I’ve been inspired by Valentine’s Day to make cupcakes of course! If it looks a little wonky, it’s because I baked them in a heart shaped silicon cupcake mold, but because I placed the molds in a regular cupcake tin, it warped the heart shape. Next time I’ll try placing them on a cookie sheet instead. That being said, they’re still yummy! A delicious cake recipe should be the foundation of any cupcake creation. After I settled on a chocolate recipe I wanted to find a great vanilla one. In my research I discovered that what makes a cake super moist, is using oil instead of butter. An internet search brought me to this unassuming recipe from kaboose.com. For the classic vanilla buttercream I turned to Betty Crocker but modified the directions. When making the icing, be sure to beat the butter very well and add the icing sugar a a little at a time and mix well after each addition, alternating with the milk. This will make for a smoother icing.
Simple Vanilla Cake
2 cups (500 mL) sugar
2-1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) milk
3/4 cup (175 mL) vegetable oil
2-1/4 teaspoons (11 mL) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line two 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pans or one 9×13-inch (23 x 33 cm) rectangular baking pan with parchment paper. Grease the paper and the sides of the pan well.
In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs together until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Add flour, milk, oil, baking powder, and vanilla and beat for another minute, just until the batter is smooth and creamy. Don’t overbeat. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan(s).
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick poked into the center of the layer comes out clean. For cupcakes, bake 18-20 minutes. (A single rectangular pan will take longer to bake than two round ones.) Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a thin knife, then turn out onto a rack and peel off the paper. Let cool completely before covering with frosting, if desired.
Servings: Two 9-inch (23-cm) round layers, or one 9- x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) rectangular cake, or 24 cupcakes.
Vanilla Buttercream Icing
6 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 teaspoons vanilla
2-3 tablespoons milk
Beat butter with electric mixer until creamy. Add about 1/4 cup of the the icing sugar at a time and mix well after each addition, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. If the icing is too thick, add a couple of drops of milk; if it’s too thin add a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar and mix until you get the desired consistency.
*Update: July 2014. I just discovered the cupcake recipe is exactly the same as “The Cake Boss’ Vanilla Cake” that was posted on Rachael Ray’s website.