Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Vanilla Cupcake with Buttercream Frosting

I love cupcakes, just love them. Adore them, in fact. They are the perfect size and shape, and are fun to eat! When using wholesome and natural ingredients, they come to life in your mouth because they are less sickly sweet than what comes from the store or box.

I've been inspired to make cupcakes because our local newspaper has done a feature of cupcakes every year for the last two years. The recipes the wrote about were simple and easy, I thought let's give it a whirl. It is so worth it -- these cupcakes taste amazing.

So I bought two amazing Wilton Ultra-Bake muffin pans, which I highly recommend for their incredible baking ability and non-stick feature without being Teflon and got to baking. I decided to go for a simple cupcake that everyone could enjoy so I went with Vanilla cupcakes and a buttercream frosting. Buttercream frostings are so out of style, mainly because I think people do not know how to make them appropriately. Instead of being light and fluffy (as fluffy as butter can get that is) they're heavy and dense but a few tips will straighten that out.

The recipes below are great because you get a wonderful, light cupcake that is not too sweet. The buttercream frosting and cake go together and melt in your mouth as they should.

Cupcake Basics by Amanda Gold (applies to all cupcakes)

Here are a few basic steps for making cupcakes. If you can make one kind, you can make 'em all.

Plan ahead. It's important to let the butter and eggs come to room temperature before you begin.

Sift together or combine all of the dry ingredients in the recipe. Set aside.

Measure and combine liquids, like milk, buttermilk or water, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

Beat the butter for about 30 seconds until creamy. Then add the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. The lighter the batter, the lighter the cupcake.

Add the eggs one at a time, and continue to beat until they're fully incorporated and the batter is creamy.

Add dry ingredients alternately with wet ingredients. This usually takes 3 to 4 additions. It's important to begin and end with flour, which prevents the batter from getting lumpy.

Add any final flavorings, like citrus zest or mashed banana.

Scoop into cupcake liners and bake, keeping an eye on them. Cupcakes dry out easily, and some will bake faster than others, depending on the temperature of your oven and whether the cupcakes are in the front or back.

Basic Vanilla Cupcakes

From Chronicle columnist Flo Braker.

-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt

-2 teaspoons vanilla

-1/2 cup whole milk

-1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

-1 cup sugar
-2 large eggs at room temperature


Adjust rack to lower third of oven; preheat the oven to 375°. Place paper cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt onto a piece of waxed paper. Stir the vanilla into the milk.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar in a slow, steady stream, beating until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until the batter is light and creamy, and scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl after each addition. Add the dry ingredients alternating with the liquid ingredients in 4 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top of the muffins springs back when lightly touched, and a wooden toothpick inserted in the cakes comes out free of uncooked batter.

Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

Yields 12 cupcakes

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