Sunday, December 9, 2012

Enchanted Fantasy Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

I just want to begin by saying that these are the best vanilla cupcakes (taste and texture) I have made by far. After testing three recipes over the past week, this is the clear winner. I made these to celebrate a young lady's 18th birthday and was given free reign with design, so I went for some enchanted fantasy flowers in bright colours. Who said vanilla cupcakes are plain and boring?

The recipes tested include: 

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes by Glorious Treats - great texture and moist, however lacked that delicious vanilla cupcake flavour even though I used real vanilla beans. If I tried this recipe again I would substitute the oil with melted butter.

A Better Vanilla Cake by Beyond Buttercream - not bad however taste and texture was not my favourite for the classic vanilla cupcake flavour.

Over the years I have also baked many of the traditional creaming method vanilla cupcakes (cream butter and sugar, add flour and milk alternately) - this results in great flavour but the texture can be a little dry.

The winning recipe for me is Billy's Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes. It uses the reverse creaming method(mix dry ingredients, then add butter) which helps keep the texture soft, and real butter for great flavour. The changes I have made are to substitute the milk with buttermilk to ensure moist cupcakes, and to use real vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste instead of extract. Oh and I always use Western Star Original butter which is salted, so I omit the salt.

Billy's Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes

Source: Martha Stewart (American measures converted to weight by Sweetapolita)

Yield: 30 cupcakes (I got 24 large cupcakes)

175g cake flour, not self-raising

157g all-purpose flour

400g sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt         *I omit as I use salted butter

227g unsalted butter cut into 1-inch cubes, room temperature

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (250mL) whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste or about half a vanilla bean scraped out

1.   Preheat oven to 170°C. Line standard cupcake pans with your favourite paper cupcake liners.

2.   In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt) and mix on low speed until blended. Add cubes of butter, one at a time, and mix again until all butter is coated with flour.

3.   In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula after each addition. Beat until just incorporated.

4.   Divide batter among liners (should be 2/3 full). Bake until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 17-20 minutes. Try not to over bake as no matter what recipe you use, over baking will always result in dry cake.

5.   Remove from oven and immediately transfer the cupcakes onto a cooling rack by inverting the tray. This is to stop the paper cases from peeling away. Carefully turn the cupcakes right-side-up and let cool completely before frosting with my best ever vanilla frosting.

Note: Cake flour is available in most supermarkets and baking supply stores. My local Coles stocks Lighthouse cake, biscuit & pastry plain flour in the flour section. If you cannot locate cake flour a substitute can be made by sifting 2 Tablespoons cornflour with enough plain flour to make 1 cup of substitute.

Best Ever Vanilla Frosting

500g butter (if using unsalted, add a pinch of salt)
~ 5 cups icing sugar, depending on consistency and sweetness desired
3 Tablespoons cream/milk, optional depending on desired consistency
2-3 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract

Whip butter in bowl of electric mixer using paddle attachment for 8 minutes on medium speed. It should look very pale. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed until incorporated, then on medium speed for another 6 minutes.

This makes a large quantity of frosting - enough to pipe swirls on all 24 cupcakes with a little leftover. If you only like a small amount of frosting, simply halve the recipe.



  1. I do the same with my cakes i.e. cake flour using cornflour, vanilla paste and soured milk and they turn out nice and soft and vanillaey! And paste is so much easier to use than beans :)

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