Saturday, June 21, 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes Part 2 (with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Bacon)

To the bacon lover, this cupcake is just another way to enjoy bacon.  To the non-bacon lover, this is an opportunity and/or a dare to be a little more adventurous!

The maple syrup and bacon combination is really nothing new.  However, having them both in a cupcake is not something you see everyday and can even be a repulsive idea to some. Come to think of it, this cupcake ticks all the boxes of good food - a medley of sweet, tangy, and salty, as well as a mix of different textures. Although I would not dream of eating this on a regular basis, for me, it was something I wanted to try even once.

To make these cupcakes, bake a batch of vanilla cupcakes using the recipe in the previous post or using your own favourite recipe.

To make candied bacon, you will need about 10-12 strips of streaky bacon.

1. Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees C.  Line a baking tray with aluminium foil.
2. Place brown sugar on a plate.  Cover each bacon strip with brown sugar.

3.  Transfer bacon strips to your prepared baking tray.

4.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes on one side then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes.  (The baking process might take longer depending on your oven and also on the thickness of your bacon.  What you want is for the bacon to be fairly crispy and golden brown.)

5.  Transfer bacon strips to a tray lined with baking paper and let cool completely.

6.  Chop bacon into small pieces.

To make the maple cream cheese frosting, follow the recipe here, substituting the vanilla extract with one tablespoon maple syrup.  Use to frost your vanilla cupcakes.

I used a large plain round  tip to pipe the frosting.

Top frosted cupcakes with a generous amount of candied bacon.

Now don't be scared to taste...just enjoy it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes Part 1

Vanilla cupcakes are probably my least favourite of all cupcakes. However, in as much as I avoid making them, I believe that as a baker, it is an absolute must for me to have a delicious and foolproof vanilla cupcake recipe in my repertoire.  That and chocolate cupcakes at least.  I have tried many different recipes over the years, mostly from famous bakers and bakeries, but never was I completely happy with any of them.  Mostly, the cupcakes were too buttery and/or oily and were no good for more than a day. And almost always, no matter what recipe I used, after beautifully rising in the oven, the cupcakes sank after baking. So frustrating! Really an enigma how something supposedly so basic can be so hard to perfect.

I don't know why I didn't think of trying this before.  Yesterday, using the red velvet cupcake recipe that always gave me perfect cupcakes, I made a few adjustments and came up with my own vanilla cupcake recipe.  And what do you know, I baked my best batch ever!

The cupcakes were very light and tender (owing to the use of buttermilk), had a fine crumb, with just the right sweetness and vanilla flavour. They rose to a good height and did not sink at all :)))).  Definitely much better than any other vanilla cupcake I have ever made.

Sure, as always, I am happy to share this recipe! Before that though, let me just give you a quick insight on how I came up with the amounts of baking powder and baking soda.  For leavening, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder or 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda is usually necessary for every cup of flour.  I did not use 100% baking powder as the recipe needed even a small amount of baking soda to neutralize the acid from the buttermilk.  With this in mind, I derived the proper amounts using simple math.  Clear enough?

On to the recipe.

VANILLA CUPCAKES (makes about 20)

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/4 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

1.  Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.  Line muffin trays with baking cups.
2.  In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to combine.  Set aside.
3.  Using an electric mixer,  starting from a low speed gradually increasing to high, cream butter and sugar together until very light in colour and fluffy.
4.  With mixer turned down to medium-low speed, beat in eggs one at a time.  Add in vanilla extract.
5.  In three additions, alternately add in flour mixture and buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Scrape bowl as needed to ensure that everything is incorporated well.  After the last addition,
beat at high speed for the last time for about 45-60 seconds.
6.  Using a 2" ice cream scoop, fill each baking cup with the cupcake batter.
7.  Bake for about 22-25 minutes.  Transfer each cupcake immediately to a wire rack to cool completely.

How did I finish off these cupcakes?

Looks interesting to you? Wait for Part 2.