Yesterday I learned a lesson that cost me more than a dozen cupcakes: Technique IS Everything.
I began with high hopes for Old-Fashioned Cupcakes that I´d seen made on Paula Deen´s ¨Paula´s Best Dishes.¨ These basic vanilla cupcakes had rave reviews online, and seemed to be just what I was looking for. Following the directions word-for-word, I mixed the batter, filled the cupcake liners, and sent the cupcakes to the oven to do their time. After said time, I removed the oddest-looking flat-topped cupcakes that I´ve yet to make. These cupcakes had tiny holes in the top think crumpets, and a nearly cornbread texture. The flavor was spot-on, but I knew there had to be something better. That´s when I found Amy Sedaris´ vanilla cupcakes recipe, and Billy Reece´s, and oodles of others abounding in recipe search sites. And they were ALL similar within 98% of ingredients and varied only in technique.
Time to try this again… I struck out once again gathering the ingredients and piling them onto my very small counterspace. This time, I used the creaming method, per Sedaris´ instructions, and was pleased with the final product: a tender vanilla cupcake with a loverly dome. This recipe is a keeper, as so many famous bakeries and home cooks alike must have known for some time, which makes me wonder Why wasn´t I let in on this little secret? If you like cute-as-a-button pale yellow cuppies with the most adorable dome for decorating, this is your recipe. Try it.
In conclusion, these treats are frosted with my favorite buttercream, which also happens to be Sedaris´recipe with the addition of 1t. lemon juice. I´m still not sure how I managed to snag her buttercream as a ¨keeper¨ so long ago, but somehow missed out on the cupcakes themselves. Go figure.
By a variety of authors, with a little tweak here or there
Yields 12 regular cupcakes
1 stick butter I used margarine with spectacular results
1 c. sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
3. Beat in eggs, vanilla, salt and baking powder.
4. Beginning here I mixed by hand. Add flour in 3 batches, alternating with milk.
5. Mix until batter is smooth with no lumps. Do not overbeat.
6. Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until tops are pale gold and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
7. Cool on wire rack for 45 minutes or until at room temperature.
Beat butter until fluffy and light. Add half of the sugar and beat. Gradually add in all remaining sugar and the other ingredients. Beat until light and airy, around 5 minutes and adjust texture to your liking by adding more sugar or milk. Spead or pipe on cupcakes.