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Vanilla Cupcakes

I adore Dan Lepard. And I adore his vanilla cupcakes recipe. Dan’s one of those precise bakers and cookbook writers who, when he says “beat for 30 seconds,” means “beat for EXACTLY 30 seconds.” No more and no less. And you better listen, because he not only takes the guesswork out of baking, he always adds a little somethin’ somethin’ to make his recipes sublimely superlative. For example, with these vanilla cupcakes, he’s added a smidge more flour than is customary to give them a buttery, pound-cake-like texture. The vanilla frosting, which in the hands of someone else would have been a standard-issue confectioners’ sugar version that tends to set my teeth on edge, turns silken with the simple yet genius addition of sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. Oh, hell, stop listening to me and just make the darn things, won’t you?!David Leite

LC What He Said Note

We can’t think of a single thing to add to David’s little outpouring of emotion above. Nothing at all. Just, you know, what he said.

Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes 10

Ingredients

  • For the cupcakes
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 9 tablespoons (4 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the frosting
  • 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Directions

  • Make the cupcakes
  • 1. Mix the flour and baking powder together in a bowl.
  • 2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the superfine sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla on the highest speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and beat for 30 seconds.
  • 3. Spoon the batter into 10 paper liners placed in the cups of a muffin tin. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • 4. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
  • 5. Bake the cupcakes until golden and firm, 20 to 25 minutes. The interior of the cupcakes should be very light and fluffy. [Editor's Note: Looks like you better designate at least 1 cupcake as your tester—just so you can be certain that the cupcakes are perfectly done, of course.] Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Make the frosting
  • 6. The butter should be as soft as possible without being melted. Place it in the clean bowl of the stand mixer, add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and cream, and beat until smooth and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • 7. Swirl the frosting thickly over the top of each cupcake. If by some uncanny turn of circumstances you have any cupcakes left over, don’t worry; the frosting will keep its shape if left at cool room temperature.

No Stand Mixer Required Variation

  • Making cupcakes—or any butter-rich cake—by hand with a wooden spoon requires a slightly different, but still traditional, tactic than the one explained in the instructions below if you want to get the right results. Warm your mixing bowl with a splash of boiling water, then wipe it dry. Measure the sugar and butter into the bowl, making sure the butter is very soft. Beat them together with a wooden spoon until smooth and slightly fluffy. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then add them, a little at a time, to the butter and sugar, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla. (We know what you’re thinking. But whereas an electric mixer can produce great results beating the butter, sugar, and eggs all at once, this more gradual method works best when working by hand.) Combine the flour and baking powder with the butter mixture in batches, again adding about 1/4 flour mixture at a time. Stop beating as soon as the mixture is smooth. (And be sure to sift your dry ingredients together first to get the lightest result. The author tested this, it’s true.) Spoon the batter into the paper liners and let them sit for a while for a lighter result, or bake right away if you’re in a hurry . (Don’t stress over this. The difference is slight.)
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