Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vanilla Cupcakes: The Best Recipe

Man, CI wasn't kidding when they found The Best Recipe. I loved how the Magnolia cupcakes looked but to be perfectly honest, they didn't blow my skirt up. I just knew there had to be a better cake out there and with one final attempt on vanilla, I tried the one from my favorite recipe book (okay, only [legit] recipe book). These cakes came out so light and moist and completely melt-in-your-mouth quality. This is absolutely the best cake I've ever made.

I even lacked almond extract and so I added an extra tablespoon of vanilla (as opposed to the 1 called for) and it was delicious. The recipe in CI's book is for a white cake with raspberry-almond filling so the extract would certainly compliment the cake, no doubt, but that was not my intent. Simple vanilla was more than enough!

Source: The Best Recipe, Cook's Illustrated

1 cu milk (room temperature)
3/4 cu egg whites (about 6 large or 5 extra large), room temperature
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups plain cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 9 by 1 1/2-inch or 2-inch round cake pans with vegetable shortening and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper or wax paper. Grease parchment rounds, dust cake pans with flour and tap out excess. (Skip this and just throw some cupcake liners into a pan and you're set.)

2. Pour milk, egg whites and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

3. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery ingredients remaining.

4. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

5. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until cake needle or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. (Adjust lesser for cupcakes, around 17-20 minutes.)

6. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto greased cake racks. Reinvert onto additional greased racks. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

Adapted from Magnolia's Buttercream

Makes enough for one 2-layer 9-inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

6 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


jewels said...

Oh my God, so this really is the BEST recipe for white cake! I made it last night for my teacher's birthday, and I honestly cannot stop eating it!!! i'm starting to feel a little bit disgusting :p. Everyone was asking for the recipe. For the frosting, I used the fudge from this recipe...

because I had most of it left over from something else, and blended it until smooth with a cup of milk... it tasted really yummy if you want to try.

Anyways, I just wanted to say thank you SO much for posting this!

Margot said...

How many cupcakes did this make for you?

Niki said...

Hi Margot! This recipe made about two dozen cupcakes. :)