Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Not-Blah-At-All Vanilla Cupcakes

For everyone who thinks vanilla is kinda blah - myself included - prepare to be proved wrong! Yeah, I said it! 

I've never tried to make vanilla cake/cupcakes/anything. Vanilla is just soooo ... vanilla! Or so I thought. But then a friend asked me to make 60 cupcakes for her engagement/fiancé’s birthday party - half of them red velvet and half of them vanilla, and not relishing the thought of having 30 crappy cupcakes on my hand on the day of the party and delivering only half (the red velvet which I've made before) to the party, I realised I'd have to try out a recipe or four (as many as it took to get them right) before my cupcake-athon (great idea by the way, I could raise money for charity by eating erm, I meant baking, cakes for charity - just an insight into how my ingenious mind works! ;p). 
So now that the decision was made, all that was left was to find a few recipes and choose which one to try first. Easy. Right? Ummm, No! I have LOTS of cake books but do you know I could not find a single vanilla cupcake recipe??? And I refuse to turn to the Internet when I currently must have about a gazillion (rough estimate) cake recipes on my bookshelf which I haven't yet tried. So finally (as is always the way, it was where I looked last) I turned to a book I had never used; The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Book by Jennifer Graham. And right there on the very first page was a recipe for vanilla cupcakes. Yay! And what cupcakes they were; fluffy and so tasty that I still find it hard to believe they came from such a simple recipe! This is officially my new favourite cupcake book - sorry Martha Stewart! 
If you live in Victoria, Australia (which must be a fantastic place, judging by the name ;p), then you have to check out the Crabapple Bakery because even if their cakes are only just as good as their recipes, then they must be amazing! 
I was also practising my icing technique which needs so much work; but more on that in a later post.  If you were ever going to try making cupcakes; I suggest you start with these :D

Sorry measurements are all in cups! But to be honest, a lot of the best recipes are American or Australian so if you're a keen baker, I suggest you invest in a set.

Ingredients for the cupcakes                                      
2 and three quarters cups plain flour                               
2 teaspoons baking powder                                           
200g softened unsalted butter                                         
1 and three quarters cups caster sugar (I used golden)     
4 eggs                                                                             
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used 2)
1 cup milk

Makes: 24                                                                   
Keeps: 2 days                                                               
Freezes: 2 months

Ingredients for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
200g softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used 2)
8 cups icing sugar (I found I only needed around 6 and a half)

Makes: Enough for 24 cupcakes
Keeps: 1 week

1 - Preheat oven to 170ºC. Line two 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake papers
2 - Mix together the flour and the baking powder
3 - In a separate bowl, cream the butter for 1 - 2 minutes. Add the caster sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved
4 - Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined
5 - Add a third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add half the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process. Add the remaining third of the flour and beat thoroughly until combined; do not over-beat as this will toughen the mixture
6 - Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean
7 - Remove cupcakes from trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 - Cream the butter for 1-2 minutes.
2 - Add the milk, vanilla extract and half of the sifted icing sugar, and beat for at least 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3 - Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy and of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if the mixture is too dry or extra icing sugar if it is too wet.

If you wish to colour/flavour the buttercream, this is the best time to do it. Add a drop at a time and beat in until you reach the required colour and/or flavour.


Adura said...


Ms Afropolitan said...

seriously, drool indeed!

vanilla is blah? i love vanilla, especially the old traditional stuff

Vickii said...

Thanks ladies!

@Ms Afropolitan: I love vanilla too - if you look at my recipes, you'll see I always double the quantity (at the very least). But I always thought of it as an enhancer to other flavours rather than a pretty amazing flavour all on it's own ... I've been schooled, I'm now 'Team Vanilla'! :D

1511th said...

Please will you make some for me to eat on the plane? Thanks alot, this is why I love you loads!

So pretty!!

titi said...

Just tried out this recipe today and it turned out awesome! Love love the taste of the vanilla cupcake:) My frosting wasn't so great though, too sweet, lol, so need a do over on that. Thanks again!

Vickii said...

Hey Titi! Thanks for letting me know, I love knowing when people try out recipes from my blog! The cupcake is amazing I agree! Try beating the icing a lot and perhaps stop adding icing sugar if it gets to the consistency you want and you've not used up all the icing sugar recommended. I agree, it can be a bit sweet.
I'll definitely try and find a better buttercream icing and will blog it!

titi said...

Thanks Vickii for the Icing tip, will let you know how it goes when I try it again next week. I want to try out baking my very first cake, wot book do u recommend? Please put up a red velvet cupcake recipe soon, yours look yummy:)

Vickii said...

Hey Titi,

I think until you know what kind of cakes you like to bake and hence what kind of book you want, hold off on buying a book for now. Just google the cake recipe and pick one where you like the list of ingredients and the preparation process looks do-able. Some of my favourite cake recipes are from the internet. Tip, I always enter 'best' ... recipe because if someone thinks their recipe is the best, at the very least, it's good.

Red velvet cupcake recipe is next week but the one I'll blog is not the best red velvet recipe I've tried - is. You can use it for cupcakes too.

titi said...

Thanks for the quick response, great tips thanks:) I did google brownie recipe online recently and actually tried 2 different ones but didn't quite like them. One was more of a glazed brownie and the other was kinda like chocolate:( (I am too intimidated to try ur nut brownie, lol) Love my brownies almost cake like but very moist and thick:)
Yay @ red velvet recipe for next week. Just saved the link you posted. Its my son's 1st bday in 2 months and I have decided to bake all the goodies:) So trying to prepare ahead and stuff.

Vickii said...

Email me Titi - - I'll email you back an amazing brownie recipe I have - sounds exactly like what you are describing. It's adapted from another recipe that my sister, cousin and I have adapted over six years :D And sooooo easy to make!