Sunday, February 23, 2014

Finally, a 'go to' vanilla cupcake and frosting recipe - Whoop Whoop!

If you've been following my blog, you'll remember that I had a post a while back about the hunt for the perfect vanilla cupcake.  I didn't find it, truth be told.  Hence when I was asked to bake a batch of cupcakes again, I found myself scouring the web looking for new and different recipes.  I'm happy to report that I found an amazing recipe...beautiful cake, and absolutely gorgeous vanilla bean swiss meringue doesn't get more divine than this. Definitely my 'go to' recipe from now on.

Interestingly the method in the cake recipe calls for adding the butter to the flour mixture in cold cubes - similar to the method I use when I bake my scones.  I know the idea behind adding cold butter in pastry dough recipes, but don't consider this a method I'd use in making cupcakes.  Alas, I couldn't bring myself to apply this method when using this recipe.  So then, I used the ingredients exactly as they're written, but changed the method. And, oh yeah, if you're going to bother using cake flour, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS sift it.  You're going for air, clearly, so might as well go all the way ;). 

    Make the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C degrees F.
  2. Sift the flours, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar.  Beat until the mixture is pale yellow and very fluffy ~ 4 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are well-combined.
  5. Combine the milk and vanilla extract & bean paste in a measuring cup.
  6. On a low speed, alternating, add the flour mixture and milk emulsion to the butter mixture. Beat until just combined ~ 1-2 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix again until the mixture is well blended (30-60 seconds).   
  7. Fill paper liners 2/3 full with batter, and bake for 15-20 minutes - until a tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.  Start checking at 15 minutes.
  8. Cool completely before topping with buttercream.
    Make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl. Set over a pot of simmering water, and whisk continuously, until the mixture is hot, opaque, and the sugar is completely dissolved (should not feel gritty between your fingers), about 5 minutes.
  2. Whip the mixture on high speed, until stiff peaks form and it has completely cooled (12ish minutes).
  3. Add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, whipping well after each addition. If it begins to look curdled, continue to beat until it comes back together, before adding the remaining butter.
  4. Mix in the vanilla bean paste until well blended.
  5. Using a pastry bag fitted with your preferred nozzle of choice, pipe the frosting on to the cupcakes.
  6. Enjoy!
  7. P.S. I made about 36 cupcakes from this batter (probably filled them half way vs. 2/3 since I didn't want the cupcakes protruding from the cases - wanted them more tidy and flat).  As such, I ended up needing to make 2 batches of the buttercream frosting since the recipe as is barely covered 23 cupcakes, and I didn't use massive amounts as you can see below. 

Note: This recipe was shamelessly stolen from who stole it from who adapted it from the cookbook, "The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook" -  I absolutely LOVE how recipes are adapted from one baker to the next.  I'll be curious to hear if anyone adapts this one...

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