It’s been awhile since a birthday has come around (okay, 21 days), but it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to make cake.
Luckily, baking with a supercool teen named Lydia gave me a chance to try these cupcakes!
Lydia is an expert singer, budding photographer (she took some of these photos) and happens to be the daughter of a professor for my personal essay writing class in college. More importantly, she wanted to learn how to bake cupcakes. I won’t lie–I was flatteredexcitednervousgratefulexcited when my professor invited me over to bake with Lydia.
Personal essay writing: how else can I describe that class but unexpected? We switched professors partway through the semester and learned about skeletons in more closets than I thought possible. This professor was the one who took over the second half of the class, and I was amazed at how smoothly she cruised into the classroom, took the reins, and guided us through the rest of the semester, tearful discussions and all.
Needless to say, I felt extremely lucky to be able to go over to her house and get to know her family and her beyond the classroom.
Let’s be real: I didn’t do much teaching in the kitchen. Lydia is what we might call a lightning fast study. It was more like a partner baking project. We creamed butter and poured sprinkles and sifted powdered sugar while talking about her hobbies and school play, teachers and tumblrs. AND! Bonus: while the cupcakes were baking, she showed me the thrift store across the street (one of the best in the city) and I picked up those cute little saucer things underneath the cupcakes.
I was, I think you might say justifiably so, scared that these cupcakes would not turn out. What kind of teacher would I have looked like??
Luckily, I think it’d be hard to mess these up. They are plush, crumby and delightfully tender. These cupcakes make me wonder why I went to the trouble of making that crazy Momofuku funfetti cake business when I could have just made these.
Well, that’s a lie. That cake was and still is amazing and the elaborate steps were part of the fun. But I thought these were a hit and I think Lydia would agree
This is my new go-to Funfetti-from-scratch recipe except that for some reason, these cupcakes made a solid batch of 11. Not 10, not 12, but 11 on the dot. It’s very possible that we could have messed things up, but it didn’t seem like there was any possible way this recipe could stretch to make 12 cupcakes. Maybe 12 half cupcakes. Anyway, other than that, the recipe was flawless. I will remedy this flaw in the future.
The frosting: OMG. This frosting makes a TUB of frosting. If you are going to frost these cupcakes using some fancy frosting applicator, I might make the whole recipe. If you are going to hand-frost these with a knife, the way we did, I would recommend making a half-batch and even then, you might have a large puddle of leftover frosting. Whatever will you do with it?
Found on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures and originally from Baking Bites
Yield: 11 cupcakes
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
Whisk the milk, egg whites, vanilla and almond extracts together in a measuring cup.
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed briefly to combine. Cut the butter into 6 pieces and add them to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until the mixture is coarse and sandy. Add milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl and continue beating for 20-30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the sprinkles.
Fill each well of the prepared pan about 1/2 – 2/3 full, depending on how big you want your cupcakes. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and allow them to cool completely before frosting (we refrigerated them).
Quick Vanilla Buttercream
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Stir the heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt together in a small bowl. With an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the mixer on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time until it is completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then beat in the heavy cream mixture. Increase the mixer to medium speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
The frosting can be made a few days ahead and refrigerated. When you are ready to use it, let it come to room temperature and then beat briefly.
Makes 3 cups of frosting.