Try-it Tuesday: Best Vanilla Cupcakes EVER

I told you that I planned to share the vanilla cupcake recipe from last week’s Five Things Thursday link-up (if you still want to link up or leave a comment, you can! Also, go here if you missed yesterday’s announcement about this week’s theme), but I had planned on waiting until I made them for Della’s birthday next month.

Unfortunately, yesterday’s Try-it Tuesday prep did not exactly, um, go as planned.

So, how about a recipe for:

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The Best Vanilla Cupcakes EVER

1 3/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)…and yes, the cake flour really does make a difference…best way to get fluffy cupcakes!

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 tbsp (yes, TABLESPOON) baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1” cubes

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°F

2. A couple of quick notes about this recipe: I only ever make it as mini-cupcakes—soooo good and so dangerously addictive. I usually halve the recipe, which will give you 48 mini-cupcakes or about 15 standard cupcakes. So, keep in mind, that if you make the full recipe, you will end up with about 100 mini-cupcakes.

Move-it Monday Abbie says she really hopes you have a party to take them to if you make the full batch. ; ).

Choose the correct number/size of paper liners according to the size of the batch of batter you’re making, and line your cupcake pans.

3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed until combined, then add butter cubes and mix just until coated with flour.

4. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla and almond extracts. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients to butter/dry mixture in 3 parts, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula before each addition. Do NOT overbeat (everything should be incorporated but not frothy).

5. Fill standard or mini-cupcake liners 2/3 full, and bake, rotating pan halfway through.

Standard cupcake cook time: 17-20 minutes

Mini-cupcake cook time: 9-12 minutes

*These cupcakes are done the instant a toothpick comes out clean, they do not have to be golden! Don’t over-bake!

6. Cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

And what would cupcakes be without great frosting?  This is a cream cheese frosting (I’m of the mind that cream cheese frosting is the answer to world peace, and I would probably eat it on mud if you offered it to me; yeah, I like it a lot), but it’s simply a variation of the basic frosting recipe I use for every cake I make. It’s nothing revolutionary, but there are some tips that might help you if you’ve ever struggled like I have to get your frosting just so

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 cup butter

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese (if you just want plain frosting, you can replace the cr. cheese with another 1/2 cup of butter…oh, I just felt my cholesterol levels shoot way up)

6-8 cups of (good) powdered sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp almond extract

Milk (up to 1/2 a cup)

*Again, I usually halve this recipe. This makes a LOT of frosting!

1. The key to good frosting is the butter. It must be the real thing (no margarine or other substitutes), and it must be the right consistency. I set mine out about 10-20 minutes before I begin to make my frosting to take the chill off. It will still hold its shape (if you were to poke it, you would have to push a little to make an impression) but is not ice cold/rock hard.

I also like to womanhandle (as opposed to manhandle…we are talking cake here, people) the cream cheese a bit to warm it and smoosh it around a little.

Beat butter and and cream cheese in mixer until smooth.

2. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, scraping down the sides with a spatula after every addition.

3. Add milk 1 tbsp at a time (it’s really easy to add too much milk, which is very hard to fix, so proceed with caution) after each cup of powdered sugar.

4. Add in both extracts and mix to combine.

*This is very much so a process. I do this bit by bit until I have a nice, thick, semi-stiff frosting. You will probably use more powdered sugar than you expect to.

5. Load up a piping bag with a large star tip (sorry, I don’t know what size mine is, but it’s pretty wide), and pipe a swirl of frosting on each cupcake. (For the cupcakes in my picture at the top, I used 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese because it was all I had, but I highly recommend going for the full-fat stuff because it is very hard to make frosting that will hold a really pretty shape without using the good stuff).

And…you’re done!

Honestly, I’m not usually a huge fan of vanilla cake, but the almond extract makes these something truly special. It’s just a hint of this magical tasting yumminess that no one can ever quite identify, but the reaction is always good. I’ve made these for several birthday, baby showers, bridal showers, etc., and the response is always: “Oh. my. goodness. These are amazing!” usually said while someone is reaching for another one. The recipe is not original to me, though I have tweaked it a bit over the years, and the addition of the almond extract is mine. I would give proper credit, but I can’t remember where I found it anymore.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I (and my hips) always do!

So, how about you? Do you have any fantastic cake recipes or any signature tips to share? I would love to hear them (almost as much as I’ll enjoy tasting them!). If you have a link to share, make sure to put it in the comments. I know we all love hearing about fabulous new recipes!

See you tomorrow for Wardrobe Wednesday!

P.S. I’ll make sure to update with more pics when I make them for Della’s party.

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3 thoughts on “Try-it Tuesday: Best Vanilla Cupcakes EVER

  1. So, I started a tradition (well…can it be a tradition if you’ve only done it twice so far?) of making a harvest cake when the leaves start turning. It’s A-mazing. It has carrots, parsnips, zucchini and a granny smith apple in it so you’re pretty much getting in all your fruits and veggies, right? right?. And the best part is…watch it now…the cider-cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Oh, I just went there. It is so ridiculously delicious and perfect for the fall. I’m not super computer literate so I don’t really know how to include a link in here or post and I don’t have a blog, but if anyone wants the recipe I’d be more than happy to send it your way! Yay for fall. It’s beautiful up here in Seattle.

  2. These look yummy, Abs! I’m definitely pinning them for future reference (even though we are gluten free- sometimes we choose to be “bad”). Hope today goes smoothly for you and the babes.

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