Wednesday, April 7, 2010

vanilla cupcakes

Exciting news: this is my first post from our new kitchen! (More on that soon.)

Last weekend, while we were taking a break from moving to get a bite to eat, I discovered a gem in San Carlos: a small, independently owned "kitchen essentials" shop, packed with much, much more than just essentials. It's one of those places that has Le Creuset croquettes in more colors than I realized existed and spatulas to match. I could have spent hours there, but I was with JR and we had approximately 10 minutes until our take out late lunch would be ready, so was forced to browse fast.

The timing for stumbling onto this jem was perfect: I was in need of a cupcake cookbook. One of my friends at work is a budding baker with a penchant for cupcakes. This past week marked the celebration of her birthday as well as a bittersweet going away gathering (she's soon transferring to another team: I'm very happy for her for the new opportunity but sad that it means I won't get to see her on a daily basis anymore). I had a fairly generic cupcake cookbook in one hand when I spotted The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

If you've seen this cookbook, you will most likely understand why I was drawn to it. The cover pictures the most perfect-looking platter of buttery, sugary treats. Through a scan of the beautiful pages, I learn the platter's contents: Hummingbird brownies, hazelnut and chocolate cupcakes, blueberry cake, brooklyn blackout cake, a coconut and pineapple cupcake, and a perfectly pink vanilla cupcake. Sold.

When I made my purchase, I knew that in addition to gifting the cookbook, I'd make something out of it for the birthday girl. The perfectly pink vanilla cupcake fit the bill.

Robyn, this pink cupcake is for you - I know you aren't going far, but I miss you terribly already!

Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 12

1 c. all purpose flour
a scant 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. whole milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 quantity vanilla frosting (recipe below)
sprinkles to decorate

Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla, and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the batter is smooth. Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter into the paper cases until 2/3 full. Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the cake bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the center should come out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes have fully cooled, spoon vanilla frosting on top and decorate with sprinkles.

Vanilla Frosting
Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

2 c. confectioners' sugar
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. whole milk
a couple drops of pure vanilla extract
a couple drops food coloring (optional)

Beat the sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment on medium-low speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a lower speed. Combine the milk and vanilla in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of teaspoons at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the lighter and fluffier it becomes. Tint the frosting any shade you like with a couple of drops of food coloring mixed in until evenly incorporated.

One year ago: cauliflower curry

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