Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Plain Delicious Cupcakes!

When I teach cake decorating, I am asked a lot about a really good yellow cake recipe. I, like many of my students, am always looking for a moist, slightly dense basic cake recipe. I found a really nice recipe online at Cake Central. It was a little sweet for my taste so I altered the ingredients a bit and came away with a recipe that is very reliable. I  use it for cakes and cupcakes. The recipe makes a little more than you would need for 8 inch pans but is perfect for two 9 inch pans. If you are making an 8 inch cake, I recommend having a couple of cupcake liners ready in a cupcake pan for the leftover batter.

For topping my cupcakes, I stayed Plain Jane with a Meringue Buttercream. I have been making this buttercream for the last fifteen years. You need a stand mixer for this recipe as it mixes a long time and the motor of a hand mixer will burn out.

The garnish on top of the cupcakes is heart shaped edible glitter. I love the simplicity of the cupcake. The moist cupcake lightly scented with vanilla blends beautifully with the creamy butter cream. I used a large round tip, 1A, to pipe a large spiral on top of the cupcake. I frequently dress up my cupcakes and I am a huge fan of the Hello Cupcake books. Yet when something is plain delicious, all you really need is a napkin.

Here is how you make them:

Classic Yellow Cake

* 2 ½ cups sifted cake flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 pound (2 sticks) sweet butter, room temperature
* 1 ¾ cups sugar
* 4 large egg yolks
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* 1 cup sour cream
* 4 large egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and line the bottom of two 8 x 3-inch baking pans with parchment and dress a cupcake tin with a few liners.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color, about 2 minutes on medium speed.
Add the sugar and continue to mix until fluffy and light.
Add the egg yolks, one at a time, being sure each is well incorporated before adding the next one. Add the vanilla.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour. Be sure the mixture is completely blended after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat for 1 minute.
In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula.
Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake until a tester comes out with moist crumbs attached. cool on a rack for ten minutes.
Remove from pans and cool to room temperature.

Meringue Buttercream

This recipe is formulated using a standing Kitchen Aid mixer. It will produce optimal results.

This a soft icing. It may not be appropriate for beginners making roses or other items that require a stiff icing consistency. It is best used for icing a cake which requires a thin consistency.

1 1/2 cups egg whites, room temperature
3 cups sugar
3 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar and whisk until well blended. Set the bowl on top of a double boiler of barely simmering water and stir constantly with the whip until the mixture is approx. 140 degrees using an instant read thermometer.

Transfer to a large mixer bowl and beat on high with the whip attachment until the meringue is cool and forms stiff peaks. This takes quite a while..up to 10 minutes so a stand mixer is necessary. You may speed cooling process by putting a bowl of ice water under the mixing bowl, after a few minutes of initial mixing.
Slowly add the soft butter (approx. 67 degrees) about 2 TBSP at a time while beating with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Make sure the butter is incorporated before adding more. Should the icing begin to look curdled, do not despair. Keep mixing and the icing should come together. Curdling means that the butter was added too quickly.
Add the vanilla extract.
This icing should be chilled after icing cake or for storage. Bring to room temperature and whip lightly before icing cake.
Icing may be stored one week under proper storage conditions or two months in the freezer well wrapped and sealed airtight. Yield: 10 cups(Freezes well!)

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