Now, the Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes... B's mom called Monday night and we started to chat about everything and nothing as we usually do, and she started to beat around the bush, as she usually does, about needing me to bake something for her garden club. She is a talented baker but she does not get in the kitchen much nowadays, and she knows I am happy to give her and "her ladies" a hand whenever I can. I usually try to fit the cake, treats, and sweets to the theme of their meeting, but when she pronounced the words "Easter" I admit I drew a blank. I am still warming up to Peeps and Chicks (nothing wrong there just different countries different candies) and really beside liking the colors I don't think I wanted to make a bunny cake or something like that (nothing wrong there either). I hung up and went outside to consult with my favorite baking associates, the Twins. We sat down on the sidewalk and after a good ten minutes of dreaming out loud about their favorite desserts, I asked them their favorite questions "So, what do you think I should bake?" They both said vanilla cupcakes with yellow frosting and tons of sprinkles.
They got very distracted by the two little girls at the end of the street so I went on baking and told them to come later help me with the sprinkles. I think it was the loudest "Yeah!" I had ever heard!! I don't know if they were more excited about the little girls or the sprinkles. In my perfect little world I don't think I want to know!!
While I was getting all the ingredients ready, I remembered that one of my favorite bloggers, Arfi from HomeMades was hosting a Cupcake Spectacular this month. Very timely! For the cupcakes I went with the tried and true Vanilla ones from Magnolia Bakery and Rose Levy Berembaum mousseline buttercream. I could eat both together or separately by the bucket... I went for minis for a couple of reasons: I love treats that fit in the palm of my hand and the ladies at the garden club have an easier time pretending they only ate
Vanilla Vanilla Mini Cupcakes:
Makes 4 dozens minis
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two 24-cup muffin tins with mini cupcake papers.
Combine the flours together and sift them. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Do not overmix the batter. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full (I use a mini ice cream scoop to do that) Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tip of a knife or skewer inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the buttercream and pipe it on the cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
4 sticks butter at room temperature
5 egg whites
1 cup sugar divided
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. vanilla extract
food coloring if desired
In the bowl of stand mixer, whip 5 egg whites until they have soft peaks.
In the meantime, combine 1/4 cup water with 3/4 cup sugar to a boil in a heavy saucepan and bring the syrup to 250F. Slowly add the sugar syrup to the egg whites. If you use hand beaters, this is even easier and there is less hot syrup splatter on the side of your bowl and in the whisk attachment of the stand mixer. Continue to whip until the meringue is completely cooled.
Slowly add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. The mass might curddle but no panic, continue to whip until it all comes together. Add the vanilla extract and the food coloring if using.