I love to bake and I love to cook. I find both activities very satisfying, especially when they turn out as expected, or better than. Like so many people around the world right now, we are restricting our outdoor activities and spending the majority of time at home. And like so many, I have been feeling a certain understandable and expected degree of anxiety about… well everything right now.
This is where baking and cooking comes in. I find it therapeutic and at the end of the process, I usually have something delicious to eat. Which reminds me, I need to start making some healthier social distancing snacks for when things turn towards the better! I may be a just a little too baking happy right now!
Today, in the spirit of keeping busy and answering the age old question of “what’s there to eat?” I decided to challenge myself to make some vanilla cupcakes based off of a formula rather than a strict recipe. Kind of like when I made a banana bread in much the same way, I went looking for some tried and true methods and found this helpful site that allowed me to figure it out.
Here’s how mine turned out:
There were a few things I wanted in my recipe that influenced some ingredients that otherwise may not have been included in the basic formula. For example, I love sour cream in cakes. It lends to a tender crumb that makes everything so, so much better. Once there is sour cream or greek yogurt (a good substitute for sour cream) in your cake recipe, you’ll need to add baking soda to the mix. This is because sour cream and the greek yogurt are acidic and the baking soda reacts with them to give a light, yet moist cake.
I also wanted to ensure that the cupcakes were as light as possible and so I used egg whites alone instead of whole eggs. Also, I used melted butter because that too also lends a softer texture to the cupcakes.
Another change I made was to use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract. It gave a more vanilla-y taste and the aesthetics of those little black flecks in both the cupcakes and the frosting were quite appealing. (Here’s a pic of the brand I used but please note this is not a sponsored post! It is my first time using the paste instead of the extract or the bean itself and I just wanted to share).
Now, on to the recipe. According to the interwebs, this is the basic formula you should follow for perfect cakes. Now, I have some experience baking and I had to adjust the milk content to get the batter to how I think I should look and feel. I’m sure environmental factors like heat and altitude would possibly cause varying results, but for the most part, I am confident in this formula.
-Sugar must equal to flour (by weight, not volume)
-Eggs plus milk must equal to flour
-Fat must equal to eggs
Some other rules:
For every one cup of flour, use
-1 tsp of baking powder (I kept it at 1 tsp even though I had more flour because of the other leavening agents present in the cupcakes already)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp of baking soda (as we are using sour cream in our recipe)
My numbers didn’t come out exact because, well, real life LOL! But I did try to get as close to what was required as was possible. So without further ado, here’s the recipe.
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
- measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- Cupcake tin
- Cupcake papers
- Bamboo skewer for testing
- 1 2/3 cup flour all purpose (200 g approx)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter (113 g approx), melted
- 1 cup sugar granulated (200 g approx)
- 3 large egg whites (110 g approx), room temperature
- 3/4 cup milk almond, cashew or regular cow's, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 4 cups icing sugar extra in case frosting is too thin, sifted for lumps
- 2 sticks butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup heavy cream extra in case frosting is too thick
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add cupcake liners to cupcake tin.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the dry ingredients i.e.flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a separate medium sized bowl, mix together the wet ingredients i.e. the melted butter, sugar, egg whites, sour cream, milk and vanilla bean paste.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined. Be careful not to overmix but do not leave too many, if any, flour lumps.
- Add by 1/4 cupfuls to the cupcake papers.
- Bake for 20-23 minutes, depending on your oven. Skewer should be dry when testing for doneness. I had to go for 23 minutes.
- Remove from cupcake tin and allow to cool completely on cooling rack before piping with frosting.
For the Vanilla Frosting
- Add the room temperature butter to the bowl of your mixer (standing or hand, but I used standing) and beat until it looks paler in colour.
- Add the icing sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla bean paste and beat until well combined.
- If the frosting is too thick, add a tablespoon at a time of heavy cream to thin it out a little. If it is too thin, add some sifted icing sugar to thicken up.
Have an up close look at those beautiful flecks of vanilla bean. I highly recommend at least trying it once if you’ve never before!
And last but not least, take a look at the crumb. The sour cream and melted butter did their jobs well.
Let me know if you’ve ever tried cupcakes from a formula instead of a strict recipe and how it turned out. And for sure I’d love to know if you tried this particular recipe and how it worked for you.
Before I leave you to go rush off to try your hand at these goodies, I want to wish you all calm in the midst of this uncertainty and safety and good health to you and yours.