Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thanks Hilary

Almost Cake Mix Vanilla Cupcakes
from Nosh With Me

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup Crisco shortening, room temperature
2 cups sugar, ground in the processor until fine (measure before processing) I used superfine sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract I used more
1/8 teaspoon almond extract or lemon extract I didn't use this
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour (or combined together) I used all cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup warm half-and-half cream or full-fat milk (this is important, warm the milk!) I used half-and-half


1. Set oven to 375 degrees (will reduce oven temperature just before baking cupcakes).
2. Line 24 muffin pans with paper cupcake liners.
3. In an electric mixer, cream butter and shortening until fluffy.
4. Add in the eggs (one at a time) and the extracts and beat about 3-4 minutes on high speed (the mixture will seem to be a bit lumpy but will even out when you add in the sugar).
5. Add in the sugar; beat well (another 3 minutes) until sugar is COMPLETELY combined.
6. In a bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
7. Blend into the creamed ingredients, along with the warm milk until smooth (about 3 minutes).
8. Fill the prepared pans about two-thirds full.
9. IMMEDIATELY, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
10. Place the cupcakes in oven, and bake for about 20-24 minutes, or until the cupcakes test done.

Makes 24 cupcakes. (Hilary said she got about 30 which I can believe. I got 24 and a pie pan full of batter than I baked off in the toaster oven.)

I saw this recipe some time ago on Hilary's blog, Nosh With Me. I've made them before but I didn't blog about them because I try to stick to cookbook recipes. However, since recipes are slim around here these days and because I don't think anyone should miss this recipe, I'm telling you about them this time.

I have the worst luck with cupcakes. They're so easy to overbake. My older oven doesn't bake them very easily. They never turn out as cute as I want them to. I keep trying though.

This recipe is a winner, good enough that I don't feel the need to find another vanilla cupcake recipe. I did have some problems with them cooking evenly but that's because my oven is horrible, I used two different types of cupcake pans (silicone and metal) that gave two very different results, and I think I might have forgotten to turn down the oven to 350.

I still got a moist, great tasting cupcake, they just browned a little more on top than I would have liked (which I covered with frosting) and as usual, the liners looked horrible. The liners always look horrible. I could have doubled these liners (added another one after baking) but I didn't have extra. I've never had luck doubling cupcake liners since the ones I usually buy sort of fan out but these were straighter and doubling would have worked, had I had access to more of the liners.

I usually can't manage to pipe on the frosting using a piping bag but with my new Pampered Chef decorator, it was so fast and easy. I bought that months ago but this is the first time I used it. It worked great. Hopefully the frosting and sprinkles took everyone's eyes off of the yucky liners.

Question of the Day: Did you ever have any character cakes for your birthday? I never did that I can remember. It was always standard Carvel ice cream cakes. For my sister's 16th birthday, she had a Carvel Cake with John Travolta on it (Grease was the rage at the time) but that's the closest thing to a character cake our house ever saw.


MommyProf said...

I find that if I put cupcakes in on an airbake sheet, they are harder to overbake.

Unknown said...

I usually had ice cream cakes. Though one year I had a ballerina on my cake and another year I had a butterfly cake. My 3rd b-day I had a Wuzzles party but my aunt made my cake FLOWERS (really big flowers). Who knows why we didn't have a character cake then?!

Stephanie said...

For the QOTD: My mom has a friend who is a talented cake baker/decorator. She made many of my b-day cakes; some might have been characters (Strawberry Shortcake, maybe?) but I don't really remember. The one I remember most was a replica of my stuffed teddy bear.

I've been using the cupcake recipe from the ATK Family cookbook. It's okay, but kind of dense. I'll have to give this one a try.

For the liners have you tried putting two in each spot before putting the batter in and then baking that way? Last week I did that by accident on a few of the cupcakes I made for my son's birthday. Those few ended up with pretty papers, while the others that only started with one liner turned kind of translucent. That would save you the effort of trying to slip them on afterward.

Anonymous said...

For my son's 2nd birthday, I made him a Pooh Bear cake. Our cockapoo decided he'd like some too and ate a huge chunk out of it the night before the party. I cut another huge chunk out from where he had eaten & brought it to McD's for the party. Only did that because it was family & close friends who totally understood & had a good laugh about it.
But my favorite would have to be the simple moon-shaped cake in light purple and star-shaped cookies with yellow icing surrounding it. It was magical looking!

Anonymous said...

Never had my own character cake. Most of the kid's birthdays I've attended in the past few year have had them. Our godsons mom makes one for each of her kids birthdays and they get pretty involved. I'm going to try to make one for my cousins 50th birthday party coming up...scary adventure that will be.

Anonymous said...

No, but I was a child in the 1940's and things were pretty basic. As a grandmother I've seen my daughter make some wonderful cakes. Some were by directions of placing various sections together (mermaid, dog face, flower, castle, sun come to mind). One by imagination (a beehive for Winnie the Pooh party.) It's a whole new world for this old lady!

Love the Sponge Bob stuff.


Anonymous said...

Oh Yay! Glad you're still using the recipe. It is great...it's my go to vanilla cupcake recipe!

Randi said...

We always had carvel ice cream cakes too.