Vanilla Cupcake Remix

The Cakes

I was on a baking binge this week. While randomly searching the internet, I found two new vanilla cupcake recipes that I couldn’t wait to try.

Recipe #1, from Recipe Girl, was absolutely intriguing. It used two unconventional ingredients – boxed cake mix and sour cream. I had to try this recipe out if for no other reason than the fact that it is was so unique.

20130716_174839

Recipe #2, from Cookies & Cups, caught my eye because of its backstory (and because it was m first yellow cake recipe). This baker’s husband has taste-tested all sorts of cupcake recipes that his wife has made, but none of them ever impressed him more than standard box mix. He always had a complaint about the homemade recipes (too dry, too dense, not enough flavor, etc.). However, this particular vanilla cupcake recipe blew him away. After reading that description, I knew that I had to give this recipe a try, too.

The Icing

I have found my perfect buttercream icing. However, for these new cupcake recipes, I didn’t want to make the same old buttercream. So, I found several fun icing recipes online and made small batches of each to taste test.

Icing # 1 – Brown Eyed Baker’s Peanut Butter Frosting

Icing # 2 – Martha Stewart’s Honey Cinnamon Frosting

Icing # 3 – Sally’s Baking Addiction’s  Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting

Icing # 4 – Eat, Run, Read’s Cherry Frosting

Baking Marathon 

Cupcake Recipe # 1 made a batter that was very runny (see below). However, it produced a moist cupcake that rose well. Unfortunately, the texture was too spongy and sticky for my liking and, like my previous vanilla cupcake recipe, the flavor was not prominent enough. Once iced, I couldn’t taste the cupcake flavor at all.

20130716_174812

20130716_181107

Cupcake Recipe # 2 turned out to be exactly what I’ve been searching for! I got a super fluffy, moist, medium-crumb cupcake with a wonderful flavor. In the future, I would still add a bit of extra vanilla extract to enhance the flavor even more, but overall I was very impressed with this recipe.

20130717_215145

ICING!

The honey, cinnamon icing was my favorite flavor, without question. However, the honey makes this icing very sweet. If you don’t have a well developed sweet tooth, you might want to try a different flavor. — The peanut butter icing was rich, smooth, and flavorful, as you would expect. However, as you might also expect, the peanut flavor tends to overpower the cupcake flavor, so this should be kept in mind when crafting your cakes. — I love mint chocolate chip anything, so that icing was bound to be a winner. It totally delivered. — Cherry is also one of my favorite flavors. I supplemented the online recipe with a bit of cherry extract to kick up the cherry flavor, but it still fell flat. I liked the color of this icing, but found the taste to be mostly disappointing.

20130716_230323

20130717_220112

Battle 2: Vanilla Cupcakes

Recipe

Yes folks, the time has come for my next cupcake battle. This time I will be facing off with a vanilla cupcake recipe from Laura’s Sweet Spot (adapted from Taste of Home). I scoured the internet (specifically baking blogs) for the recipe with the most potential. Based on taste tests, this recipe was the clear winner.

These cupcakes are white cake instead of yellow cake. In case you don’t know, the difference between the two type of cake is that white cake uses egg whites, while yellow cake incorporates the egg yolk. Of course, this creates a color difference between the two varieties, too (“white” vs. yellow).

Goal

My goal with this recipe is to find a versatile white or yellow cupcake base that I can add pretty much any flavor extract to in order to create a wide variety of cupcake types.

When I first told Tristan about this recipe, he was weary because it called for buttermilk. He doubted how the tartness of the milk (due to the acid in it) would work out in a cupcake. However, I think he will be pleasantly surprised.

Directions

This recipe was very simple. I creamed the butter and sugar first. Then, I added the egg whites one at a time. Next, I mixed in the vanilla.

P1200836

Then, I added in the dry ingredients and buttermilk in alternating batches (with the dry ingredients being added first and last). Finally, I filled the cupcake liners and baked! One thing I have learned since I started baking is that in my next kitchen I need an oven with an interior light. I never again want to have to check my baking goods with a flashlight like this:

P1200843

P1200845

Results

I am going to have to call this battle a TIE. The cakes were large, super moist, and had a good crumb. The cupcake was fluffy, but strong enough that it would easily hold icing. However, the vanilla flavor just did not impress me. Before fully committing to this recipe, I would like to give it another try with a bit more vanilla extract. In order for me to fully embrace this recipe, I have to be sure that it will successfully produce a cupcake with an appropriate flavor punch. This first time, the cakes just didn’t have that perfect one-two combo of awesome texture + delicious flavor.

P1200852