As luck would have it, as I was pondering the absence of Vanilla within my posts, Rachel (Baked by Rachel) tweeted a link to her favorite recipe for “Perfect White Cupcakes”. Score! I don’t even have to do research on which recipe to use!
I can see why this recipe is a favorite. It’s moist and tender, unlike a lot of vanilla cupcakes. And it’s easy. No need to whip egg whites or dirty a bunch of bowls. I only used my stand mixer bowl and a liquid measuring cup. The directions are a bit unconventional if you’re used to doing a lot of baking, but don’t let it scare you. Instead of creaming the butter and sugar like most recipes, you sift the sugar in with the dry ingredients and work the butter in almost like making a pastry, where it resembles coarse crumbs before adding the wet ingredients. I had to read the directions a couple times to make sure I was doing it right, but it worked. I might try it the more traditional way next time to see if it makes any difference (or really just to quell my obsessive compulsive tendencies that were screaming out that I was doing it all wrong.)
This recipe is definitely a keeper. I’ve already eaten more than I care to mention, and honestly, I didn’t even bother to frost most of them because I like the way they taste plain. They taste good with the Vanilla Bean Buttercream, but I think they could really shine with another flavor to balance it. I’ll definitely be playing around with this one in the future. I’m already thinking about an almond version to try out. And maybe some Strawberry Buttercream.
Adapted from Baked by Rachel
Makes 12 cupcakes
½ cup milk
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tin with liners; set aside.
2. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together milk, egg whites, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds to combine; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. (Or pulse a few times with mixer to combine.) Add butter, mixing on low until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (It’ll look a bit like the start of pastry dough.)
4. Add half of milk mixture to flour mixture and beat until dough is moist and thick (a bit like cookie dough). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add remaining milk mixture and beat until combined. (Mixture should look more like batter now.)
5. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling with 2 tablespoons of batter each. Bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.