11 Jun 2019 | Cherry Cai
Everyone loves a cupcake; they're the perfect sized treat! Not only are they scrumptious when baked correctly, they're also oh-so-aesthetic and sure to impress whoever you might show your creation to. We think that mastering the cupcake is the ideal winter weekend project for those who are inclined towards baking. To get you started on your journey we've provided a basic Vanilla Cupcake recipe and some tips from our favourite #Baking #Queen Nick Makrides (@thescranline), who specialises in insane baking creations that are as delicious as they are mesmerising. His book Sugar Rebels shares his tips and tricks on how to bake amazing desserts, from base to decoration.
‘Hey Nick, why don’t you cream the butter and sugar together?’
I’m glad you asked. This is literally the most common question I get about this recipe, so let me answer it now … But not before I tell you that these vanilla cupcakes are super moist, slightly denser than regular cupcakes, and they taste amazing. And! The recipe is super versatile; you can pretty much flavour it with anything and colour it with any colour that you want (as you’re about to discover in this book …).
Now, down to business. Most vanilla cupcake recipes have you cream the butter and sugar together, which is called the ‘creaming method’. Instead, I use the reverse-creaming method, which is when the butter goes in with the dry ingredients and is mixed until it resembles fine crumbs. There are a couple of reasons for this: firstly, I used to work in a bakery and, in a bakery, you’ll find any way you can to save time. The reverse creaming method is much quicker than the creaming method. Secondly, I use this method because it yields a much moister cake. The creaming method, although the batter comes out a little fluffier, usually makes a drier mixture. Lastly, I use this method because there is less chance of overmixing the batter than with the creaming method.
MAKES 20 CUPCAKES
20 white cupcake cases
430g (15 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
265 g (9½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
125 g (4½ oz/½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
375 ml (12½ fl oz/1½ cups) full-cream (whole) milk
125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt (or sour cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2 BATCHES AMERICAN BUTTERCREAM FROSTING (this recipes makes 1 batch)
500 g (1 lb 2 oz/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
500 g (1 lb 2 oz/4 cups) icing (confectioners’) sugar
2–4 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons full-cream (whole) milk (at room temperature); optional, but recommended
Preheat a fan-forced oven to 140°C (275°F) or a conventional oven to 160°C (320°F). Line two cupcake tins with the cupcake cases.
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix with a hand mixer until well combined.
Next, add the softened butter and mix on low speed until the mixture reaches a crumbly, sand-like texture.
Add the eggs, milk, oil, yoghurt and vanilla, and mix on low speed until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix for a final 20 seconds. It’s at this point that you can add any flavourings or food-gel colourings to the batter.
Fill each case three-quarters of the way. Using an ice-cream scoop to transfer the batter to the cupcake cases makes this a quick and easy process and ensures each case contains exactly the same amount of batter so that the cupcakes bake evenly. Bake for 40–50minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Add your softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. You can also use a hand mixer for this recipe, but if you do use a hand mixer, make sure your bowl is large. Mix the butter on low speed to begin with, then switch to the highest speed and mix for 5 minutes until the butter is fluy and turns pale in colour.
Stop your mixer and scrape down the side of the bowl using a spatula. Add the icing sugar and vanilla extract and mix again on low speed. LOW SPEED, PEOPLE! The last thing you need is to end up in a sugar dust storm!
Once all the sugar has been incorporated, it’s safe to turn your mixer up to high speed. Continue beating on high speed for about 5–6 minutes, or until the butter turns pale in colour and becomes fluffy again. If you want to soften your buttercream and make it a little smoother, add the milk and continue mixing for another couple of minutes on medium speed. At this stage, you can also add any food flavourings or food-gel colourings.
Fit the end of a piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip, fill your bag with frosting and frost your cupcakes in a signature swirl.
For this technique, you’ll need a Wilton 1M piping tip. Starting in the centre of the cupcake, pipe a swirl of frosting about 1 cm (½ in) from the edge of the cupcake. Continue swirling upwards and inwards until you get to the top. Pipe slowly to allow the frosting to come out looking frilly. When you reach the top, stop squeezing, then lift up the piping bag to get that perfect little pointy tip in the middle.
Photographer: ©Nick Makrides
This is an edited extract from Sugar Rebels by Nick Makrides and is available at your local bookstore and online.