Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream

       This cupcake is for all the teachers out there. Teaching. Is. Hard. And Summer. Is. Almost here! On those two notes, doesn't life deserve a cupcake right now? Especially with all the lovely New England sunshine- err, rain we have been having lately.  I do apologize if right now if you are drooling over these cupcakes. I know-Vanilla. The word just screams, "Plain! Boring". But I assure you this little simple package was anything but. I am usually disappointed by vanilla cupcakes I have tried to make at home. However--(are you ready for this next statement?) I do believe I have found my go to vanilla cupcake recipe. And if you know me that is one TALL order. I am always searching for the perfect _______________. velvet. Perfect...carrot cake. The perfect recipe for the best all-american desserts. Oh who am I kidding- the perfect recipe for just about anything you can bake. Why drive myself crazy, you ask? I have absolutely no idea. I am the type of person who if I could afford to would make multiple recipes of vanilla cupcakes to be able to taste test them side by side. I'll leave that to the Cook's Illustrated experts for now.

This cupcake recipe is fairly simple (ok there is a lot of mixing), with not a long list of ingredients. The crumb was fantastically light. Great vanilla taste. The icing- divine. I am honestly surprised I got to the assembling part at all and didn't just lick the entire bowl of batter.

I made these for a last department meeting (so close to summer!) cookout. I love cupcakes. They just put a smile on my face and I figured a cookout to celebrate the end of the school year needed a great cupcake. I chose vanilla because I figured it is an all-around crowd pleaser. And I was right. These didn't last long. I managed to sneak one home for later.

I am now wishing I had snuck two cupcakes.

I used these cute cupcake liners I had recieved as a gift from my sister in a Paula Dean cupcake kit. A well balanced diet is a cupcake in each hand. So true true.

Vanilla Cupcakes
Adapted from Annie's Eats

Please note: the original recipe called for vanilla bean. I, having none on hand  (Let's face it vanilla beans are't cheap!) I simply doubled the vanilla extract to 2 tablespoons. If you choose to use the bean (and I only imagine it can enhance an already great cupcake) scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the bowl of the mixer with the butter and discard the pod (or reserve for another use.)  

3 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1¼ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  Set aside.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.
3.Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.
4.Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
5.Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full (you will likely have batter left over after filling 24 wells.I managed to make a full 3 dozen cupcakes)  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Replace paper liners and bake remaining batter if desired.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.
Yield: approximately 30 cupcakes (like I said I got 36 cupcakes!)

Easy Vanilla ButtercreamIngredients:20 tbsp. (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted1/8 tsp. salt2 tsp. vanilla extract2 tbsp. heavy cream  Directions:In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.  Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds.  Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds.  Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.  

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