Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vanilla Cupcakes for the Cast


My son is in the cast of "Once Upon A Mattress," playing at Penfield High School this weekend. The cast puts in late nights the week leading up to the play, so a group of parents have been bringing in dinner for the cast each night. On Monday, I was assigned the task of dessert for all 70 members of the cast and crew. No problem! I love baking desserts. I made three big batches of cupcakes and I'm happy to report that they were some of the best cupcakes I've made.

The first was what I figured was the safest bet for making kids happy -- vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing. Normally, these wouldn't be my cup of tea because they can be incredibly sweet. Those that aren't can be on the blah side. But these, from Cooks Illustrated, were so delicious that we were nibbling on them before they were even frosted -- and I generally consider frosting to be the best part of the cupcake. In fact, they were so good that this will be my go-to scratch recipe for vanilla cupcakes and vanilla frosting.I don't need to look any further. (Normally I'm funny about including recipes from Cooks Illustrated, because they are protective of their recipes, but this one is all over the internet.) The frosting was a tried-and-true recipe that I've used in the past.

Because "Once Upon a Mattress" is a funny take-off on the "Princess and the Pea," I garnished them with some sparkly sugar and a Runts pea. Although now that I look at them, they'd be kind of cute to serve on St. Patrick's Day. Speaking of St. Patrick's Day, tomorrow is opening night -- tickets are still available!

Large Batch One-Bowl Yellow Cupcakes
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated. If you want to make just a dozen, follow this recipe from Joy of Baking

3 cups (13 oz/375 grams) all purpose flour
2 cups (14 oz/400 grams) granulated white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (cut into pieces)
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and lightly butter or line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed to combine. Add the butter, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and sour cream. Beat at medium speed until the batter is smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. If necessary, stir the batter with a rubber spatula until the flour is fully incorporated.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter (I used the largest Pampered Chef scoop) and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes or until pale gold and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. These cupcakes are best the day they are made, although they will keep for a few days at room temperature.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Quick Vanilla Buttercream Icing

3 cups (375 g) confectioners' sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream (I sometimes go up to 3)

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream. Continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for desired consistency. I used a large star tip to pipe the frosting on the cake.

Frosts 24 cupcakes with a generous amount of frosting.

3 comments:

The Cookbook Junkie said...

I'll have to try these. I've been resorting to boxed mixes for yellow cupcakes because most recipes I try come out dry or just not the texture I want. This recipe sounds very promising.

Tracy said...

I've had the same experience and have resorted to a lot of doctored up mixes. These are deelish and since it's done in one bowl, not that much more work than a boxed mix.

Lori said...

How nice of you to make cupcakes for the cast! My kids wanted to see that one but we did Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I think the High schools do such a great job putting on the plays.

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