I bake a lot, I find it cathartic, and there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing my friends and family bite into one of my experiments, their eyes roll back, and mumble “yummmm” through a half swallowed mouthful, spreading crumbs down their top.
Occasionally I will find a great recipe, something that I will obsessively bake, tweak, and perfect until it is good enough to “make the book” where it lovingly gets printed, laminated and joins its brethren in the land of recipe royalty, perfectly poised on the prime shelf of the bookcase. This cupcake recipe has made those hallowed pages, it is versatile, and easy to make, it’s forgiving if you get distracted while it is in the oven, I have not made a batch that hasn’t been absolutely ravaged by the people I serve it to.
I must make a shoutout to the Cupcake Project, I used the original recipe for her Ultimate vanilla cupcake before making a few minor adjustments.
3/4 cup castor sugar
2 fresh vanilla beans
1 3/4 cups good quality plain cake flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
60grams very soft, unsalted butter
2 extra large eggs
1/3 cup full fat sour cream
60ml light olive oil (definitely don’t use extra virgin, you will taste it in the cake.. Bler)
1 1/2 tbs vanilla extract (don’t use imitation, it’s not worth it)
160ml lukewarm milk
Preheat oven to 170C
Scrape seeds from vanilla pods and in a small bowl add to sugar, mash clumps of seeds with a fork and ensure they are spread well through the sugar.
Sift together flour, baking powder, bi-carb, and salt into a mixing bowl, or bowl of your stand mixer
Add butter to flour in small chunks, mix on medium until we’ll combined (it should look like fine breadcrumb) if you prefer, you can rub the butter into the flour by hand.
Add sugar/vanilla beans and mix until combined
In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, sour cream, eggs and vanilla essence, then add this to flour and beat until smooth.
Finally while mixing add milk slowly, the batter should be like pancake batter, light, sweet and speckled with vanilla.
Fill cupcake liners to just over halfway, I use a milk steaming jug from my coffee machine for this as the batter is quite fluid, I have baked these in large, tiny and medium cases, and the recipe works fine in all sizes, you just need to keep an eye on baking time.
Baking time varies, depending on case size, for medium to large leave for 12 minutes then check every 2 until done. Cakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean, tops should not be too dark but a light golden colour.
When cakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and place on a wire rack to cool, these do not work with freestanding cupcake liners as the delicate cake sweats and turns doughy during cooling in the thick cardboard.
These cakes are perfect to fill (I don’t bother coring them, I just pipe filling inside with a fine nozzled piping bag). They also lend themselves to sweet American buttercream icing, or an Italian meringue.