We all need a good classic recipe up our sleeves, and what I've found in my years of baking is that those recipes and flavours that should be 'simple' are normally the most difficult to get exactly right.
As it turns out, there's much complexity in simplicity.
There's no where to hide.
The ingredients, the taste and the texture are all scrutinised because well, there's nothing else there.
I think that's what makes a simple vanilla cupcake actually so difficult to get perfect.
I'm not going claim that this is the 'best-ever' recipe, but I am really happy with it and so were my official taste testers!
I took my classic vanilla cupcake recipe that is very similar to a traditional Victoria sponge and added a few little twists in my attempt to improve the things that I find important in a vanilla cupcake.
To me, a good cupcake has to be nicely risen, lightly golden and puffy. It needs a soft tender crumb and a good buttery flavour. It can't be dry, tough or chewy. It also needs to have good keeping qualities. I need to know my cupcakes will be good for longer than 24 hours, which when making a classic Victoria sponge I found dryness started creeping in by the next day..
So what have I added?
I've substituted a small amount of self raising flour for plain as the cupcakes need good structure provided by the slightly higher protein content in plain flour.
Although butter is dominant in the cupcake a small addition of oil helps with moisture levels assisting the keeping quality.
Finally, plain yoghurt and milk are combined for tenderness ( yoghurt can be substituted for sour cream if needed ).
Quickly, a few things to keep in mind.
I weigh both the wet and dry ingredients using a digital scale as this gives consistent results in baking.
Although I measured everything out into little individual containers for the image above both flours can be weighed into one bowl, as can the oil, yoghurt and milk, this will save you on washing up!
I would absolutely love to know your thoughts on these cupcakes if you try the recipe!
Classic Vanilla Cupcakes
125 g unsalted butter, very soft but not melted
180 g castor ( superfine ) sugar
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
200 g self raising flour
50 g plain flour
25 g oil ( I used rice bran but any unflavoured oil is fine )
50 g natural yoghurt ( I buy those tiny little tubs and snack on the remainder )
125 g full cream milk
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste ( or extract )
1/4 teaspoon salt
adding lemon rind is completely optional but would make a delicious addition!