Happy 2nd Birthday to our Bake-Along!
We bake-along about twice a month. One is from a chosen recipe and the other one is based on a theme. At the beginning, it was just the three of us that baked along. Soon after we started blog hopping, we have multiple entries now and knew lots of friends through our bake-alongs.
For our second Bake-Along anniversary, we are baking celebration cupcakes. Although cupcakes seems common and easy to bake, there seems too many recipes to choose and I don't really know which is the best one to bake. And I google the word, "best vanilla cupcake" and this is what I found.
This ultimate vanilla cupcake recipe by the Cupcake Project.com is the first hit that I found with my Google inquiry. Stef, the author of Cupcake Project.com has a team of 50 test bakers who are known as the Vanilla Cupcake Recipe Cupcake Project Explorers. They had baked and helped Stef to seek for the most perfect vanilla cupcake recipe and finally concluded that this recipe is the one that has the most positive feedback.
There is no way that 50 test bakers can be wrong! - Knowing these makes me feel silly if I don't give this recipe a try...
Instead of creaming butter and sugar first for the typical cake mixing methods, this recipe adopts an alternative "Reverse Creaming" method (which is also mentioned in this cake recipe by America's Test Kitchen). All the dry ingredients are first well mixed with butter and all are mixed together with the combined wet ingredients. Accordingly to what I have gathered from the reviews of this method, the most critical thing to know is that all the ingredients have to be at room temperature so that I won't have to worry for any curdly looking stuff.
Besides seeking for an ultimate cupcake recipe, I'm also seeking for a buttercream recipe which is moderately creamy and contains no eggs and least amount of added fat. As I was looking online for reduced fat version of vanilla buttercream, I found these two reasonable good recipes from Taste of Home at here and here using milk and more icing sugar to substitute the missing butter.
With both interesting cupcake and frosting recipes to try, I'm excited baking these cupcakes. Is this going to my best and ultimate vanilla cupcakes? Let's see...
|Happy 2nd Bake-Along anniversary... with ultimate vanilla cupcakes?|
|Making the batter using the reverse-creaming method|
|These cooked cupcakes look pale and not golden brown at all.|
|Making my fat-reduced vanilla frosting|
|Half amount of frosting recipe can only frost THREE cupcakes!!!|
|Two are smiley and one hold the candle - Happy Birthday Bake-along!|
|Ultimate vanilla cupcakes? Now take a closer look...|
Zoe's "Seriously serious" Cupcake Assessments:
Cupcake recipe - Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake from Cupcake Project.com
Method: 10/10. Easy with no curdling stuff to worry if everything used is in room temperature
Texture: 10/10. Light and moist! Smooth and slightly buttery! Excellent!
Taste: 8/10. It has a slight egg-y smell at initial inspection but can't detect the smell at all when I ate the cakes. It tastes really good with a good balance of saltiness and sweetness. Being extra critical, I'm not giving it a perfect mark mainly for the fact that it doesn't and wouldn't brown at all.
Frosting recipe - Vanilla Frosting from Taste of Home
Method: 5/10. Easy like most typical buttercream method but difficult to know the most ideal consistency to archive. The recipe says that it yields 16 servings but I can only frost 3 cupcakes with half amount of the recipe.
Texture: 4/10. Creamy but mostly sugary. Not very stable and doesn't stay in shapes.
Taste: 2/10. Very sweet! Recommend to ice cupcakes with just a thin layer of this frosting... No wonder this recipe can yield 16 servings. Not recommended to use for tall frosting.
Ultimate vanilla cupcakes? I like the cupcakes but not the reduced-fat buttercream. I prefer to stick my usual buttercream recipe which is always creamy and nice!
Disappointed? - I must say a little... but no worries at all. I have another interesting cupcake recipe to try. So stay tune for the my next celebration cupcake post. Here are the recipes that I have used to bake our celebration cupcakes.
(with my note and modification in blue)
Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake from Cupcake Project.com
Yield: 16 cupcakes
1 cup (225g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
(used 1 for half amount of the recipe)
1 3/4 cups (175g) cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
(replaced with extra baking powder)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup (75g) full-fat sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil (60 ml)
(I used rice bran oil)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
(I didn't add this)
2/3 cup (160 ml) whole milk
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C or 160°C fan forced).
In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean.
Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you'll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquid. (Don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. It's supposed to be that way.)
Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
Bake for 14 mins and then test to see with cake tester if they are done. The cupcakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean. They should not turn golden brown. If they are not done, test again in two minutes. If they are still not done, test again in another two mins.
When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack to cool.
Note: Using half amount of the recipe, I have 9 cupcakes at 160°C fan forced for 17 mins.
Vanilla Frosting from Taste of Home
Yield: 1 cups for about 16 servings
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
(replaced with vanilla paste)
In a bowl, combine the sugar, butter, milk and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy.
Frost the cupcakes with this frosting.
Note: Using half of both recipes, I have baked 8 vanilla cupcakes and managed to frost only 3 cupcakes with vanilla frosting. I have decorated them with rolled and cut fondants and transformed them into Happy Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes! - LOL!
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Please note that the linky tool for bake-along is no longer available.