So, my oldest turned 10 recently. I was surprisingly and uncharacteristically mushy about the whole thing. He is a joy, and I cannot believe that I have been his mom for 10 years. Birthdays are about celebration and celebrations would be not a party without cupcakes. Or cinnamon rolls, or red velvet cake. My son has high baking demands when it comes to his week-long birthday extravaganza. He requested cinnamon rolls for his class treat, red velvet cake for his actual birthday dinner, and cupcakes for his friend party. The rest of my family is completely unaffected by my baking abilities, but William really appreciates a homemade baked good. He has learned to capitalize on it (flattery and his big blue puppy dog eyes work like a charm) and uses his birthday to see what I am really made of. He tests my baking chops.
This year he wanted to have a few of the boys from his class over to make homemade pizza. They were pros. They didn’t even make a mess of the kitchen, it was great. They played Madden until their thumbs were weak, we didn’t hear a peep other than the occasional touchdown noise, and it was one of the most enjoyable parties we have ever had. When it came to his kid party cake, he told me to surprise him. I know what you might be wondering, why did you pick a boring vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream? Well, because I heard that these were the best. Alison from The Alison Show talked about them on Instagram, and I figured that if she said that this was the best vanilla cupcake recipe, it was worth a go. Guess what? She was right. These cupcakes are divine. The thing about the batter and the buttercream is that both recipes have some specific steps – and that is what sets them apart from all others. The batter needs to rest. Makes perfect sense, so does pancake batter, why didn’t I think to rest my cupcake batter? The buttercream is the best I have ever had. Light, not too sweet, and the perfect texture. These cupcakes are from the Trophy Cupcakes & Parties book. I buy a lot of cookbooks, it is sort of my thing. A lot of books I skim through once or twice and shelve. This book I go to all the time. I love this book and it is a great one to add to your collection.
P.S. Alison has no idea who I am, but I love her. Any girl that appreciates a fountain soda and loves to dance in the kitchen as much as I do is okay in my book.
P.P.S My recipe below for buttercream is half of the original recipe. I had just enough frosting for 24 cupcakes. Next time, I would make the full recipe (so double this one) and have some leftover.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup plus 3 Tablespoons half-and-half
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 3/4 cups sugar
In a large bowl sift together flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a pitcher, whisk together milk, half-and-half, and vanilla. Set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Add eggs one at time, mixing well and scraping the bowl after you add each egg.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture.
Add 1/2 of the milk. You add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, and the liquid in 2.
When everything has been added scrape the bowl one more time. Let the batter rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two muffin tins with paper liners.
Fill the paper liners three quarters of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
The cupcakes will be pale in color. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until the butter is pale, very smooth, and makes a slapping sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. This takes about 30 seconds if you butter is really soft, a bit longer if the butter is cooler.
Add the sugar one cup at a time. Mix until it is incorporated before you add the next cup.
When all of the sugar has been added, scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and salt, beat on low speed for 15 seconds.
Increase the speed to high (or just high enough so that it doesn’t make a mess). Beat until whipped, light, and perfectly smooth, about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl once or twice. The frosting will look like it is getting really soft, but it will stiffen and increase in volume.
Add the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.
Add sprinkles. It’s a birthday after all.