Sunday, April 15, 2012

Old-Fashioned Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

I want to share something with you that I stole from my brother's house today that made me incredibly happy.

For me, nothing beats the lilac's smell and it's most definitely my favorite flower. I just wanted to share with you that they are officially out and about. Sniff them while you can people, they aren't here long. If someone wanted to bottle one of the most familiar smells of my childhood it would be the smell of the lilac. My grandparents, who lived across the woods from us, had huge lilac bushes that spread out across the areas on both sides of their driveway. If I remember correctly, my grandfather hated the smell of those flowers, but I can't/couldn't get enough of them.

Getting back on track, I also wanted to share with you my new favorite birthday cupcake! I've made these cupcakes a few times now, and they have turned out every single time. I recently got The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook and it is awesome. And cute. There are very few cookbooks where I've wanted to bake every single thing in them. This is definitely one of those books for me. The cool thing about these cupcakes is that it's a one bowl kind of deal. Easy clean-up, man. I had never made a cupcake that you mixed the butter in with all the dry ingredients right off the bat. Normally the flour and such is added towards the end. For me, this way makes the baking process that much easier. I love it. I'm not exactly sure how doing it this way benefits the cupcake, but it's working.

After making the frosting that pairs with these cupcakes, I found my new favorite. Holy smokes it's good. This buttercream recipe also makes a ton of frosting so feel free to apply generously on top of each tiny cake. These cupcakes are soft and moist and have a really great flavor. They have a fine crumb and are a little bit messy, but so worth the few crumbs on your shirt when you've finished. I hope you get a chance to make these!

Old-Fashioned Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners.

In a large measuring cup or a small bowl, mix together the milk and vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine both flours, I sifted them, and then the sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until thoroughly combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the cubed butter a few pieces at a time, mixing for about 2 minutes, until the mixture resembles coarse sand. There might be a few larger chunks of butter left, but that's OK. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Turn the speed to low, seriously low, and gradually add the milk and vanilla, then mix for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and  incorporate any ingredients that may have gathered at the bottom and sides of the bowl, making sure the batter is completely mixed.

With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake cups, filling each baking cup about two-thirds full. I prefer to use the ice cream scoop, just depends on personal preference.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. My oven leans more towards the 25-30 minute mark. So keep your eye on them after 20 minutes or so. Let cool for at least 20 minutes.

Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 to 7 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 4 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, the milk, and vanilla and mix on low speed until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add up to 3 cups more sugar, mixing on low speed, until the frosting reaches the desired light and fluffy consistency, 3 to 5 minutes.

Using a spatula or a butter knife, spread the tops of the cupcakes with swirls of frosting. Top with sprinkles, if desired. The cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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