Billy's Vanilla, Vanilla cupcakes (as adapted from marthastewart.com)
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
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
- Ohhhhh, the trouble I had with this particular step. First of all, my parents DO NOT own a working electric mixer, much less one of those really neat KitchenAid ones (which, by the way, if you want to get on my good side, I would love one of those for my birthday- never mind waiting until I register for a wedding one day- preferably in red). I had to put all my muscle into mixing the batter all on my own. Plus, imagine my confusion when I had to use TWO separate flours. I understand I am making myself look less and less intelligent with each blog post, but I literally thought there was only one kind of flour in the world.
2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
- Again, this was SUPER difficult without a mixer. PLUS... excuse me? Who's idea was it to keep the butter in 1-inch pieces? I don't understand that step at all. Usually recipes call for softened or melted butter. Needless to say, I followed the recipe, and was left with enormous chunks of butter in my batter, even after I spent endless minutes attempting to incorporate all the ingredients. I don't think the batter is supposed to be chunky, does this look normal?
Up close, it reminds me of tapioca pudding... which I DON'T think is the consistency I'm looking for.
3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
- I had mine in for, literally, 25 minutes each batch. I'm pretty sure there is something seriously wrong with my parents' oven. Helpful tip, that I am sure all of you "bakers" know, but I always use an ice cream scoop to measure out the batter for each liner. It always provides the perfect amount, AND all of the cupcakes are pretty close in size. I'm all about uniformity, it's the type-A personality in me.
4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter.
Okay, so, problem with this recipe. The cupcakes were gorgeous in color, but they turned out tasting much more BUTTERY than VANILLA--Y. Plus, there was this horrible layer of grease at the bottom of each liner that I had to wipe off as I took each cupcake out of the pan. Could this be due to the fact that my butter wanted to stay chunky in my batter? I don't know... all I know is, as cool as it is to make cupcakes from scratch, I've had better ones from the box. With that being said, I'm not really sure if I should count this recipe as a success or a failure... someone else try this recipe and tell me how yours turn out.
What everyone REALLY wants to see: Nichelle's decorating. ADORABLE. She created a garden, with each cupcake being a separate plot containing a different candy vegetable. I had these come to my house not long after I got back from church on Sunday-
Aren't these cute? Lettuce, peas, and carrots. My favorite were the peas: I'm pretty sure they were made out of gummy "strings," taffy, and M&M's. Uhhh, yum! Unfortunately, the cupcakes were a bit of a blow to my ego that afternoon. Having sat a night in Nichelle's waiting to be frosted, they dried out considerably. Luckily her decorating saved them. Ah well, back to square one...