Jack’s seventh birthday was Monday and his party was set for Saturday. It was Thursday and I needed a recipe for really yummy cupcakes asap. Jack had asked for vanilla on vanilla.
“Sure you don’t want red velvet?” I asked, hoping to use my tried-and-true red-velvet recipe.
“Vanilla,” he said.
So I googled “I am baker vanilla cake” — because if anyone would have a top-notch vanilla cake recipe, it would be Amanda. This is what I found:
She found it on epicurious, who found it in Cooks Illustrated — two of my favorite recipe sources, so I was pretty sure we were on the right track.
Then I read over the steps . . . cake flour (ugh), egg whites (double ugh). I never have cake flour in the pantry and, call me lazy, but separating egg whites is too much work (especially when I have my little “helpers” around). I like recipes where you just dump everything into one bowl, beat and bake.
So I made some changes: switched to all-purpose flour, used whole eggs, increased vanilla, decreased almond, and switched to baking soda (only because I was out of baking powder — pretty sure someone used it to make a vinegar volcano).
I thought for sure we’d have to make adjustments after the first batch, but nope! They were perfect! Or as my dad said, “really, really, really, really, reallllllly good cupcakes.”
Perfect Birthday Cake Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 stick butter (12 tablespoons), sliced into cubes
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup milk
Place flour, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl. (I used my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.) Beat on low speed just to combine.
Add cubes of butter to dry mixture. Cut in butter by beating on medium speed for about 1 minute.
Add vanilla and almond extracts. Then add about 1/2 of the milk and beat to combine. Add remaining milk and beat again. Add eggs and beat again until well combined. (There may be some small pieces of butter still visible — that’s okay.)
Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, about 3/4 full. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Add candles and sing! Then hold on tight before another year flies by!