Friday, 5 September 2014

Very Vanilla Cupcakes

We all know that there is a wealth of cupcake recipes out there, each one more outrageous and fancier than the last. I'll even hold both hands up and state that I'm guilty of collecting a large number of those said recipes on Pinterest because they sound so delicious and the photography always makes me very jealous and has me dying to get into the kitchen. Now, let me ask you a question. Is there really anything better than a good old fashioned, plain and simple chocolate or vanilla cupcake?

Correct. My current favourite things to make are muffins and (strangely) fruit cakes but I also keep having cravings to make simpler recipes. I'd Much Rather Bake Than.... is full of simple and easy recipes anyway because I'm too impatient to wait the time to doctor a recipe to make it showy when all I want to do is eat the cake. Frills are all divine fun but the classics are classic for a reason and so I present to you my favourite recipe for vanilla cupcakes.

The secret is to use homemade vanilla extract. The sponge recipe really benefits from the quality that is homemade. Shop bought extracts, even a quality one, simply aren't the same. The reason you need homemade is because then you get all the different flavour compounds that contribute towards that lovely vanilla taste. Synthetic vanilla only contains vanillin, the primary chemical responsible for what you taste. However, vanilla pods contains aout 200 chemical compounds and it is tasting the combination of these that makes the flavour of vanilla such a good one to so many people. By using homemade vanilla extract you get a high concentration of all of these compounds which go straight into your baking.

An extract is much easier to blend throughout the whole sponge and buttercream than the seeds of the pod. It's also much cheaper (hoorah!) and involves much less mess (HOORAH!). I've stuck with a traditional creamed Victoria sponge recipe because I think the buttery base really highlights the vanilla star. Sometimes it is good to experiment and change quantities to creat something new but this isn't one of those times. A good old Victoria sponge, given the love and care to incorporate as much air as possible at the creaming stage produces the lighest, most feathery base to caress a thorough infusion of vanilla. Topped with a cloud of buttercream whipped to a mousse-like texture, these vanilla cupcakes can bask resplendent in the glow of a well satisfied baker and eater.

After such a glorious foundation, these Very Vanilla Cupcakes deserve a crown attop their buttercream. Sprinkles are all very well and good but I like to add sweets or a piece of chocolate to mine - and then save that bit for last (anybody else do that?) Another craving of mine recently has been fudge so when I came across the all new Totally Fudged! range I jumped at the chance to review some. It was the perfect topper to my favourite vanilla cupcakes. The cherry on top. Except it's fudge. Stay tuned!

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Very Vanilla Cupcakes
A supersoft buttery sponge holds maximum vanilla flavour and is topped with the lightest of vanilla buttercreams. The key is to use good quality vanilla extract and beat lots of air in at the creaming stage. Double up the buttercream if you like lots of icing.
For the cupcakes:
  • 115g softened butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 tsp homemade vanilla extract (or top quality bought)
  • Splash of milk
  • 115g plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
For the buttercream:
  • 40g softened butter
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 ml milk
  • Chopped fudge, to finish
1. Set the oven to 190 C/170 C and line a mufin tin with paper cases.2. Beat the butter until pale and creamy then add the sugar and cream until very light and fluffy. In a jug whisk the eggs with the vanilla and milk then mix into the butter and sugar a small spoonful at a time, mixing well with each addition. If the mixture threatens to curdle, mix in a spoonful of the measured flour.3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold into the mixture then divide between the cases. 4. Bake in a preheated oven for 18-20 mins until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. After five mins, remove from the tray and cool completely on a wire rack.5. For the buttercream, beat the butter until pale and creamy then sift and beat in the icing sugar a bit at a time. Add the milk and mix in then mix on high speed until very light and fluffy.6. Spread or pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and top with a sprinkle of fudge.
Stuart from Cakeyboi has set the anniversary theme of Treat Petite to 'anything goes' so I'm sharing the cupcakes with the challenge - a traditional individually portioned treat. Kat from The Baking Explorer is his co-host on alternate months.


  1. Vanilla cupcakes are always yum..... and always a great base for any icing! What a lovely light looking sponge!

  2. You can NEVER go wrong with a vanilla cupcake! I think I would definitely double up on the buttercream too!

    1. I don't blame you for wanting extra buttercream! I would love more too - those piped swirls look ever so pretty but I just can't bring myself to put that much on!

  3. Those look very light and moreish. Vanilla will always be a favourite flavour of mine, it's such a classic. Thanks for linking up to Sweet and Savoury Sunday, stop by and link up again. Have a great day!!

    1. Sometimes the classics really are the best aren't they? =)

  4. Thanks for taking the time to enter - a petite treat indeed!


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