Archive for ‘Cupcake Project’

January 25, 2012

The ultimate vanilla cupcake, Vanilla bean buttercream frosting

Cupcake Project

Makes: 16

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cups (175 grams) cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) full-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil (60 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon pure (not imitation) vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) whole milk

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (add more until it reaches your preferred consistency)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (add more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon milk

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean. (For those of you who are new to using vanilla beans, check out this video to learn how to get the seeds out of the 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 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it.  The cupcakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean. They should not turn a golden brown.  If they are not done, test again in two minutes.  If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes. When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don’t own a cooling rack) to cool.

For the frosting:

  • Mix together sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy.
  • Add vanilla bean paste and milk and continue to beat for another minute.
  • If desired, add more vanilla bean paste to taste, or more confectioners’ sugar to make it stiffer.

*Chef’s note: HOLY. MOLY. Best cupcake I’ve ever made. One of the best I’ve ever eaten. If you love vanilla, make this now. If you don’t love vanilla, make this now, and you will love vanilla. Seriously, it is DIVINE! I foresee myself craving this often. So moist and fluffy, but still substantial. I had never used vanilla beans before ($4 a bean!), but it was so worth it for this cupcake. If my blog had a category “heaven,” I would check it. For the frosting, I used a tiny bit of the bean plus 2 teaspoons of extract in place of the paste. The frosting was a bit grainy, but, as I’ve said previously, I’m still working on perfecting my skills ;)