Vanilla Cupcakes

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I have been on a lifelong search for THE vanilla cupcake recipe. I want something fluffy, moist and made up of ingredients that are regularly hanging around in my kitchen (buttermilk? Who just HAS buttermilk lying around?!). I don’t know if these are my spirit cupcakes but they are a contender. Easy, light and the recipe makes a nice round dozen (that’s a deal breaker, ladies). My icing of choice will always and forever be cream cheese but vanilla is so versatile that you can chuck anything on it. These particular cupcakes were for a disney princess themed birthday so I went with pink icing and edible pearl baubles.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Very slightly adapted from Vanilla Cupcakes over at Annie’s Eats.

115g butter, room temperature

2/3 cup caster sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup milk

one batch of Cream Cheese Icing, tinted pink

Preheat oven to 175 C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer until pale and fluffy.

Beat the eggs in one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula in between additions.

Beat in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl whisk together the plain flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour mixture in three lots, alternating with two lots of milk.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl then divide the mixture evenly between the 12 paper liners.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place the icing in a piping bag and decorate as desired.

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Lime and Vanilla Cupcakes with Buddercream Icing (Vegan)

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I want to tell you all about a project that a family member of mine is undertaking and is putting all of her passion into. It’s called The Bare Basics and the plan is to publish a cookbook that focuses on moving away from pre-packaged food to easy, nutritious recipes that can be tackled by even the greenest cooks. The brainchild and author is Kelly, a trained nutritionist who just wants people to eat real food without missing out on flavour. Why should you be interested? Well, the recipes are modelled by a group of lovely, oiled up men wearing only the food they’re making. Check out some of the boys here. To get updates and peeks behind the scenes like The Bare Basics on Facebook and if you want to pledge money to get the cookbook published (and get a little somethin’ somethin’ in return) head to their Kickstarter. Kickstarter works by accepting a pledge of money and in return you will be given certain items if the Kickstarter is successful. No money is taken out of your account until the campaign is successfully concluded, if the target goal of money isn’t reached then no one is charged anything. Ever had a dream? Well this is Kelly’s and you can help her out. Give a girl a chance.

On to the recipe! This is my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe, not just my favourite vegan vanilla cupcake recipe. You want to know why you should try it? No dairy or eggs means that you can make it without having to run to the shops because you’re out of milk or you ate your last egg for breakfast. The original recipe used soy milk but I don’t usually have it in the house so water it is. These cakes are fluffy and moist, something that seems rare in a vanilla cupcake these days. I need moisture, people! The recipe achieves this with a very wet batter so don’t freak when the mixture looks really runny, just mix it really well and scoop away. They rise and form domes just like cupcakes that are full of dairy and eggs, you wouldn’t know the difference by eating them. The best fun is feeding them to people then yelling “THEY’RE VEGAN!’ and disappearing in a puff of smoke.

I always use a medium ice-cream scoop to evenly distribute the cake batter but this mixture is so runny that you could even use a 1/4 cup measure for the same purpose. If Buddercream isn’t to your liking then make a glaze by combining 3/4 cup icing sugar with 2 tbsp lime juice, stir well and drizzle over the completely cooled cupcakes. If you do choose to go the Buddercream route just check the ingredients of the margarine to make sure that there are no dairy products in it. Otherwise you will be guilty of the terrible sin that is secretly feeding animal products to a vegan (so secret that you didn’t even know you were doing it!).

Lime and Vanilla Cupcakes with Buddercream Icing (Vegan)

Cupcakes adapted from Golden Vanilla Cupcakes and Icing adapted from Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting, both from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. 

Lime and Vanilla Cupcakes

1 cup water

1 tsp white vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups plain flour

2 tbsp corn flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 175 C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners.

In a bowl large enough to hold the finished batter, whisk together the water, vinegar, salt, oil, sugar and vanilla extract.

Sift in the plain flour, corn flour, baking powder and baking soda and whisk well to combine.

Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure that the mixture is well combined (it will be wet, don’t worry it’s meant to be like that).

Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 paper liners and bake for 20 minutes (if you are using small paper liners then only fill them up 2/3).

Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lime and Vanilla Buddercream Icing

1 cup margarine (check to make sure it’s vegan)

2 cups icing sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

juice of 1 lime

Beat the margarine with a handheld mixer until fluffy then mix in the sugar and beat for 3 minutes.

Add in the vanilla extract and lime juice then beat for another 5-7 minutes.

Transfer the icing to a piping bag and pipe on to the completely cooled cupcakes.

Strawberry and Marshmallow Cupcakes

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You might be starting to think that I survive solely by eating cupcakes and baked goods. As much as I love cupcakes I can’t slam them down in the same way that I can eat a packet of corn chips or other savoury delights (anyone who has witnessed me eating Dorito’s is never quite the same again). I get rid of most of my surplus by sending them to our various places of employment and earning some serious brownie points. Although sweet stuff might not be my favourite thing to eat, it is most definitely my favourite stuff to cook. I find baking therapeutic and putting food in peoples mouths extremely satisfying.

I was inspired to bake by these gorgeous Eton Mess Cupcakes but I also had a hankering to try a Marshmallow Frosting recipe that I’ve had saved on my Pinterest for a while. Apparently it tastes like a spreadable marshmallow fluff that is popular in the US but I have never had the original. To me it tastes like soft and smooth meringue, a perfect match for strawberries. I added the toasted almonds for crunch and because I just can’t stop sprankling them on everything I make. The almonds soften over time so eat on the day they’re made while they’re still crunchy. The icing recipe makes more than enough to generously decorate the cupcakes and then some, so I piped out the rest onto baking trays and baked them at 90 C for 2 hours to make little meringues.

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I found the strawberry flavour in the the cake pretty subtle but you can always jack it up with some strawberry essence. I wouldn’t recommend adding more strawberries unless you add more dry ingredients to compensate for the extra moisture.

Strawberry and Marshmallow Cupcakes

Cupcake recipe adapted from Sally’s Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes over at Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Icing recipe adapted from Marshmallow Frosting over at Pixels and Paperie.

Strawberry Cupcakes:

4-5 large strawberries

3/4 cup milk

1 2/3 cup plus 1 tbsp plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup caster sugar

115g butter, melted

1 large egg

1/4 cup yoghurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 175 C, line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners.

Hull the strawberries and place in a blender with the milk, process until the strawberries are completely blended into the milk.

In a bowl large enough to hold the finished mixture whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl mix together the sugar, melted butter, egg, yoghurt, vanilla extract and the strawberry milk.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well to combine, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Divide the batter between the 12 paper liner and bake for 20 minutes.

Allow to rest in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Marshmallow Icing:

3/4 cup flaked almonds

4 large egg whites

1 cup caster sugar

a pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Place the flaked almonds in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir until toasted and light brown, transfer onto a plate to cool.

Mix the egg whites, sugar and salt in a metal mixing bowl, place over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).

Whisk the egg mixture constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch.

Take the metal bowl off the heat and beat the egg whites with an electric mixer for 3-5 minutes until the mixture has become fluffy and light.

Pipe or spread onto the completely cooled cupcakes.

Sprinkle the toasted almonds onto the iced cupcakes, alternatively roll the sides of the icing in the toasted almonds.

Churro Cupcakes with Candied Bacon

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This is my first venture putting bacon into baked goods, I’m a little late to the party. To be honest the idea never really appealed to me until I saw this recipe. It was passed on by some friends (who are vegans?!) and I had just enough time to whip them up for an American themed food night at a friends house. Movie of choice, Independance Day, because what’s more American than the President blowing up aliens? The menu:

Bris-adelphia Cheese Steaks

– KFC Chips with Big Mac Sauce for dipping (homemade by The Boyfriend)

– BBQ Pork Ribs

– Mini Macs

– Sriracha Hot Wings

– Churro Cupcakes with Candied Bacon

The cake itself is delicious, it’s a little denser than your average sponge but it holds its own against the icing and the bacon. If I was in a hurry I would leave off the bacon and it would still be an amazing cupcake. The sugar on top of the sponge dissolved overnight so they lost their delightful crunch and the candy coating on the bacon slowly dissolved and trickled down the icing, so I would recommend serving them on the day you assemble them for maximum impact. The reactions to the bacon were mixed, one friend couldn’t get enough of it but another just wasn’t a fan.

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1 3/4 cups of sugar is quite a lot, as well as the extra sprinkling on top which is why it’s recommended to pipe a smaller amount of icing than you normally would. Cake flour is an American product that is used to make cakes lighter and fluffier, you can make your own by taking out 2 tbsp of plain flour for every cup and replacing it with 2 tbsp cornflour. Sift as many times as you can be bothered and you have cake flour! It’s a nice trick to use in any cake recipe to achieve a lighter texture.

Churro Cupcakes with Candied Bacon

Adapted from Churro Bacon Cupcakes over at Holy Taco Church.

Cupcakes:

1/2 cup plain flour

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

225g butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cups caster sugar

4 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 175 C, line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the plain flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a mixing bowl large enough to hold the finished batter, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

Add in the vanilla then the eggs one at a time, mixing in between.

Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two batches of milk, beginning and ending with the flour.

Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure the mixture is well combined then fill the paper liners 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes.

Allow the cupcakes to rest in the tin for 5 minutes before cooling on a rack.

Repeat until all the batter is used.

 

Crunchy Sugar Topping:

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

6 tbsp melted butter

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, mix well.

Brush the tops of the completely cool cupcakes with the melted butter then dip into the sugar mixture, rolling it around to make it really stick.

 

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing:

115g butter, room temperature

250g cream cheese, room temperature

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 cups icing sugar

Cream together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy then add the cinnamon and vanilla.

Add in the icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time until it reaches desired sweetness, mixing in between each addition.

Pipe a small amount of icing onto the cupcakes (they are already quite sweet).

 

Candied Bacon:

4-5 pieces of bacon

1/2 cup brown sugar

2-3 tbsp hot water

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Cook the bacon in a pan over medium heat until crispy on both sides.

Remove the bacon from the pan and drain off the excess fat.

Add the brown sugar and water into the pan, cook on low until the sugar dissolves then add the bacon back in.

Make sure the bacon is completely covered in sugar then transfer to the prepared baking tray to cool completely.

Cut into bite sized pieces then place a piece on top of the icing on each cupcake.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

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Buttercream does nothing for me, especially when it’s straight out of the fridge and rock hard, I would choose cream cheese icing any day of the week. I have no idea why I like it so much, I just know that I can eat it straight from the mixing bowl. Apparently this isn’t a socially acceptable way of enjoying icing so I’m forced to put it on top of cupcakes and I like it best with carrot cake. I love making big cakes for special occasions but cupcakes are so easy and portable, not to mention a sure fire way to make sure your servings are even (they’re also super cute and people go nuts for ’em).

I use a vanilla syrup in the icing instead of vanilla extract, that’s why you can see little vanilla seeds in the picture above. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying vanilla pods but you still get the rich vanilla flavour and the little black speckles that I’ve come to associate with legitimate vanilla flavour. The spices that go into the cake batter give it a real warmth and if you want a bit of crunch chop up some walnuts and throw them in with the carrot. Another reason that I love carrot cake is because most recipes for it use oil instead of butter, which means no waiting for butter to come to room temperature and no creaming butter with sugar.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Adapted from Lisa’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing over at Spicy Icecream.

Carrot Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

big pinch of salt

1 cup caster sugar

3/4 cup olive oil

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

3 medium sized carrots, grated

Preheat the oven to 180 C, line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper liners.

In a large bowl combine the self-raising flour, bicarbonate soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt, mixing well.

In a separate bowl combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla, beat with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.

Fold in the dry ingredients by hand, then mix in the grated carrot.

Fill up the paper liners halfway and bake for 20-25 mins.

Cool in the tin for 5 mins, then transfer to a wire rack.

Repeat until all the mixture is used.

 

Cream Cheese Icing

500g cream cheese, out of the fridge for 20 mins

50g butter, room temperature

2 cups icing sugar, sifted

3 tsp vanilla essence

Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric beater until smooth and fluffy.

Add the sugar and vanilla essence, beat until well combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl.

Generously pipe onto the cupcakes, there will probably be some icing left over.