I had been looking for the perfect vanilla cake recipe to use for an impending wedding order, and as the weeks past, the hunt continued. I had scoured the Internet, taken out practically every cookbook I owned and quite frankly, with two weeks to go, was starting to panic. Months earlier I had been in a similar situation, granted in less of a panic, to find a decent chocolate birthday cake and had turned to the book ‘What to cook & How to cook it’ written by the well-respected BBC food writer Jane Hornby. I love the book in terms of its structure and the great procedural photos but for someone who cooks as much as I do it always just seemed a bit ‘basic’. However, I had been proven wrong with the success of the Chocolate Truffle Cake and once again in a last ditch attempt I flicked through. What I found was a recipe for ‘frosted cupcakes’ that contained yogurt and almonds. The yogurt seemed like it could be an interesting addition but I swapped out the almonds for plain flour and proceeded to give the recipe a try.
For starters, this has got to be one of the easiest cake batters I’ve ever made. There’s no mixing or creaming or combining in additions. It is literally mix wet ingredients – pour onto dry ingredients – bake. And what a beautiful little cupcake it makes. It’s yellow, with quite a dense yet tender sponge, topped with a beautifully rounded golden dome. It cracks slightly but this can easily be covered with frosting. They tasted very vanilla and cakey with just a slight tang from the yogurt, which definitely lifted and lightened the flavour. I was extremely happy with these cakes and decided almost immediately I would be using them for my wedding order in a fortnight’s time – hooray success! However, for the batch at hand, to jazz things up a bit I decided to go with a blueberry theme. I filled the cupcakes with blueberry jam, folded the same jam into the buttercream and topped them off with a fresh blueberry.
A note on the buttercream. If you’re wondering, this is the best buttercream I have come across. It is a simple formula that basically combines butter and icing sugar so the key here is to buy the best butter you can find (and are happy to pay for) and in my experience that means the shortest list of ingredients. If you’re unsure of what type of butter you’re buying, this link might help. The butter I buy comes from Belgium and consists of just pasteurized cream, it’s creamy, pale and pure and really elevates this simple and really quite humble buttercream.
Very Vanilla Cupcakes
adapted from ‘What to cook & How to cook it’This recipe makes approx. 12 cupcakes, I doubled it to make 24.
- 6oz (175g) unsalted butter – melted and cooled
- ½ (150ml) cup plain (natural) yogurt (at room temperature)
- 4 medium eggs (at room temperature)
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 6oz (175g) caster sugar
- 5oz (150g) self-raising flour
- 3.5oz (100g) plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- BEST BUTTERCREAM – see recipe below
Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F – Line 12 muffin tin cups.
Whisk the eggs in a measuring jug and set aside.
In a medium bowl combine the cooled melted butter and the yogurt.
Add the vanilla and whisk by hand.
In a large bowl whisk the sugar, flours, and baking powder and then make a well in the centre.
Using a spatula, gently yet thoroughly mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until incorporated. DON’T OVERMIX.
Use an ice cream scoop to fill the cases just over ¾ full.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden domes then remove from the oven and leave them to cool for in the tin for 5 minutes.
To Fill the Cakes
Use a cake corer to remove the middles or alternatively use a small sharp knife to cut out a cone shape from the top of the cupcake.
Fill with blueberry jam or the filling of your choice
Stir in approximately 2 tablespoons of the same blueberry jam into the buttercream (see below)
Pipe on top of cupcakes, making sure to cover jam filled hole.
Top with blueberry!
BEST Buttercream Recipe
Enough for 12 cupcakes
- 4oz (115g) butter (room temperature)
- 8oz (260g) icing sugar (thoroughly sifted)
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Beat the butter in the mixer until smooth and pale (less than a minute)
Beat in the icing sugar in 2 or 3 additions
Add vanilla and milk – beat until fully incorporated and fluffy