I love making these cupcakes because more often than not, people just want a good vanilla cake. They should be a perfect blend of fluffy and moist, and let’s be honest, the perfect vehicle for a heaping scoop of vanilla bean frosting. I tested countless recipes until I stumbled upon the reverse-creaming method and was so pleased with how it turned out, creating the most perfect and pillowy crumb, that I haven’t looked back since.

Sometimes simple really is best.

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Vanilla Cupcakes (Makes 24 cupcakes)
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature and cut in cubes
4 large eggs, at room temperature

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with liners. Combine milk and vanilla in a measuring cup and set aside. Put both types of flour, sugar, baking powder and sea salt in a mixing bowl and mix on low to combine the dry ingredients for two minutes. Continuing on low speed, add butter cubes a few at a time.  The mixture will look coarse and sandy and continue to mix until it smooths a bit and looks to be grouping into larger chunks. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, mixing until combined after each egg. This takes me roughly 20 seconds per egg. Turn the mixer speed back down to low and slowly mix in milk and vanilla. Continue to mix for 1-2 minutes until the batter looks thick and smooth. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold in any thick batter that settled to the bottom of the bowl. Using a quarter cup ice cream scoop, divide the batter into the cupcake tins filling each one at 2/3 capacity. Bake for about 17-20 minutes and when a cake tester comes out clean remove from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Finally, frost the cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream. (Recipe below)

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Vanilla Bean Buttercream
1 lb. unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into cubes
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

With the mixer on medium, cream the butter for 3 minutes until smooth. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in milk. Mix in the first 3 cups of powdered sugar one cup at a time to avoid a huge mess in your kitchen (speaking from experience!). Slowly incorporate the rest of the sugar. With the mixer turned back up to medium, add vanilla beans and mix for 2 minutes. The consistency should be dense and thicker than the frosting for a cake, similar to softened ice cream. Spread or pipe buttercream on cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

Images via Kimberly Chau; Recipe by Kristina Guilbeau; Styling by Ashley Rose of Sugar and Cloth; Cake stands via Minted and Oh Hello Friend; Illustration by Lisa Chow; Flatware via West Elm


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