Sunday, January 6, 2013

Vanilla Cupcakes with American Buttercream Frosting

A couple of months ago, my husband came up with this idea that sharing the gospel is a "piece of cake".  At the time we were both serving as ward missionaries, so the idea evolved to become a plan to make cupcakes for all the adult members of our ward and give them out with only a promise by the recipient that before the cupcake was eaten, the gospel would be shared in some sort of "easy" way.  Knowing that I am a cupcake connoisseur (or you could call me a cupcake snob, or just plain obsessed with cupcakes), I got the assignment to bake these 150+ cupcakes.  Really, I was actually excited for an excuse to try different cupcake recipes and frostings.  If I could come up with something even remotely resembling a Sprinkles cupcake, then I would be thrilled!  Fortunately, it didn't take long for me to find these recipes.  The cake is somewhat dense and the frosting is perfect (that is, of course, if you must do buttercream and not cream cheese frosting, which I will always prefer).  Oh my, I just wish I had another excuse to bake these again!

Vanilla Cupcakes
adapted from Pioneer Woman

1 cup Vegetable Shortening

1-3/4 cup Sugar

2-1/2 cups Cake Flour

1-1/4 teaspoon Salt

2 whole Large Eggs

1 cup Buttermilk

2-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1-1/2 teaspoon Vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with cupcake liner papers.
Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Set aside.
Sift together flour and salt. Set aside.
Mix eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda, and vinegar in a separate bowl.
Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the shortening mixture, mixing after each addition. Mix until totally combined.
Pour batter into cupcake liners. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until just done.  Remove from oven, then remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely. *I made the mistake of overcooking them almost every time because I waited until they looked brown and done before removing them from the oven.  They will still be almost white and look under-done in the middle of the cupcake.  They will finish cooking on the counter.  Trust me! 

American Buttercream Frosting
adapted from
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (salted, or unsalted)
1/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (best quality available)
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half or milk

1/2 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa (if you want chocolate instead of vanilla)
* In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter (on medium speed) until completely smooth (30 seconds to a minute). (If you are adding cream cheese, add it now, then beat until smooth)
* Add salt (if needed).
* One cup at time, add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating after each addition.
* Add vanilla, or other flavorings and beat to combine.
* Add about 1 tablespoon of cream, and continue beating.
* Add the remaining 2 cups powdered sugar, one at a time.
* Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons cream until desired consistency is reached.  If you want to pipe the frosting on cupcakes, the frosting should be nice and thick.  Continue to beat another minute or so.  The frosting should now be smooth and fluffy.
* If your frosting is not smooth, it is likely because the butter was not fully smooth before adding the other ingredients.
* If your frosting will not hold up when piped on cupcakes, your frosting has too much liquid or is too warm.  Put entire bowl of frosting in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and it will stiffen up.  If it is still too thin, then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar, beat well.


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