Some of my foodie friends say that cupcakes are passé. They say that French macarons, or even whoopee pies, have taken treat-trend’s center stage.

 There is a grain of truth in their proclamations, but I still see giddy cupcake customers lining up to buy these oodles-of-frosting topped little cakes.  Seductive? Yes, but I see them as practical, a way for home bakers to create desserts for large parties without having to spend a king’s ransom.

 This is especially true for those baking for a home wedding (or even bridal showers). Wedding cakes have big price tags and homemade cupcakes can be a money-saving solution.

I guess that’s why Joanna Farrow’s new book, “Wedding Cupcakes,” (Spruce/Octopus, $12.99), caught my eye.

It’s not one of those pricy volumes that weigh more than my terrier. It’s a petite, 64-page stunner with a full-page photo on every-other page.

It was the cover-shot that initially hooked me. The cupcake looks elegant, but not fussy. The frosting, an amoeba-esque puddle that looks like the baker simply dropped it in place, is topped with two side-by-side dragees (sugared almonds) with a pesticide-free sugared pansy nestled between them. A white organza ribbon forms a bow around the cakes paper-pleated waistline. It’s exquisite. That’s when the Martha Stewart moment ebbed, and I thumbed through the book to find renditions that wouldn’t require a chorus line of volunteers to “sugarize” fresh flowers; to paint egg white on fragile petals with soft-bristled brushes before sprinkling them with so-very-very-lightly with superfine sugar.

The Country Wedding cupcakes seemed more realistic. The charming little cakes are topped with small sprigs of fresh lavender that are tied with lilac checkered ribbon. Or the White Chocolate and Frosted Fruit cupcakes adorned with fresh berries and lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

And I loved photo of the tiered white-frosted cupcakes with shiny, deep green leaves used as filler between the simple cakes. It’s a lovely arrangement in which fresh bay leaves mingle with fresh limes and white roses. The foliage, fruit and roses that tuck around the treats make the undecorated cakes look splendid.

A closer look revealed a fresh jalapeno or two peeking out between a leaf and a lime. That might work if either the bride or groom is a chili fanatic, otherwise I might leave out the peppers (even though they are the perfect color of green).

 Anne Byrn, author of “Cupcakes! From The Cake Doctor” (Workman, $13.95) says that undecorated, cooled cupcakes can be frozen for several weeks in sturdy plastic containers. “Or, if freezer space is tight, flash freeze them on baking sheets and (once frozen) store them in plastic freezer bags,” she writes. “Open the bag of cupcakes to let moisture out, then thaw the cupcakes on the kitchen counter before frosting.”

 As for the frosting brigade, sounds like a good time to call in IOU’s from friends and neighbors. A last-minute team effort is just the ticket.   Author Joanna Farrow writes that these vanilla cupcakes are best baked the day before decorating. “Once frosted, they’ll keep for another couple of days. If making any earlier, freeze in rigid containers, then thaw before decorating. Use two 12-cup muffin pans, baking those on the lower shelf of the oven for a few extra minutes if necessary. If making larger quantities, mix and bake them in separate batches.”

 Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes
2 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 eggs
2 2/3 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons milk
1. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper baking cups and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat with a handheld electric mixer until smooth, creamy, and pale in color.
2. Divide among the baking cups, filling them about two-thirds full, and bake for about 25 minutes until risen and just firm to the touch. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes; transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
Nutrition information (per cupcake): 140 calories, 45 percent of calories from fat, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 17 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 80 mg sodium, 0.2g fiber
Source: “Wedding Cupcakes” by Joanna Farrow (Spruce, $12.99)

Flavor Variations
Lemon: Omit the vanilla. Add the finely grated zest of 4 lemons and use lemon juice instead of milk.
Rose: Use 2 teaspoons rose water instead of the vanilla.
Almond: Replace 1/2 cup flour with 1 cup (100 g) ground almonds and use 2 teaspoons almond extract instead of the vanilla.
White chocolate: Reduce the superfine sugar to 1 cup and stir in 7 ounces melted white chocolate once mixed.

These little cakes are perfect for an informal wedding or shower. Ice and add the lavender bundles the day before the event.

Country Wedding Cupcakes
8 cups powdered sugar
1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Lilac food coloring, if using
2 quantities (48) Vanilla Cupcakes (recipe included) baked in a mixture of white and lilac baking cups
Plenty of lavender sprigs and 15 yards (14 m) fine lilac ribbon, cut into 11-inch (28-cm) lengths
1. To make the icing, mix powdered sugar with enough lemon juice to make a smooth glaze that is not quite thick enough to hold its shape when the spoon is lifted from the bowl. (Add the lemon juice cautiously once nearly mixed so you don’t over-thin the icing.) Stir in a little lilac food coloring if using.
2. Spread the icing over the cakes with a spatula so that it just starts to run over the sides of the cakes. (If it’s too runny, work in a little more powdered sugar; if it’s too thick to spread, add a dash more lemon juice.)
3. Tie the lavender sprigs together in twos with the ribbon and press gently onto the icing.

 Source: “Wedding Cupcakes” by Joanna Farrow (Spruce, $12.99)