Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vanilla

One of the benefits of having kids in the house is that I don't have to make fancy things all the time. I have never held my breath in anticipation of a souffle falling. I've never used a kitchen torch for creme brulee. I've never once constructed a torte. Cupcakes, cookies and brownies are just fine.

Though I generally like a little more flavor to the things in my life, I am surrounded by people who love all that is vanilla. Who will only buy vanilla ice cream. Who actually request white cake. I don't really have anything against plain vanilla, don't get me wrong. It's just not what I would ever choose given other options.

Ally brought me a page from a magazine last week and asked if I could make the cupcakes in the picture. Mostly they drew her attention because they were topped with fluffy pink frosting. I laughed when I saw the title. Vanilla cupcakes. Sure, I'll make them. But I'm going to change a few things first. ;)

Never content to leave a recipe alone, I tweaked it a bit. I made them last night. I accidentally overfilled the cupcake pan and they overflowed a little. AJ was pretty happy about it though, since he got the pieces of the cupcakes that didn't survive the extraction process. I have to say that even though these are just plain old vanilla cupcakes, they are the best ones you've ever tasted.

Vanilla Cupcakes
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, plus 2 more egg yolks
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk (If you don't have buttermilk, you can make it. Put 1 tbsp white vinegar in a measuring cup and add milk to make 1 cup. Let it sit a few minutes before using.

Beat butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, then buttermilk. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture. Beat until smooth. Fill lined cupcake pan 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen cupcakes.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, I make the frosting. I'd like to tell you that there is a real recipe, but it's not that simple. You just make it.

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar

To make it, you start but combining the butter and vanilla. Add 2 tbsp milk, then start adding sugar a little at a time. Stir until smooth, then see if you need to add more. If it gets too thick, add a tiny bit more milk. Too thin, add more sugar. It's not an exact science. You want it just a little on the thinner side since it will set a bit. Let it sit for about 15 minutes to thicken, stirring occasionally. By the time the cupcakes have cooled it should be a good consistency to frost with. Frost cupcakes, then let sit at room temperature until frosting sets.

The cupcakes I made last night had orange frosting, done just by adding red and yellow food coloring until the desired color was achieved. Again, it's not a science. But, it's so worth it to make your own frosting.

Make, bake, frost and share. They're pretty good, even if they are just vanilla.

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