I made some cupcakes this week and turned to my most trusted references for help. Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcake recipe, found here, is interesting in that you cut the butter into the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients. Most cake recipes require 5 minutes of creaming butter and sugar, but Billy’s technique is reminiscent of scones, soda bread and biscuit. I like it because you do not need to leave the butter out to soften as the butter warms when cubed. I also like that some cupcakes get actual chunks of butter. I modified the original recipe by decreasing the sugar and increasing the vanilla. Overall, they had a cake-like texture similar to teacakes, very different from the chocolate cupcakes below.
Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes about 30 cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.
I also made some matcha cupcakes by substituting 2 tablespoons matcha powder for the vanilla extract in Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes. These were everyone’s favorite by far. I would, however, like to experiment with a softer green tea cupcake with a more tender crumb, similar to the moister chocolate recipe below.
These cupcakes were decadent with an intense chocolate flavor, but I found them too salty. I modified the original recipe by decreasing the sugar and the salt.
Double Chocolate Cupcakes
makes 36 cupcakes/adapted from Epicurious
3 oz. (1/2 cup) fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 ½ cups hot brewed coffee
2 cups sugar
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
3 large eggs
¾ cup canola oil
1 ½ cups well-shaken buttermilk
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line cupcake wells with fluted paper liners or butter cake pans and line with parchment paper.
Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In another large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until thickened slightly and lemon-colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed, bracing yourself against puffs of cocoa-and-flour dust, until just combined well.
Divide batter between pans. Bake in middle of oven 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes, or 50 to 70 minutes for larger cakes, until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool cakes completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and remove cupcakes, or invert larger cakes onto racks. If making larger cakes, carefully remove wax paper. Cakes may be made one day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.