Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes... one bowl method. I have been on a search to find a great vanilla cupcake lately... one that I could always refer to when needed. Was looking for just the right vanilla cupcake that would be light and fluffy, tasty... and fairly easy to make. At first I wanted to find a recipe that was somewhat similar to the chocolate cupcake I posted recently... like using oil instead of butter. But after making a few batches, I realized that a great vanilla cupcake ought to have that buttery flavor. So out went the oil :(... It's not that I don't like butter, but I wanted the recipe to be somewhat inexpensive to make and at the same time have that moistness which the oil usually provides. So then I was back to square one...
In my search to find the "perfect" vanilla cupcake, I came across Billy's Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcake recipe. The only thing was that the recipe had mixed reviews... some absolutely loved it, while others weren't so keen on it(and had trouble with the recipe). So because of the reviews, I kept looking... all along bookmarking a ton of recipes. But I kept thinking about Billy's cupcakes. It had initially caught my attention because it was different. The method of making the cupcake batter was a bit unusual as it bypassed the creaming of the butter and sugar. A normal method that's used when making the usual cake batter.
Billy's recipe uses a one bowl method for making the batter, and it doesn't require any extra beaten egg whites to make them fluffy.... and that always helps, because I have a hard time trying to come up with a recipe that uses the leftover egg yolks. In any case, the recipe actually starts out as you would when making scones or pie crust for that matter. The butter is mixed with the flour until it's combined... and then the rest of the ingredients are added in stages. I loved the technique.... and really wanted to try it for myself. Just to see the results. I made sure to watch the video where Billy makes the cupcakes...and decided a day or two later to whip up a batch of his vanilla cupcakes. I am glad I did... as this will be my go-to recipe when I need vanilla cupcakes. The cupcakes are very light and tender with a buttery flavor. They sort of remind me of a very light pound cake.... taste-wise.
As with most of my recipes I post here, there needs to be some sort of adaptation to the original recipe:). In this case, I started out wanting to follow the recipe "to a T"... but ended up having to adjust it to fit my needs. I hardly ever buy cake flour, so of course I needed to adjust that to include the cornstarch. Then I didn't have the whole 2 sticks of butter the recipe called for... as I had used a bit of it for something else earlier that week. That had to be adjusted... by adding a bit of oil instead:). And as with most desserts, I tend to always cut the sugar by a bit and increase the vanilla.
So I am posting the original ingredients here along with my version... the directions are also a bit different as well. I suggest if any of you would like to try it, to first read the original recipe/directions as well as watching the video clip. You will find that Billy(in the video link) actually uses 2 TBS baking powder... and the recipe posted on Martha Stewart's site uses just 1 TBS Baking powder. I chose to use 1 TBS.... and found it just right.
I think the main reason associated with all the negative reviews may be partly due to not using room temperature butter... and not incorporating the butter with the flour well enough. In the end you will end up with a batter that's almost the consistency of frosting... light and fluffy.
Are these the "perfect" vanilla cupcakes? I think that all depends... we all have our own tastes and preferences... and what may work for some, won't work for others. But for us we found the cupcakes to be really tasty, moist and very light..... we loved them! I think the flavor and tender crumb was what won us over. And because of that, I am posting the original ingredients(as a reference) along with my version and directions. Hope you enjoy...
Note: I felt the need to decorate a few of the cupcakes... as plain cupcakes aren't that photogenic:). Made a quick raspberry cream cheese frosting... more like a few TBS of cream cheese with a few tablespoons of icing sugar and a handful of frozen raspberries:). Didn't exactly follow a recipe... But feel free to use your favorite frosting.
The rest of the cupcakes I froze... and they are just as delicious... just remember to bring them to room temperature before serving.
You will need: adapted from Billy's Bakery in NY via Martha Stewart (link also has video clip)
Billy's Version makes about 30-36(or so) cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
My Version... makes about 24 regular cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes
2 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 TBS baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
13 TBS room temp butter, cut in pieces
4 ex-large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3 TBS oil
2 tsps vanilla extract
1.Preheat oven to 325 deg F.
2. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the all-purpose flour, cornstarch( or if making billy's version, the cake flour), sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined.
4. Add butter(soft but still a bit firm. I left mine out for a couple of hours), piece by piece, mixing until all the butter has been coated with flour and resembles coarse sand... maybe 1-2 minutes.
5. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated.... maybe another minute or so. The mixture will look somewhat heavy.
6. Combine milk, oil (skip if making Billy's version), and vanilla in a measuring cup. With mixer on medium speed, slowly add the milk mixture in 3 or 4 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated and you notice the batter becoming whiteish and light ( it's almost mousse-like) .... but do not overbeat. Do a final mix using a spatula... trying to incorporated the unmixed batter that may be stuck at the bottom/sides of the mixer bowl.
7. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 1/2-2/3 full... I like to fill mine with about 2 TBS worth of batter.... try not to overfill, as the cupcakes can overflow and get that "mushroom top".
8. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.... the mini cupcakes will take less baking time... 13-15 minutes(or so).
9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter.
10. Once cupcakes have cooled completely, frost tops of each cupcake with your favorite frosting. Serve at room temperature.