Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

Last week, we celebrated my nephew Liam’s first birthday.  His parents turned their house into a big aquarium and displayed fishy decorations everywhere! They asked me to bake some pretty colorful fishy cupcakes they found on Pinterest to go with the O-FISH-AL birthday theme and without any hesitation, I agreed.  I was excited to contribute to the birthday party, but I was even more excited to have a reason to use my stand mixer, Daenerys. I may have mentioned this before, but the stand mixer is an incredible kitchen tool and I think everyone should own one.

I never baked straight vanilla cupcakes before so I  was a little nervous.  The week before the party, I researched a few vanilla cupcake recipes online and baked a few test batches to determine the best vanilla cupcakes to bake for the party. It’s super important for cupcakes to stay moist throughout the day and not dry out.  From my testing, the recipe that used butter dried out pretty quickly, but the ones with oil remained moist throughout the day.  After recipe testing, the recipe that called for canola oil and cake flour ended up tasting the best so that’s what I used for the birthday party.  On the day of the party, the vanilla cupcakes turned out how I envisioned and expected.  Wifey even helped decorate and turned the cupcakes into colorful fishies to go with the birthday theme. I saw plenty of smiles that day and the kids partied hard at the Liam’s birthday party.  Everyone had a fantastic time.

Ingredients:
Vanilla Cupcakes (Makes 24):
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Buttercream Frosting:
3 sticks of unsalted butter
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons whole milk
food coloring, optional

Steps:
Prepare dry ingredients – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt through a sifter and whisk well.

Make cupcake batter – In a stand mixer bowl or large bowl, beat eggs on medium for about 15 seconds.  Add sugar and beat until combined for another 30 seconds.  Add oil and vanilla extract. Turn mixer down to low seed. Add cake flour alternating with buttermilk and finishing with cake flour. Mix batter until smooth, but do not over beat.

Bake cupcakes – Line cupcake pan with cupcake paper.  Fill each cupcake paper to about 1/2 way full or 1.4 ounces of batter. Bake cupcakes for 13-15 minutes.  Take cupcakes out of the oven and rest for 10 minutes in the pan.  Remove cupcakes from the pan and cool on wire rack until ready to frost.


Make Buttercream Frosting – Add butter to stand mixer and mix for about 1 minute.  Add confectioner’s sugar.  Beat on low and gradually increase speed to medium high for about 2-3 minutes.  Add vanilla and half the milk. Beat for another minute. If frosting looks too thick, add remaining milk and continue beating until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Frost cupcakes – Use a small rubber spatula and spread a single layer of frosting evenly on top of the cupcake. Decorate cupcakes as necessary.

Tips:

  • I learned in this baking experience that you should avoid using reduced fat products like reduced fat milk or buttermilk.  It impacts the overall quality.
  • AP flour should work for this recipe, but Cake flour makes the cupcakes less dense and gives it a more cakey consistency.
  • If frosting is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of whole milk at a time until the consistency is perfect.
  • To ensure the cupcake is cooked, stick a toothpick in the center of the cupcake and make sure batter does not stick to the toothpick.

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