I began my quest for the perfect Cupcakes, starting with the Classic Victoria Sponge recipe, comprising equal quantities of Butter, Sugar and Flour (6oz Unsalted Butter, 6oz Caster Sugar, 6oz SR Flour, 3 Eggs + Vanilla Extract). I've always had success with this recipe for larger layered sandwich cakes, such as the Victoria Sponge, and whilst the resulting Cupcakes from this mixture certainly did taste delicious, i felt they would benefit hugely from a slight tweaking of the recipe.
The beauty of a good cupcake sponge, for me, is the balance between it's angelic whispery lightness, and a perfect heavenly richness: gently creamy and slightly sweet, without being so dense as to be overpowered by its sinful partnering with the delectibly rich Buttercream Frosting.
I found, to my surprise, that the Cupcakes i prepared with the basic victoria sponge recipe, once enrobed in their delicious buttercream, seemed to taste too rich, and almost slightly 'greasy', which is not a word i would normally ever use for a beautifully rich vanilla sponge, but with the addition of the frosting i felt that the buttery taste was actually emphasised a little too much.
So, after experimenting with different proportions of the sponge ingredients, trying various fat equivalents (marge, salted butter etc), sugar equivalents, different quantities of egg, oven temps, cooking times, etc etc... here is my divinely delicious........
BEST VANILLA CUPCAKE RECIPE... ever!?!:
6 oz Self Raising Flour (sifted for extra lightness),
1 very heaped teaspoon Baking Powder,
4 oz Unsalted Butter (softened),
4 oz Caster Sugar,
2 oz Light Brown Soft Sugar (or just 6oz of caster ~ i find this small amount of light brown sugar enhances the taste/colour/texture), (NOTE: You can use less sugar, eg 5oz if desired)
Few grains of salt,
4 medium Eggs (room temperature),
Vanilla Pod and/or pure Vanilla Extract.
Preheat oven to 150C (for my hot fan oven) and line a large cupcake tray with cupcake cases.
* Split the vanilla pod in half, if using, and scrape out the seeds with the edge of a knife.
* Place the softened butter into a large bowl, along with the vanilla seeds, and beat with an electric handwhisk for a few seconds.
* Now add the caster and soft brown sugars to the butter and whisk until creamed, for a minute or so.
* Add your vanilla extract (anywhere from 1tsp to 1 dessertspoon... personally i'm very generous with the vanilla, adding both extract and seeds on some occassions, as i feel the cupcakes really benefit from a definite vanilla-y flavour).
* Seperate the eggs and add the yolks, a little at a time, to the butter and sugar. Keep whisking until all the egg yolks are incorporated and the mixture is paler and creamier than when you 1st added the yolks.
(NB. If your eggs and butter are at room temperature your wet mixture shouldnt split at all; if it does however, dont worry too much ~ when you add the dry ingredients the mixture should become smooth again and the cakes will be fine).
* Sift the flour, baking powder and few grains of salt into thebutter, sugar and eggs mixture and gently fold in with a metal spoon.
* Now, in a very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric handwhisk until they form stiff peaks.
* With a metal knife fold 1 spoonful of the egg whites into the cake mixture, then carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites.
* Spoon the mixture evenly and carefully into the cupcake cases, (tap the tray once firmly before placing in the oven, to free the mixture of any very large air bubbles which would cause the cakes to sink after baking).
* Bake for approx 30-45 mins. (I like to bake my cupcakes slower and lower in temp than a lot of people, because i love the delicately soft, light, slightly moist texture it creates by setting the mixture slowly. If you prefer a cupcake with a slightly dryer, crispier golden crust, try raising the oven temp a little and reducing the baking time).
Following very soon.... My BEST VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING Recipe.... ever!!.