Everyone needs a base recipe for simple, light and fluffy cupcakes. This is the one I’ve settled on after much tweaking and revising and I’m excited to share it with you. Lovely domed tops, moist and soft as a cloud interior, luscious flavour.
This is not one of this one-bowl-wonder recipes. This is one of those big-pile-of-washing-up recipes. Sorry about that. But these cupcakes are totally worth it! You can switch out some flour for cocoa, or add sprinkles or choc chips if you like (add any dry additions with the flour). If you want to make rainbow cupcakes, divide the batter and colour it before you fold in the egg whites (which you’ll have to divide as well, naturally).
Makes 21 medium sized cupcakes
350g (2 4/5 cups) cake flour (see note below)
12g (3 tsp) baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
200g (1 cup) granulated (white) sugar
170g (1 1/2 sticks, 3/4 cup) butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, separated
240ml (1 cup) milk
2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
125g (1 cup, unsifted) powdered (confectioners’) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp whole cream (or milk, for a thinner glaze)
edible confetti or sprinkles for decorating (optional)
Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Line 2 muffin pans with 21 cupcake liners.
Whisk together flour (and cornstarch, if using), baking powder and salt into a bowl.
In a second bowl, beat the egg whites to firm peaks.
In another bowl, cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, then add milk and vanilla and mix well.
Fold in flour mixture until just combined, then fold in beaten egg whites until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for about 22 minutes, swapping pans after 10 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from muffin pans and cool completely on a wire rack before glazing.
Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl, add the vanilla then add cream one tablespoon at a time until you have a thick but pourable consistency. Drizzle or spread over cakes and sprinkle with decorations as desired.
NOTE: While proper cake flour is bleached white flour that has been milled extra fine, you can employ a cake flour hack using all-purpose (plain) flour and cornstarch. For this recipe, measure 310g (scant 2 1/2 cups) all-purpose (plain) flour and add 40g (5 tbsp) cornstarch.
The recipe for the hack is a question of ratio.
To make 1 cup of “cake flour”, scoop 1 cup of all purpose (plain) flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour and replace them with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Whisk together thoroughly before use.
To convert for weight, just remember that 1 tablespoon of cornstarch weighs about 8g and 1 cup of cake flour weighs about 130g, so for every 130g of cake flour called for, replace 16g of it with corn starch.
For either method, it doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect, just as close as is easiest will suffice.