Sunday, October 9, 2011
vanilla sprinkle cupcakes.
It's no secret that I'm a vanilla kind of girl and I've been searching for that perfect vanilla cake recipe. So when I chanced upon this post at Sweetapolita who is also a vanilla-holic herself, I knew I hit the jackpot. She said that Fluffy Vanilla Cake was her favourite recipe and if someone who has made about 9 different vanilla cake recipes can conclude that, it must be pretty promising.
After many headaches and experimenting, I found that cakes with certain ingredients potentially do well. Firstly, the cake must use only egg whites instead of whole eggs. Whole eggs will mask the taste of vanilla. Secondly, buttermilk. Buttermilk gives a tenderness to cakes like you would not believe acidic milk can. I learnt that in this post when making Dorie's Perfect Party Cake. Basically, what we're looking for is a blank canvas, which is a white cake, and then adding extra vanilla love to it.
Of course, lightness and fluffiness is also very important. This cake recipe definitely delivers that. It uses the reverse creaming method which gives a melt-in-your-mouth crumb. I've tried this technique before here using The Cake Bible's white velvet butter cake recipe. To date, the white velvet butter cake recipe has the best crumb out of all the cakes I've made because it literally takes a nudge of the tongue for the cake to dissolve. However, it's not a very fluffy cake. Sweetapolita's recipe, on the other hand, bakes up airy cakes. You know how you know a cupcake will be fluffy and light if you pick it up and it weighs close to nothing? Yep, that applies to these.
Having said that, I still somewhat prefer Dorie's Perfect Party Cake recipe because of its more tender crumb. It's sort of a cross between The Cake Bible's and Sweetapolita's. It's not as fluffy as Sweetapolita's and not as dense as The Cake Bible's. Plus, its crumb is not as fine as The Cake Bible's while definitely more tender than Sweetapolita's. I would hazard a guess and say it's the magic of buttermilk, so perhaps I would try this recipe again with buttermilk, just to see if it will be more tender. Because if it does, it will be my ultimate vanilla cake recipe. At least for now.
I scaled down the original recipe to yield a few cupcakes because I wanted to practice my piping skills. I'm quite happy with these. They actually look like roses. There's hope in my piping ability! Well actually, I was about to finish piping my second cupcake when the piping bag burst so I had to salvage whatever that's left and frost the last cupcake with a spatula. Boo... That's no fun.
This recipe makes cakes that are quite sweet so I would cut down on the sugar. I say try reducing it by a third. I think having cakes that are not too sweet are important not just because you may not be able to handle such saccharine stuff and get sick of it, but also as having less sugar allows the flavour of the cake to shine. If you're really worried about dessert not really being dessert, don't sweat it. Because, we have frosting!
I chose to made a vanilla bean frosting, using a flour frosting recipe. I love such frostings because they are extremely creamy and have a milky taste. The milkiness sort of hides the taste of butter which I'm grateful for. I don't really like buttercreams because of the taste of cold raw butter puts me off. In fact, I like to tweak the ratio of milk paste to butter such that I can barely taste the butter. And I also cut down on the sugar in the frosting because based on past experience, this sort of frosting tends to be overly sweet.
Although frostings are best eaten at room temperature, I would like to urge you to try this one cold too. Sure, the frosting won't taste especially flavorful but the texture is almost like a truffle. The outside is firm while the inside is smooth and creamy. To have the best of both worlds, take your time to enjoy your cupcake! At first it will be cold and as you slowly nibble your way through, the frosting will slowly warm up and then you can taste how wonderful vanilla beans can be.
Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes
I divided the recipe by 6 and got 3 cupcakes. In other words, the full recipe makes 18. I would reduce the sugar by a third but try a quarter first if you like your cupcakes sweeter. I also think replacing the milk with buttermilk will yield an even more tender crumb.
click here for the recipe
Vanilla Bean Frosting
makes enough for 20 cupcakes, supposedly
1 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
1 1/2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped out and reserving pods
3/4 cup softened butter, cut into cubes
In a saucepan, combine 1/4 cup of milk, sugar, flour and vanilla seeds and pods. Whisk to form a thick paste and until there are no lumps. Over medium heat, slowly add the remaining milk while whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and continue whisking until the mixture starts to thicken slightly. Immediately remove the pan from heat and keep whisking. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Let the mixture cool to room temperature then strain to get rid of any lumps and the vanilla pods. It is important that the milk mixture be completely cool before continuing because we don't want the butter to melt in the next step. In fact, you can do this step in advance and refrigerate it overnight.
Using a whisk attachment, whisk the milk mixture until light and fluffy. Add in the cubed butter gradually, incorporating each addition before adding the next. The frosting should look light and fluffy. Now you can frost your cupcakes!
If you're going to sprinkle-fy them, do it before refrigerating the cupcakes because the frosting will turn hard and the sprinkles won't stick.
Linked to Tuesday Talent Show, Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, Sweet Treats Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Fat Camp Friday, Sweets for a Saturday, Strut Your Stuff Saturday and Sweet Indulgences Sunday.