Vanilla Star Cupcakes

I’m going to start at the beginning: Vanilla Cupcakes.

Sometimes you just can’t beat them, and this time they’re a little bit special because they’re star shaped! I’ll take you through how I like to make them;

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter
120ml semi skimmed milk
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170°C, or 150°C for a fan oven. Get out all your ingredients, I find this helps me make sure I don’t forget anything!

If you’re like me, the butter will be straight out of the fridge and rock hard. Just chop it up into cubes and put in the microwave for half a minute to a minute. Put the flour, baking powder, caster sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl and beat with a hand held electric whisk, on a slow to medium speed, until you get a sandy consistency.

Slowly pour half the milk (60ml) down the side of the bowl and beat on a low speed until it’s just coming together. Beat the egg and vanilla extract with the remaining milk then pour this into the mixture and beat until it is just combined and the mixture is smooth, don’t overmix it.

Spoon the mixture (1 generous table spoon or an ice cream scoop full)  into the cases so they are two-thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (22 is spot on for me!) until they are golden brown and spring back to the touch. It’s really important to get the cooking time just right as if they are undercooked they will fall apart in a gooey mess, and overcooked they become a bit dense. A skewer inserted should come out clean.

Leave the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in the silicone cases before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. The great thing about silicone is they should literally fall out of the cases, if they don’t, leave them to cool a little longer as you might break them where they still are stuck to the case.

The downside to these star cases is they come in packs of 6, and I only bought one. So I turned out my first six, filled them with the remaining mixture and popped them in the oven. This mixture doesn’t mind sitting around for a little while as there’s no air in it to fall. The second batch came out fine.

Next up, make the Vanilla frosting. I make mine with semi skimmed milk (because it’s what I have in the fridge) and vanilla bean paste;

Frosting Ingredients:
250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter
25ml semi skimmed milk
½ tsp vanilla bean paste

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on a slow speed. Icing sugar has a tendency to go everywhere, so I put a tea towel over the top of the bowl to start with to contain the icing sugar cloud. 25ml is not a lot of milk, so I measure it in a spirit measurer. Combine the milk and the vanilla paste and slowly add to the icing sugar and butter. At this point, your electric whisk might start to struggle as the mix forms a ball, don’t worry just turn the whisk up high and it will start to soften and look more like frosting. Continue beating for 5 minutes or more until the frosting is beautifully white, light and fluffy, almost mousse-like in texture.

Time to ice your cupcakes! Don’t be shy with the frosting, put a large dollop in the middle of the cake and using a small knife drag down to the edges, adding more frosting if necessary. Then spread the frosting evenly over the top and swirl with the knife. I topped mine off with some edible gold stars.
*Kate’s Top Tip #1 – Don’t put your sieve in the sink!
When you make cupcakes with frosting, you’ll need your sieve twice. If you like to tidy up as you go and put it in the sink after you’ve made the cupcakes it will be damp for when you make your frosting and the icing sugar will just get stuck!
I’d love to hear your comments about this recipe. Try it out and let me know what you think!

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