Oh vanilla cupcakes, you look so sweet and innocent but can be such a bugger sometimes! One would think such a recipe would be easy to conjure but cupcakes come with their own set of challenges. One time I baked close to 10 batches of cupcakes trying to find ones that had the perfect dome (not an easy feat!). These Vanilla Cupcakes are my go-to recipe for birthday parties and class functions. They are light, moist and flavorful; they have the just-right amount of dome and are sturdy enough to hold up to all types of fillings and toppings. They will quickly become your Essential Vanilla Cupcakes too!
After trying countless cupcake recipes, I happened across this recipe for cupcakes by chance. I was working on developing a scratch cake recipe that acted like a cake mix when doctored and when I baked this recipe as cupcakes it came out almost exactly like what I was looking for. A few more tweaks and it was just right.
The trouble with cupcakes is that they are a completely different animal than cake. The quick cook time and the tiny baking pan subject them to different forces and therefore call for a differently engineered recipe. Try baking a standard cake recipe in a cupcake tin (especially a rich recipe like mine tend to be) and cupcakes will often end up flat and dense. To me, cupcakes should be light and fluffy and moist. What often happens is that the abundant wall support from the small pan and over leavening cause the cupcakes to rise quickly and then sink flat. This recipe uses a number of techniques to prevent this.Here are some of the features of this recipe that make it work:
- Low level leavening: I feel that this is one of the most important features of a good cupcake recipe. This recipe has only one teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda (mostly to neutralize excessive acidity from the sour cream). This allows the cupcakes to rise slowly and therefore develop and strong under girding of structure which will prevent post-oven sinking.
- Minimal mixing: This recipe is mixed all on low speed, not to prevent toughening (which is unlikely in a recipe with this much fat and sugar) but rather to minimize incorporation of air (mechanical leavening). As stated above, we want a good structure to develop as the cupcake is rising. This cupcake should only dome right before the end of baking time; a sort of harmony of rise and set.
- Variety of fats: This recipe contains fat from butter, oil, whole milk and sour cream. The hodgepodge of fats gives a lovely balance of flavor, moisture and texture.
- Egg yolks: The extra egg yolks in these cupcakes adds not only fat and flavor but the extra emulsifiers ensure a nice distribution of fats. This helps with overall moisture and texture as well as shelf life.
- Flour and starch: This recipe uses a combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch which yields a resilient cupcake with a fine delicate texture.
- Vanilla: I use 2 tablespoons of vanilla in this recipe to give it a full vanilla flavor. If you are really bold you could increase this by another tablespoon or add any other variety of flavorings.
I have filled these cupcakes with pastry cream and key lime pie filling and cheesecake. I have made them with a graham cracker crust on the bottom and doctored them in a myriad of ways. They are very sturdy and hold up well.The next time you have cupcakes to make give these beauties a try. You may want to keep a few in the freezer for sugar emergencies as well!
- 16 ounces (454 grams) granulated sugar-2 ¼ cups
- 2 ounces (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened- ¼ cup
- 5 ounces (142 grams) vegetable oil- 2/3 cup
- 3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vanilla extract
- 14 ounces (397 grams) all- purpose/plain flour- 2 ¾ cup
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) salt
- 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon (1 milliliter) baking soda
- 8 ½ ounces (241 grams) sour cream-1 cup
- ½ cup (118 milliliters) whole milk
- Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C) and line cupcake pans with 24 paper liners.
- Combine butter, oil and sugar in a mixer bowl and blend on low for about 1 minute until combined but not fluffy or light. Add eggs and yolks one at a time and mix on low until just absorbed by the butter-sugar mixture about 1 minute. Add vanilla extract and mix on low until blended.
- Sprinkle in the dry ingredients and mix on low until moistened, about 1 minute. Combine the sour cream and milk in a container with a pour spout. With mixer on low gradually add the milk mixture and then mix for 1 minute on low until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
- Divide batter between the liners using a ¼ cup ice cream scoop filling 2/3 full and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back slightly when gently pressed. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then move to a cooling rack. Cool completely before icing or store in an airtight container. Can be frozen unfrosted.
- Makes about 24 cupcakes