Saturday, 2 June 2012

White on White Cupcakes

I recently posted a recipe for basic vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese icing. They made rich, buttery cakes, but a friend of mine tried it and found the batter very thick. While this problem can be remedied by adding little splashes of milk, I tried another vanilla cupcake recipe, with a more traditionally runny batter that's easily measured in the cupcake pan with a ice cream scoop.

Not only did those new cupcakes turn out to be delicious, they also turned out to be my favorite vanilla cupcakes of all the recipes I have tried so far! The vanilla flavor is quite present, but not overpowering and the crumb is light and moist. Just heavenly!

White cupcakes according to Betty Crocker's "Big Books of Cupcakes" (for 24 cupcakes):

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
5 egg whites
2 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat 2 minutes longer. Add egg whites, one at the time,  beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. On low speed, alternatively add flour mixture, about 1/3 of mixture at the time, and milk, about 1/2 at a time, beating until just blended. Divide batter in the lined baking cups, filling them about 2/3 of the way. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Wait until completely cooled to frost.

They make a lighter and fluffier cake than the previous recipe, so I decided to pair them with this yummy fluffy vanilla icing, from "Martha Stewart's Cupcakes":

1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the butter on medium speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. After every 2 additions, raise the speed to high and beat for 10 seconds to aerate the frosting, then return to medium. This process should take about 10 minutes. The frosting will be very pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, and beat until the frosting is smooth.

Of all the vanilla icings I have tried, this one is my undisputed favorite: it's super-creamy with a great buttery taste. But most importantly, it's not too sweet. The biggest problem I've had with vanilla icings is that the taste of sugar tends to completely take over, but this icing seems to have the perfect butter/sugar proportion. The rich, silky texture is also to die for. As you can see, it pipes nicely into lovely little swirls.

I brought those in lieu of birthday cake for my little brother's 22nd birthday lunch and got raves! Probably because as basic as a vanilla cupcake with vanilla icing may sound, it definitely has this nostalgic quality to it that makes it ideal for birthdays. There is a little taste of early birthday parties to this combination that never fails to satisfy.

Happy birthday, baby bro!

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