Cupcakes make me happy, especially vanilla cupcakes. But when it comes to buying cupcakes off the counter, I’m picky. Most cupcakes sold here are either rock solid due to being refrigerated or disappointingly tiny.
Call me old fashioned, but there are somethings that should stay pure and unadulterated – like men who send flowers for no reason or the size of cupcakes. Everything is constantly changing, cupcakes shouldn’t.
I remember baking my first batch of cupcakes way back in 2009. I was going through a rough time in my life. I had stumbled upon the recipe of Vanilla Cupcakes by The Hummingbird Bakery in Daily Mail [who would have thought tabloids could bring you so much joy?] Ever since then, I keep cupcake ingredients in my store cupboard for whenever the mood strikes.
There’s something about concentrating on the sound of sugar and flour being whisked that I find very calming. Every time, I’ve been upset, I whip up a batch. And for that moment I forget all the worries in the world. One of my happiest memories is when I found the perfect paddle – yes, I can be made happy very easily.
While I always make my own icing, I never really get the swirly look that I want. And now I’ve given up. I’d rather have my sloppily put icing, sprinkled with hearts [see first picture ] than perfect the swirly frosting. I’m sure I’ll get it right some day, but I’m in no rush.
Home cooking is about enjoying your imperfections. Sure, you may burn a batch or two when you start off. Or, in my case spill in too much baking powder, but mistakes are what make you good. And while, this will sound like me blowing my own trumpet [actually, it is me blowing my own trumpet, so listen clearly], I make some kick-ass cupcakes. 4 out 5 people who have tried my cupcakes usually like it.
So forget your red velvets and the fancy frills and enjoy a simple cupcake. And FYI, I don’t care whether you think India is a tropical country, under NO circumstances is it okay to chill a cupcake. Keep them outside, covered with a clear case, it’ll get eaten faster and every bite will be soft and delicious even after a day or two.
by Hummingbird Bakery
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
40g unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt [you can skip this is you are using normal butter]
1 medium egg
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
Vanilla icing [see recipe below]
12 hole cupcake tray [I can usually make only 8 cupcakes with the above ingredients]
Paper cupcake cases
– Preheat the oven to 170ºC/ 325ºF
– Using an electric whisk [or one with paddle attachment] slowly mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter till you achieve a sandy consistency.
– Pour half the milk [60ml] gradually into the mixture until its just incorporated.
– In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, vanilla essence and the remaining 60ml milk for a few seconds.
– Pour the egg, vanilla and milk mixture into the flour mixture until the mixture is smooth.
– Spoon in the mixture into the paper cases until half full and bake in the preheated oven, for 20 minutes.
– Prepare vanilla icing in the meanwhile [see recipe below]
– Once the cupcakes turn golden brown [and they will smell like cupcakes too] poke a small tooth pick or skewer in the centre. If it comes out clean, take the cupcakes out and allow them to cool.
20g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter, softened
A few drops of vanilla essence
– In a separate bowl, mix the milk and vanilla essence.
– Beat the icing sugar and butter together with a handheld electric whisk.
– Add the milk mixture to the sugar mixture 2tbsp at a time [while still beating the sugar mix] and continue beating the icing till its light and fluffy. The longer you beat the icing, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
– Spoon the vanilla frosting on the cooled cupcakes and decorate with edible sprinklers.
On a side note, today is my birthday.