A couple of days ago I found myself in the mood for some simple vanilla cupcakes and thought why not do a recipe review? So here goes…
The recipe I followed can be found here. It’s a super basic recipe from taste.com.au with delicious buttercream frosting.
My Overall Rating: 3.5/5
These cupcakes are simple to make and have a beautiful vanilla flavour. The final product is slightly dense and not as moist as I would like for a cupcake, but overall easy and tasty. The frosting is quite sweet (as you would expect with 6 cups of icing sugar!), but I’m a sweet tooth with a frosting obsession, so YUM!
As it’s not my recipe I won’t be giving the specific details of ingredients and methods, you’ll have to follow the link above! I will be giving a basic outline, sharing tips and my overall thoughts on the recipe. The tips I share here can also be applied to most other baking recipes!
First things first, preheat your oven and line those cupcake trays! I noticed the recipe doesn’t differentiate between fan-forced and conventional, simply supplying a temperature of 180 degrees. My oven is fan-forced, so to be safe I set the temp around 170. I noticed the cupcakes took a while to cook, so you’re probably safe with an oven temp of 180 and just keep an eye on the cupcakes as they cook.
Now we start on the cupcake batter.
Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste.
A few tips here:
- The butter needs to be softened otherwise this step is a lot harder and takes more time. Leave your butter out of the fridge for a good couple of hours, depending on the temperature of the room. I also heard once that if you forgot to let your butter soften, grating it does the trick! I’ve never tried it so let me know if you have and it was successful.
- I didn’t have any vanilla bean paste. I used a good quality vanilla extract that I had on hand instead. My cupcakes still had a delicious vanilla flavour, so I recommend this substitution if need be!
Once you have a beautiful creamy, pale mixture, add the eggs, one at a time. Lastly, alternate between adding the milk and flour, stirring each time until combined. The recipe doesn’t call for the flour to be sifted but I tend to sift the flour anyway. It gives the mixture an added airiness and I’ll do whatever it takes for a delicious light and fluffy cupcake! You should now have a lovely smooth cupcake batter that you can spoon evenly into your prepared cupcake trays ready to be cooked.
I have two main tips when it comes to the cooking stage.
- Recipes tend to give a range when it comes to cooking times. Always start with the least amount of time recommended (I sometimes even set my timer to less so I’m sure they won’t overcook). You can always cook the cupcake longer but there’s no coming back from an overcooked cupcake.
- Never leave the cupcakes unattended for long. It really doesn’t take long for the perfect cupcake to turn into a dry, overcooked or even burnt mess! Keep checking on your cupcakes.
When the timer goes off you can use the common trick of inserting a skewer and if it comes out clean, your cupcakes are ready. You can also tell by lightly touching the top of the cupcake. If it still feels wet it’s not quite done, but if it feels lovely and spongey take those cupcakes out! The cupcakes should look golden but don’t let them turn brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack while you get a start on the frosting. YUM!
To start your frosting, beat the butter until pale (once again make sure it’s softened). Next, add the icing sugar in batches and mix until combined each time. Finally, add the milk and give it one last beating. Pretty easy, but I have a few tips here as well!
- Don’t just dump all the milk in! Add it in slowly and watch the consistency as you mix. I didn’t end up using all the milk as I thought the mixture was thinning out too much.
- If you want to pipe the frosting onto your cupcake, place the frosting in the fridge for 5-10 minutes before doing so. This helps it to cool down and thicken up a bit and the frosting will hold its shape a lot better as you pipe.
- For a little extra flavour add some vanilla extract or leftover vanilla bean paste.
Now go ahead and add some colour if you like (I used a red gel food colouring to get a pretty pink colour) and frost your cupcakes. You can spread it on using a knife like the recipe suggests or if you want to get fancy get out your piping set and pipe away. Just remember piping uses a bit more frosting for each cupcake (depending on the look you’re going for) so make sure you accommodate for that.
There you have it! Simple vanilla cupcakes. Make sure once the cupcakes are sufficiently cooled you put them in an airtight container. I didn’t have a container big enough, so I left them in the fridge on a plate for a few hours while I waited for a container and my cupcakes dried out a bit (major sad-face). Luckily, I taste-tested a fresh cupcake as soon as it had cooled, and it had a lovely soft texture, so I’m assuming the drier cupcakes were a result of being out in the open.