Sprinkles make me happy

Look, sometimes you just need a simple vanilla cupcake.  No, it’s not terribly exciting and no, I don’t think its ever going to be anyone’s first choice–but it’s still a necessity.  Keep in mind, that just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy.  No friends, vanilla cupcakes are serious business.  You’re probably wondering how can an everyday flavor be this difficult or complex.  Well, the simpler the cupcake, the more apparent the flaws.  Do your cupcakes have enough flavor?  Are they moist?  What kind of crumb does your cupcake give?

Sprinkles just make me happy

Unique cupcakes always have one thing going for them–people don’t really know what to expect.  But if you’re going to produce a cupcake everyone is familiar with, you’re going to have to meet their expectations.  So..I am on a quest for the perfect vanilla cupcake.  I have a few different recipes I want to try, and I’ll keep you guys updated.  Trust me, a HUGE part of me is tempted to make a vanilla cupcake every week until I find “The One,” but it’s simply too cruel of a thing to do to my arteries.  Oh, butter, you crazy fattening thing, you!

Okay.  So review for Cupcakes #1 (recipe can be found here).  Boy did these cupcakes hit the flavor dead-on.  These cupcakes really transformed the room!  So aromatic…they made me salivate.  But I would expect nothing less from a recipe that demands 1 tbsp of vanilla extract and a whole vanilla bean.  To be honest, if this cupcake didn’t taste the way they did, I would have been a tad upset about wasting all of that vanilla goodness!  The best part about this recipe?  The cupcakes are covered in vanilla flakes–they’re stunning!  These were definitely very tasty!

But is this the perfect vanilla cupcake? I’m afraid I’m going to have to say no–but they are indeed very impressive!  Where did this cupcake fall short?  I found them to be a bit dry, which left me feeling a bit suckerpunched. Haha.  Well, actually…let me take 2 steps back.  They were a tad dry, but to no fault of this recipe, I think.  If my memory serves me right, my butter wasn’t exactly room temperature (though it was very close) since I was in a mega rush to finish these before guests arrived.  That being the case, I’m sure ultimately that lead to the overbeating of the batter.  And if you know cupcakes, you know that once the flour is added, that’s a bit time no-no.  In this case, I’m going to say that the extra 30 seconds may have made all the difference.   You should know that I’m giving this recipe the benefit of the doubt, but aside from the moisture, I wasn’t super super happy with the crumb either.  These cupcakes weren’t tough, they just didn’t have a satisfying bite to them.

I think I would definitely give this recipe another go–with some minor adjustments.  I’ll be making some vanilla cupcakes for the 4th of July using a hybrid of different recipes I’ve come across while doing my research, so I’ll make sure to update you!

I just topped off these pretty things with traditional buttercream.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

( I can’t really tell you how many cupcakes this makes since I did a combo of regular and mini-sized cupcakes!)

3 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1¼ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the bowl of the mixer with the butter and reserve the pod to make vanilla sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed for a few minutes, until light and creamy.  Make sure to scrape down the side of the bowl and mix for an additional minute to make sure batter has been thoroughly mixed.

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.

Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Once cool, frost with desired frosting.

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