time to whip out your whisks and get mixing to help beat dementia. Alzheimer’s Society is calling on all bakers to cook up a storm to raise vital funds for people affected by dementia on Thursday, June 17.

Sue Hansard, 61, knows first-hand the devasting impact of dementia. Her mum, Mollie, from Leeds, had been an exceptional home baker, even making the wedding cake on Sue’s big day. But after Mollie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the baking she had once done instinctively gradually became out of reach. Even as Sue watched her wonderful mum, who had taught her all she knew, struggle to understand basic techniques, cakes were always the one way they shared experiences and smiles together.

Sue said, “One time when I was baking, I asked if she wanted to help. Mum looked blank, staring at the scales and the flour and not understanding. But she carefully decanted the ingredients and copied me to combine and knead the dough.

“The rolling pin and biscuit cutters puzzled her, but once in her hands, she rolled the dough deftly and enjoyed cutting out the shapes. Later, as we dunked our biscuits into a hot cup of tea, she was surprised and amazed to be told that she had made them! While it was lovely that we shared the experience of baking together, it was heartbreaking to watch her struggling to do something which she’d once taught me instinctively.” Before she sadly passed away two years ago, they spent many happy days visiting the local tearooms that Mollie loved.

“Our favourite trips was to Betty’s Tea Rooms in Harrogate, where we had a silver service lunch and cakes from the trolley. Mum loved it! “They are lovely memories but tinged in sadness. When my dad died in 2001, I imagined that trips out or weekend visits to stay, would become experiences I could share with mum. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s prevented us from doing many of these things, but I do feel blessed to have been able to develop a different relationship with her. My sister cared for mum around the clock, with my brother and I visiting as often as possible, and as a family we had to adjust our hopes and develop ever-changing ways of supporting Mum.”

As well as people with dementia being the worst hit in terms of deaths from coronavirus, the pandemic has made daily life so much harder. Many people living with dementia have reported that their symptoms have increased due to isolation in lockdown and carers have struggled with a lack of respite. So now is the time to dust off your bowls and turn up the heat on dementia. By getting together for Cupcake Day on June 17, you will help Alzheimer’s Society reach more people through our vital support services and help make sure no one faces dementia alone.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Makes 12

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes


50g unsalted butter, softened

150g caster sugar

50ml vegetable oil

1 large egg, beaten

100ml natural yoghurt or buttermilk

1 tsp white wine vinegar

150g plain flour, sifted

1 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp red food colouring

For the icing

100g unsalted butter, softened

225g icing sugar, sifted

½ tsp red food colouring

red sprinkles (optional)


Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan,

gas mark 5. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the oil, followed by the egg, yoghurt and vinegar.

Fold in the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and red food colouring, until you have a smooth batter.

Divide between the 12 paper cases and bake for 25 minutes, until lightly risen and springy to the touch. Remove the cakes from the tin and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Cream together the butter and icing sugar. Divide the mixture in half and add the red food colouring to one half. Spoon the red icing into one plastic piping bag and the white into another. Cut the ends of both and then place both of these together into a third piping bag with a star shaped nozzle. Pipe the icing onto the cooled cakes to give a two-tone topping and sprinkle with red sprinkles (optional).

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