I reckon every baker should have at least one good vanilla cupcake recipe in their repertoire. And I have just the recipe for you. It’s the best vanilla cupcake I’ve made to-date.
The vanilla cake base is adapted from the Cupcake Project. The cake was tested by 50 bakers at the Cupcake Project, and was bestowed the “Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake” title. It's really that good! The cake is soft, moist, fluffy, and most importantly, very vanilla-y. It’s easy to make too, which is a bonus.
I have adapted the recipe slightly. I have reduced the amount of sugar from 225grams to 150grams. I also used vanilla sugar to give the cake extra vanilla oomph. I always have a jar of vanilla caster sugar handy in the kitchen. It’s easy to make vanilla sugar. Don’t discard the vanilla pods after you have scraped off the seeds. Simply bury the used vanilla pods in a jar of caster sugar, and you will be surprise by how much vanilla flavour has infuse into the sugar in just a couple of days.
The fluffy vanilla icing that I used for the cupcakes is my favourite. It tastes like vanilla ice-cream. It’s adapted from Peyton and Byrne British Baking. In my opinion, there’s no better icing than this to complement a vanilla cake this good.
Very Vanilla Cupcakes
(Vanilla cake adapted from Cupcake Project. Vanilla icing adapted from Peyton and Byrne British Baking.)
Makes 12 cupcakes
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
150 (3/4 cup) caster sugar (I used vanilla caster sugar)
175 grams (1 3/4 cups) cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
57 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, soften, cut into small cubes
2 large eggs, room temperature
75 grams (1/3 cup) full-fat sour cream
60ml (1/4 cup) canola oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure (not imitation) vanilla extract
160ml (2/3 cup) whole milk
Fluffy Vanilla Icing
2 large egg whites (about 80 grams)
100 (1/2 cup) gram caster sugar (I used vanilla caster sugar)
175 gram unsalted butter, soften, cut into small cubes
60 ml (1/4 cup) whole milk, room temperature
1 tsp pure (not imitation) vanilla extract
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla pod
To make Vanilla Cake:
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius (160 degrees celsius fan-forced). Line standard cupcake pan with paper cases.
Rub vanilla seeds (scraped from 1 vanilla pod) into caster sugar (or vanilla caster sugar) to break up any lumps and until vanilla seeds are evenly distributed in the sugar.
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add butter, and beat at low-medium speed until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stop mixer.
In a seperate bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, vanilla extract and milk until smooth.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the egg mixture to the flour mixture until just combine. This should take only half a minute. It's okay if the batter may still look a little lumpy. Remove the bowl from the mixer, using a rubber spatula, give the batter a quick mix, scrapping down the side and bottom of the bowl. The batter will be runny and may still be a little lumpy.
Pour the batter through a medium-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl to remove any lumps. Press against the solids in the sieve with a rubber spatula to push through as much batter as possible, then discard the lumps. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until the tops spring back when lightly pressed and a tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.
To make Fluffy Vanilla Icing:
Combine the egg whites and caster sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk continuously by hand until the egg white mixture reaches 70°C on a sugar thermometer. (You can make this icing without a sugar thermometer. Simply whisk until the sugar is dissolved (about 8-10 minutes). Test by rubbing a small amount between your fingertips; it should feel completely smooth, without sugar grains.)
When the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is warm to the touch, remove the bowl from the pan. Using an electric hand-held whisk, whisk for about 10 minutes until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled (checked by touching the bottom of the bowl). The meringue needs to be completely cooled before you add the butter.
Start adding small lumps of the softened butter a little at a time, whisking well after each addition and scraping down the bowl from time to time. The icing may appear to curdle and split as you add the butter, but keep going and it will come back together again. Gradually add the milk and the vanilla extract and seeds until everything is well incorporated and the icing is smooth.
Spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe swirls onto the cupcake.