Friday, July 24, 2009

SOUTHERN LIVING'S VANILLA CUPCAKES



If you are looking for a great recipe for cupcakes, look no further. Southern Living did it again! The recipe for Basic Vanilla Cake Batter in their March 2009 magazine has it all. Moist, tender, and delicious, these cupcakes will have you coming back for more. I frosted most of mine with Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate Frosting” flavored with vanilla and peppermint – yummm! A few were frosted with SL’s Mint Chocolate Chip Buttercream Frosting (also yummm.)


One of the keys to success in this recipe is using a low-protein flour. Regular all-purpose flour will work, but you’ll need to slightly reduce the amount, and the crumb won’t be as tender and light. If you read the reviews for this recipe online, you'll note that quite a few readers had poor results. I'd like to bet they used all-purpose flour, and they scooped it rather than lightly spooning it. In the southeast US, where I live, White Lily all-purpose flour is readily available. While it’s not a cake flour, it is lower in protein than all-purpose and works very well with this recipe. The bad news is you'll be eating bleached flour. If that bothers you, use unbleached all-purpose with the changes noted above. Be sure to whisk or sift, then lightly spoon the flour into the measuring cup. The way you measure flour will determine how good your cake is. You can actually get almost 1/4 cup more flour in some recipes if you "scoop" the flour instead of lightly spooning it. I always whisk my flour well before spooning it, because it packs down in the container during storage.

The other ingredient making these cupcakes tender and moist is buttermilk. If you don't have any, not to worry. Just add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of sweet milk, and let stand for 5-10 minutes before using.

Nielsen-Massey Vanilla bean paste can be purchased at Williams Sonoma or online. It has real vanilla bean seeds in it, and is the closest jarred vanilla product to actually scraping the pod yourself.

Vanilla Cupcakes
Adapted ½ recipe from Southern Living
Rating: 10 out of 10

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 large eggs (or use 2 medium)
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or 1-1/4 tsp. vanilla)
1-1/2 cups cake flour (I used White Lily all-purpose.)
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. sea salt
½ cup low-fat buttermilk

Heat oven to 350F.  Place baking cups in 12 muffin tin wells; spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In medium bowl, beat sugar and butter with electric mixer using medium speed, until creamy and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add whole egg and beat till yellow disappears; repeat with ½ egg (or 2nd egg if using). Beat in flavoring.

In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to wet mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at medium-low speed just until blended after each addition. Batter will be thick. Spoon batter into cups, filling ¾ full. Bake 18-22 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in center of cupcake returns with just a few crumbs. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack and cool completely (about 1 hour). Spread with desired frosting. Yield: 12 cupcakes

36 comments:

Donna-FFW said...

10 out of 10 .. you know this is my project for the weekend. I so enjoyed your tips on flour also. I will take mental note of it. Thank you. I love both frostings you chose.

Sylwia said...

Judy, these look delicious! I have to try it. I recently made vanilla cupcakes for my daughter and really liked Amy Sedaris's recipe...I was surprised how great they turned out. I'm not a cupcake fan but I really loved this recipe. Something tells me that I'll be making more of them very soon.

Chow and Chatter said...

these look great and great tips, wow low protein flour new to me, your tips remind me of my Grandma LOL Rebecca

Nithya said...

Looks absolutely yummmmmmmmmmmmmm... will be trying it out soon.

Mary said...

No one can resist a muffin like yours!

Brent said...

Excellent recipe! I will pass this on to my mother who is confident cupcakes are the perfect gift for every occasion.

I found really great vanilla paste and vanilla beans at Beanilla Trading Company http://www.beanilla.com the beans are far better than what we can get in the store and cost half the price ($1-2 / bean).

Thanks again

Judy said...

Brent, Thanks for the tip on vanilla purchases. Will definitely check it out.

Kathy said...

Judy - I think your modifications from the original recipe sound better.

And if you want to be adventurous, you could try low protein whole wheat pastry flour. I will try making them that way & post the results on my site.

Valerina said...

Thank you for the flour measuring tip. My scale has been broken for almost a year now and I am always paranoid about my flour accuracy. Whisking it before scooping makes perfect sense. :)

Those cupcakes with the mint buttercream frosting look divine!

teresa said...

oh wow, these look SOO good, and i love the frosting as well! nothing like a yummy cupcake!

Marge said...

I love recipes from Southern Living. These look great! Thanks for all the tips - they'll really come in handy!

Judy said...

Kathy, I love ww pastry flour but don't have any at the moment. What I do have is a lot of other flours to use up, so I decided not to go that route. After I use up my flours, I may make these again with the ww pastry flour. Let me know how yours turn out.

Kerstin said...

Oh, they do sound perfect, yum! Thanks for the tip on the vanilla bean paste, I'll have to look for it!

Linda said...

The vanilla cupcakes sound wonderful! Thanks....

biz319 said...

OMG Judy - those cupcakes look like heaven!!

Sophie said...

MMMMMMMMM,...these vanilla cupcakes look so beautiful & tasty!

Linda said...

Judy, I have a perfectly good recipe for vanilla cupcakes (Magnolia's recipe), but the closeup of yours persuades me to branch out. :) Plus, I love buttermilk in ANY cakey recipe. I'll try it and let you know how it compares!

jackie at phamfatale.com said...

mmm, your cupcake look so moist and the second frosting looks to die for

Palidor said...

Yummy, yummy, yummy!!

Reeni♥ said...

I bet these were tender and delicious! Love the chocolate peppermint frosting!

Hairball said...

Your cupcakes look scrumptious!!

I am currently too far west to be able to buy White Lily at the grocery store, but I really enjoyed baking with it in the past. Here's another source for vanilla beans to add to your list. :)

Judy said...

Mrs. Hairball -- So nice to hear from you, you are being missed. Thanks for the link to premium vanilla beans. I think I'll order some.

Jackie said...

Hi Judy

Is this the full recipe, I want to use this recipe to make a layer cake.

Judy said...

Jackie, this is a half recipe. If you click on the SL link I've provided, you can find the full recipe.

sparkedillusion said...

Hi Judy!! I tried thie recipe and LOVED it!!! :D :D :D its so moist and soft!!

Can I ask for your advice- I plan to make this recipe into a layer rainbow cake.. Meaning I divide and colour the batter, bake very thin layers on say a 7inch pan and assemble them into a cake using buttercream.
I tried making rainbow cakes using butter cake recipes and it turned out too hard for a cake.

Do you think its possible to tweak this into a cake?

Thank you!!

sparkedillusion said...

sorry!! what I actually meant to ask was how long and the temp do you think I should bake it for if using a 7inch pan and spreading batter around 2cm thick?
the recipe on SL doesnt state the baking temp and time.
Thankyou!!!

-yvonne

Judy said...

Hi Sparked Illusion, Double all ingredients, EXCEPT vanilla and salt. Keep vanilla & salt as is to follow original recipe. Divide batter evenly between 2 8" cake pans. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack and cool completely, about 1 hour. Frost as desired.

sparkedillusion said...

You mean bake for 10mins right?
Sorry this seems like a redundant question but just to play safe, I can divide the batter into more pans (and thus thinner layers) so I get more colored layers?
THANK YOU! (:

Judy said...

Sparked, If you're using 7" pans, divide the batter evenly among 3 pans. Bake at 350F, and set your timer for 15 minutes. Check by eye, then with a toothpick to gauge doneness. Since I don't have 7" pans, I'm not sure how long, but if you monitor closely starting at 15 minutes, you should be ok.

Judy said...

Sparked, The baking time will definitely be related to the amount of batter. If the batter is very thin, start checking at 10 minutes. You'll have to use your best judgment, as I haven't used 7" pans, nor have I made the full recipe.

sparkedillusion said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I really appreciate your tips!! (:

Judy said...

Sparked, Just another thought: since you're experimenting with this recipe, just don't walk away from the oven. Monitor closely and you'll be ok. I hope you'll have a minute to let me know how it turns out.

sparkedillusion said...

hi Judy!
Sorry to bother you again!
I have been baking these in many batches for all my friends and they really enjoyed it!
On my last try i tried to be adventurous and tried making rainbow cupcakes with this batter. So i divided and coloured my batter and stirred quite a lot to incorporate the colour in. The batter turned very liquid and runny after a while, and took around 28mins to bake!
Was it because I stirred too much? I used a mixture of gel and liquid colouring, but even the gel coloured batter turned liquid.

Judy said...

Sparked, It's hard for me to say since I don't know how much coloring you added, and exactly how long your stirred. If the cupcakes tasted okay, none of it matters. If they didn't taste okay, then maybe you added too much additional liquid and stirred too long.

FransFavs said...

Made them, loved them, posted them! :-) http://www.fransfavs.com/2012/11/election-day-cupcakes/#more-4790

Judy said...

FransFavs, thanks for giving me credit, and glad you liked them.