Vanilla Cupcakes

A few weeks ago I baked cupcakes with Lila, age 8, and Remy, almost age 4, and when it came to decorating the frosting they wanted to use every sugar-laden item in my cabinet: like sprinkles, crystallized colored sugar, candy confetti and silver beads. It got me to thinking about when it was that we “grow up” and graduate from cupcakes with all sorts of stuff on it to plain cupcakes with simple buttercream icing.  Then I went to Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street in New York and, as usual, there was a line out the door (and partway down the block), so there were enough adults who would be ordering cupcakes for me to get a handle on the answer to this question. How many people had outgrown the everything on it variety? Not many as it turns out. It was a mixed-age crowd, anywhere from mid-twenties through 30s and 40s to middle-agers and, well, me. Plus my grand daughter Nina, age 7. With choices like mocha cupcakes with caramel meringue frosting and caramel drizzle or chocolate cake cupcakes with vanilla fluff icing and cake crumbs or German chocolate cupcakes with pecan-caramel frosting and chocolate or vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting and sprinkles in every imaginable color, who would pick plain? Even I, lover of plain, pure vanilla ice cream, chose a yellow cake cupcake with marshmallow frosting and flaked coconut. Fortunately, unlike most modern day bakeries who sell giant-sized cupcakes (and everything else) that would satisfy the Brobdingnagians of Gulliver’s Travels fame, Magnolia sells regular size cupcakes. The size I remember as normal from the old days. So I didn’t feel so guilty consuming the entire thing in about 5 bites. On the other hand, the prices at Magnolia (my cupcake was $3.50) are, if not quite Brobdingnagian, a bit on the upscale side, so, in addition to the calories, it’s not the kind of thing I want to do every day. Homemade cup cakes are a lot cheaper and you can decorate them with as many sprinkles (and all sorts of other stuff) as you wish. You can freeze them too.  Vanilla Cupcakes   1-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (measure after sifting) 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup unsalted butter 3/4 cup sugar 2 large eggs 1/2 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract   Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 12 muffin tins (or line them with cupcake papers). Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium, beat the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until thoroughly blended. Combine the milk and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture in 3 batches each, beating after each addition. Spoon equal amounts of the batter into the prepared tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cake rack to cool completely.   Makes 12 cupcakes     Buttercream Frosting    1/2 cup softened butter 2 cups confectioner’s sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract milk   In a large bowl or an electric mixer, beat the butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract together at medium speed until well blended. Gradually add milk, using enough to make the mixture spreading consistency.

A few weeks ago I baked cupcakes with Lila, age 8, and Remy, almost age 4, and when it came to decorating the frosting they wanted to use every sugar-laden item in my cabinet: like sprinkles, crystallized colored sugar, candy confetti and silver beads.

It got me to thinking about when it was that we “grow up” and graduate from cupcakes with all sorts of stuff on it to plain cupcakes with simple buttercream icing. 

Then I went to Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street in New York and, as usual, there was a line out the door (and partway down the block), so there were enough adults who would be ordering cupcakes for me to get a handle on the answer to this question.

How many people had outgrown the everything on it variety?

Not many as it turns out.

It was a mixed-age crowd, anywhere from mid-twenties through 30s and 40s to middle-agers and, well, me. Plus my grand daughter Nina, age 7.

With choices like mocha cupcakes with caramel meringue frosting and caramel drizzle or chocolate cake cupcakes with vanilla fluff icing and cake crumbs or German chocolate cupcakes with pecan-caramel frosting and chocolate or vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting and sprinkles in every imaginable color, who would pick plain?

Even I, lover of plain, pure vanilla ice cream, chose a yellow cake cupcake with marshmallow frosting and flaked coconut.

Fortunately, unlike most modern day bakeries who sell giant-sized cupcakes (and everything else) that would satisfy the Brobdingnagians of Gulliver’s Travels fame, Magnolia sells regular size cupcakes. The size I remember as normal from the old days.

So I didn’t feel so guilty consuming the entire thing in about 5 bites.

On the other hand, the prices at Magnolia (my cupcake was $3.50) are, if not quite Brobdingnagian, a bit on the upscale side, so, in addition to the calories, it’s not the kind of thing I want to do every day.

Homemade cup cakes are a lot cheaper and you can decorate them with as many sprinkles (and all sorts of other stuff) as you wish.

You can freeze them too. 

Vanilla Cupcakes

 

1-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (measure after sifting)

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 12 muffin tins (or line them with cupcake papers). Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium, beat the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until thoroughly blended. Combine the milk and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture in 3 batches each, beating after each addition. Spoon equal amounts of the batter into the prepared tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cake rack to cool completely.

 

Makes 12 cupcakes

 

 

Buttercream Frosting 

 

1/2 cup softened butter

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

milk

 

In a large bowl or an electric mixer, beat the butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract together at medium speed until well blended. Gradually add milk, using enough to make the mixture spreading consistency.