Thursday, June 26, 2008

VANILLA CUPCAKES

BATTLE OF THE VANILLA CUPCAKES
As far as I'm concerned there are only 3 vanilla cupcake recipes comparable to one another and I'm on a mission to find out which is the best and once and for all rank them. 

THE CONTENDERS: Billy Reece's Recipe, Amy Sedaris' recipe, and last but not least (depending on the results), Mangolia's Bakery recipe.  I figured the only real way to find out is to make a batch of each and taste test them as my taste buds have never failed me before. I will also be using my co-workers as a form of consensus in this little bake-off. 

First up....(drum roll please...) is Billy Reece's recipe. Billy Reece owns Billy's Bakery located in the Chelsea area in Manhattan and they are known for their Vanilla Vanilla cupcakes. Therefore, that is exactly what I baked last night. I halved the recipe knowing that if I'm to make 3 different vanilla cupcake recipes in a matter of 3 days, odds are lots of cupcakes will be involved and I wanted to minimize the amount of cupcakes that present themselves on my waistline. Yikes!
I thought that since this bake-off is about the actual quality of the cake, I will be using a variation of the oh-so-generic and semi-boring 7-minute frosting. This frosting is the kind of frosting that won't overwhelm a cupcake because it's plain and not too sweet and I didn't want to take away from the taste of the cake.  I actually loved this frosting because of those exact reasons and will definitely be using it for future projects. This cupcake receives a 10 from me and, from the collective "ooo's and aaaa's", a 10 from my coworkers. These were unbelievable. Moist. Tasty. Sweet. Buttery. I can't wait to try the next two recipes!!

Up next........Amy Sedaris' recipe....stay tuned!

Billy's Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes about 30 cupcakes 
(I halved this recipe which made about 12 cupcakes-noted in red)
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
(3/4 c + 2 tbsp)
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
(1/2 c + 2tbsp)
2 cups sugar
(1 cup)
1 tablespoon baking powder
(1 1/2 tsp)
3/4 teaspoon salt
(1/2 tsp)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
(1/2 c-1 stick)
4 large eggs
(2 eggs)
1 cup whole milk
(1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
(1/2 tsp)

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.


7-Minute Frosting

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract


1. Put the sugar, water, egg whites, and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler with at least a 2-quart capacity and beat with a handheld electric mixer on high speed until opaque, white, and foamy, about 1 minute.
2. Put the bowl over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water. The top container should sit firmly over the pan of hot water.
3. Beat on high speed until the frosting forms a soft peak that stands straight up when the beaters are lifted, about 7 minutes.
4. Remove the bowl from the water, add the vanilla, and continue beating for 2 minutes to further thicken the frosting.

2 comments:

Bridget said...

How fun! I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of your thoughts. I almost made Amy Sedaris' recipe yesterday, but ended up going with a white cake recipe to use up egg whites. (But, I was deciding between 3 recipes as well - I should have made them all and compared!)

Mara said...

your 7 minute frosting looks so pretty and fluffy, love the little peaks.

i have a fabulous vanilla buttermilk recipe, that i swear is better than any of the 3 you are trying. maybe you can try it when you are done with all of them and let me know how it stacks up.

i made billy's and amy's and kind of created my own after figuring out things i didn't love about theirs. i am a fiend about a vanilla cupcake tasting LIKE VANILLA! ;)