Simple Vanilla Cupcakes
These cupcakes are easy to make and have a slightly denser texture, whilst still being a very light sponge. The denser texture is a nice contrast to a soft butter cream icing. The cakes keep well for around four days and the vanilla flavouring can easily be substituted for an almond flavouring or anything else you feel like using.
225g or 8 oz plain flour
1 and a half tsp baking powder
Quarter tsp salt
125g or 4 and a half oz soft unsalted butter
175g or 6 oz caster sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
80ml whipping cream at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan oven)/ 170°C/ Gas Mark 3 and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases
Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl to thoroughly mix the dry ingredients
In a different large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. The butter needs to be really soft in order to do this and the longer you cream together the butter and sugar for, the lighter the mixture becomes and the lighter the sponge becomes as a result
Mix the eggs together with a fork and add a little at a time to the sugar and butter. You need to be careful at this point as the mixture can curdle if you are too liberal with the amount of egg you add, so make sure you are only adding around half an egg at a time and thoroughly mix between each addition. If you feel the mix is about to curdle then add a small amount of flour in with the egg.
Once all the eggs are incorporated, then add the dry ingredients, cream and vanilla. You need to mix this stage by hand so and keep an eye on it so that the mixture is not over mixed.
Fill the 12 cases. If you want a flat topped cupcake, then place a heaped tablespoon of mixture into each case and if you want a domed cupcake, then fill the cases three quarters full. Bake the cupcakes in the centre of an oven for 30 – 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out and the cakes are golden brown on top
If the cakes crack, press them down with the back a spoon as soon as they come out of the oven. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Vanilla Butter Cream Icing
500g or 1lb 1 and a half oz icing sugar
150g or 5 oz soft unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 drops of food colouring
50 ml milk
Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and cream together with the butter until light and fluffy. It will seem like there’s far too much icing sugar for the amount of butter but if you persevere then it will come together. I used a wooden spoon for this and had to work very hard to cream the mixture and get a smooth result.
Add the vanilla and food colouring and gradually add enough milk to form a reasonably stiff paste. You want the butter cream stiff enough to hold its shape once piped but not so stiff it’s impossible to pipe with.
Put the icing into a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle and pipe on top of cupcakes. I found that when piping, I needed to pipe each part of the spiral of icing on top of the cakes very closely to the pervious part so that no gaps formed. Obviously cover any gaps with another bit of piping but it’s not as satisfying as piping a continuous spiral to cover the whole cake top.
Add any decorations whilst the butter cream is still wet so that they sit nicely on top of the cupcakes. I used the gum paste butterflies I made in the previous article to decorate the majority of the cupcakes. I used the same colour of food colouring to dye both the butter cream and the gum paste, but used more colour in the gum paste to create a stronger colour to contrast with the butter cream.