Friday, March 11, 2011

My Favorite Moist White Cupcakes


"When you look at a cupcake, you've got to smile."

~ Anne Byrn
 



**** UPDATE 4/23/2013 ** I have a new white cupcake recipe! Here! The Best Moist and Fluffy White Cupcake Recipe.  BUT - I have heard reports from people that they still like this recipe the best, so try them both and you decide! This one is very moist. The one mentioned is moist, but I believe a little more fluffy, so it depends on which is the most imporant to you.

I make alot of cupcakes. I bake cupcakes for my husband's work, and white cupcakes are the most requested. To be specific, "white cupcakes with that butterscotch frosting". That butterscotch frosting, is a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, my all time favorite frosting.

I went through a time where I wasn't happy with the white cake recipe I was using, so I tried different recipes. I mean I tried many recipes. I used one from Americas Test kitchen, one from Amy Sedaris, and one from Magnolia Bakery. I made one from Martha Stewart and I even used a recipe from The Cake Bible. They were all fine, not bad at all, just not what I was looking for. You see, I was looking for a really moist cake with a great vanilla flavor. I didn't care if the crumb was right. I didn't care if it was a proper cake. I just wanted it to be moist and really yummy. An all American cupcake.


I think here in the U.S. we are accustomed to cake mix cake, and doctored cake mix cake. Which is not really a proper cake that you would find in maybe France or England. But what do I know? I've never been to Europe I just imagine that's where a proper cake lives.

I have also seen people from other countries eat a cake mix cake and wow, they don't like it at all. They aren't into the artificial flavor. I'm not into the fake flavor either, but I can't say I don't love the texture of a doctored up cake mix, so hence the search.

I was about to make the recent cupcake request, and I decided to try yet another recipe. As I was reading through recipe after recipe I found it. A Texas white sheet cake, you can't get more American than that. I love me a Texas sheet cake. They are always very moist and really delicious. So I made cupcakes with said recipe.



And all be darned, these were some great cupcakes! They are very moist, and super yummy. I think I found my favorite white cake recipe. And easy! I can't say that wasn't a fantastic unexpected side effect. You make it all in one big saucepan. I think it took me about the same amount of time a cake mix would, I kid you not. You don't even need a mixer. You don't need a mixer for the cake, that is.


I wish I could say this frosting is easy as well. But what am I gonna do? It's my favorite frosting of all time. It tastes of butter, and whatever flavor you add to it, but it's lighter than butter. It is not overly sweet. It's a frosting that many bakeries use. In fact a great local European bakery (that has since closed) used it, and I loved the their buttercream. My husband is not a frosting fan and he loves this, he says it tastes like ice cream.





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The frosting is a little laborious, I'll forgive you if you just want to make the cake and use a different frosting.
It isn't difficult, it is pretty straightforward, and definitely worth it. It calls for liqueur, which is pretty important. It cuts the straight butter taste. It doesn't taste like there is any alcohol in it. You can use any flavor of liqueur you'd like. The bakery I mentioned used Kirsch. I use it also sometimes, but I also use Butterscotch schnapps, and sometimes Frangelico, or Amaretto.
 
 
 


My Favorite White Cupcakes  
 
**Edited to add ** 3/24/2013 - I have increased the leavening in this recipe. I have been making these for years now and I find it makes them a little lighter, a little more fluffy yet still really moist. They still are not the most fluffy recipe on the planet, but they are super moist and really delicious. Whenever I make them I get rave reviews. I also changed the yield. I find they make a little more than the 36 previously noted, more like 40.
 
makes about 40 cupcakes - the recipe can easily be halved if you need less

For The Cupcakes

Ingredients

2 cups (1 lb)  (454 g.) butter

2 cups (473 ml) water

4 cups (403 g.) all-purpose flour

3 cups (583 g.) sugar

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup (122 g.) sour cream

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 Tablespoon plus 2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons baking soda

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 Celsius or Gas Mark 4. In a large saucepan add the butter and water and cook until butter is melted. Remove from heat and add sugar, stir it till dissolved, then add sour cream, eggs and extracts. Whisk until well combined. Let cool to room temperature before proceeding.  Edited to add** In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda, then whisk the dry ingredients into the batter until well mixed. 

Pour the batter into a large container with a pour spout, like a large measuring cup. Pour the batter into muffin tins lined with cupcake wrappers. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Edited to add***Don't open the oven until 18 minutes have passed. Sometimes recipes say to turn the pan half way through cooking time, don't do this here. The reason is because there is so much moisture in this recipe you need that cooking time before opening the oven or else they may fall, and never rise.

Cool cupcakes on wire racks. Frost them when totally cool.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

this amount covers the 36 cupcakes in the recipe

adapted from this recipe

You really need a stand mixer for this recipe, you might be able to do it with a hand mixer, but I've never tried. So I'm going to give the instructions based on using a stand mixer.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs unsalted butter (680 g.) (6 sticks) room temperature

1 3/4 cups (340 g.) granulated sugar

10 egg whites  (10 oz. 336 g.)

1 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract, or the extract of your choice.

2 Tablespoons liqueur, such as Amaretto, or Frangelico or Butterscotch schnapps, or Kirsch, or any flavor you'd like

Directions

First of all, it's really important that your butter is at room temperature. So if it's not already, go put your butter on the counter. I say this because usually when I see that in a recipe I just pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds and it works perfectly. But here it doesn't work as well, since the microwave heats it unevenly.

Place your egg whites and sugar in a double boiler or a bowl that sits on a pot of simmering water with the bowl not touching the water (a bowl that is NOT the bowl of your stand mixer, unless you have 2.) Lightly whisk the sugar and whites until it becomes 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or 60 degrees Celsius. Or if you don't have a thermometer, until it's hot to the touch.

Pour the hot white mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer (make sure the bowl is room temperature,) and mix with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium high until it has doubled in volume, when the mixer stops it should not move around in bowl. Remove the whisk and turn it upside down, the meringue should stand straight in the air.

Cut up the butter into 1 inch pieces. It should be moist on the outside but still cold inside.

On your stand mixer remove the whisk and attach the paddle. Add half the butter pieces into the bowl and immediately pulsate the mixer several times by turning it on and off in a jerky motion, this forces the butter to the bottom of the bowl. Do it until the meringue has covered the butter completely.

Turn the mixer on low. Gradually add some of the remaining butter pieces while the mixer is on, add a few pieces of butter, then turn the mixer up a speed, then add a few more, turn it up again, do this until you have used all of the butter. Don't go higher in speed than medium high.

Now beat it on medium high for about 5 minutes. At this point I walk away and come back. I always get worried it's not going to come out right. (I've made this dozens of times.) The reason is because it goes through all kinds of stages. In the end it will be the consistency of whipped butter only a little lighter. The picture above (the one in the mixing bowl) is the finished frosting.

When it's done turn the speed to low. Add the flavorings and liqueurs. Taste it and add a little more if it needs it.  Don't go overboard, but if the flavor isn't pronounced, you run the risk of it tasting solely of
whipped butter.

Frost the cupcakes using a pastry bag, or by using a zip top bag with a corner cut off.

This frosting needs to be eaten at room temperature because it solidifies like butter does when cold. So if you are serving them the next day, refrigerate them, but remove them from the fridge in plenty of time for them to come to room temperature.

53 comments:

E.C. said...

wow great post! i love the humor and the pictures. i'm not a big baker but i've got to try this. wish me luck...

The Alchemist said...

E.C. Thank you and Good Luck!

Amanda said...

I love cupcakes, these sound wonderful.

Carmen said...

Hi, just wondering if the almond extract leaves any taste at all? I'm not a big fan of it and just wanted to know.

The Alchemist said...

Carmen- It leaves a slight taste I dont think you can put your finger on it, but if you don't like it, I'd leave it out.

Lisa said...

I can see why these would be your favorite. Looks like they really have good results.

cindy said...

I must try these cupcakes. They look beautiful. Love that frosting--I've made if before, labor intensive but oh so yummy.

Carmen said...

Hi again, finally going to try these recipes and was wondering what I could use instead of liquers as I'm making them for my boyfriend's co-workers and don't know if they want it in there at work.

The Alchemist said...

Carmen- if you need to leave out the alcohol, you would just add more flavoring of whatever flavor you are looking for. If I were making it for my people who want butterscotch flavor, I'd just add butter extract along with some vanilla. Taste it after you mix it in, and add more if it needs it.

Like I mentioned in the recipe, the alcohol cuts through the straight butter flavor. So make sure you add enough of whatever extract you are using to avoid it tasting like just butter.

Carmen said...

Thanks so much for your help. The cakes turned out perfect and absolutely delicious. I love a moist and firm cake so I'm so happy with it. I was a bit concerned when the mixture turned lumpy after adding the flour but it didn't make a difference in the end.

I also ended up using a different recipe for the buttercream as I wanted to add some raspberry puree and it worked out brilliantly. Keeping this recipe for another time though. Thanks again!

Rather Peachy said...

These are actually baking right now! haha
but I was wondering what tip you used to frost them??

The Alchemist said...

Rather Peachy- I hope you like them! I used a 1M tip. I also use
2D often.

Jenn said...

I have been searching for the perfect white cake recipe. What a great idea using a sheet cake recipe. I think I have every recipe you said you tried on my "to try" list! Too funny. Your frosting sounds amazing.

nieshka said...

I read your comment about what to substitute when you don't want to use the alcohol in the buttercream. But what exactly is butter extract? I really want to try the butterscotch flavor, but I don't think butter extract is readily available where I am. Is there another substitute? And what proportions do I use? I really want to make these cupcakes for our next office outing!

The Alchemist said...

nieshka- Thanks for your comment.

Butter extract can be found at a cake supply store, or a craft store like Michaels in the cake decorating section.

If you want it to taste like the butterscotch flavor you could add a flavor like butter pecan extract. Since you mention that you may not be able to find the butter extract, I would go to a store and see what is available. I believe the main brand of extracts in most American grocery stores, Mc Cormick, makes a butter pecan? extract, or something similar, you could try that. I also use Watkins extracts sometimes and even Walmart started carrying some of them, I know they have a butter pecan flavor.

If vanilla is the only extract you have access to, vanilla only would work, use about 1 1/2 Tablespoons.
If you use another extract such as the butter pecan one if you find it, the way I do it, is add a few tsp. of the butter pecan extract plus a few tsp of vanilla then taste it and add more if I feel it needs it. Sometimes the butter pecan extracts can be strong tasting, so starting small, tasting then adding more is a good way to do it so you don't ruin all of your hard work by adding too much at once.

I hope that helps, and I hope you enjoy them!

Tracy said...

This is exactly what I have been searching for! Do you think the same recipe for the cupcakes will work at high altitude? (5500 ft).
Thank you!

The Alchemist said...

Hi Tracy- Thanks for stopping by. I've never baked at a high altitude, sorry, I don't know.

But I did a quick search and found out this info from allrecipes for 5,000 altitude baking.


Adjustment for 5000 feet:


•Reduce baking powder: for each teaspoon, decrease 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon.
•Reduce sugar: for each cup, decrease 0 to 2 tablespoons.
Increase liquid: for each cup, add 2 to 4 tablespoons.

•Increase oven temperature by 25 degrees F.


I hope that helps! And I hope you enjoy them!

Debbie said...

Can you decrease the amount of butter so it isn't such a strong butter flavor?

The Alchemist said...

Debbie- I've never tried it so I can't speak to the results if you did.

Lindsay said...

AMAZING!!! I've been looking (for a loooooong time) for the perfect white cake recipe and I've found it!!

The Alchemist said...

Lindsay- I'm so glad you enjoyed them, and thanks for letting me know, it made my day!

annette said...

what is 'kirsch'? in german it means cherry, i know that..cause i'm german :D

is it a cherry liquor?
i'm probably gonna use amaretto, but i'd like to know what kirsch is anyway haha

The Alchemist said...

Annette- Yes, Kirsch is a cherry liqueur.

Jodi said...

WOW!! Thank you so much for finding this recipe! I have a small baking business and I, like you, play around with recipes and have been trying, for a year, to find the perfect white cake recipe. Tried tons! The Test Kitchen was delicious, and if I remember correctly, very moist. BUT so many steps! Who needs that?! This recipe is even better than that one and absolutely so moist and absolutely delicious AND so EASY. It's as moist and easy as my fav chocolate cake recipe!! Just what I have been searching for! I made it yesterday for my parent's 80th birthdays and their 60th Anniversary! Everyone loved it!!! Thank you so much!!!! The only change was I used vanilla only. You are the best! Have also made your Red Velvet! Again, moist and delicious!!! Thank you again! God Bless!!! :0)

Jodi said...

WOW!! Thank you so much for finding this recipe! I have a small baking business and I, like you, play around with recipes and have been trying, for a year, to find the perfect white cake recipe. Tried tons! The Test Kitchen was delicious, and if I remember correctly, very moist. BUT so many steps! Who needs that?! This recipe is even better than that one and absolutely so moist and absolutely delicious AND so EASY. It's as moist and easy as my fav chocolate cake recipe!! Just what I have been searching for! I made it yesterday for my parent's 80th birthdays and their 60th Anniversary! Everyone loved it!!! Thank you so much!!!! The only change was I used vanilla only. You are the best! Have also made your Red Velvet! Again, moist and delicious!!! Thank you again! God Bless!!! :0)

lovexiaolongbao said...

Hi there,

i tried making your cupcakes but i realize something is wrong with the recipe measurements. The cups are not equivalent to the weight in grams (which i followed). Only the butter is right. eg. 4 cups of flour suppose to be 500g not 403g.

may i know which is the right measurement?

The Alchemist said...

lovexiaolongbao - I'm sorry you had trouble with the recipe. I weigh the ingredients with a good digital scale (for the weighted ingredients, the liquid ingredients I refer to a chart.)

I weigh the ingredients as I go, I measure the flour into the cup, then weigh it and note the grams.

Flour, an ingredient I use often, on my scale reads 100 g. per 1 cup. There could be different variables, my flour could be packed in the cup more than the other measurement that you are refering to. So these measurements are the correct measurements per my scale. I'm sorry I can't be of more help.

lovexiaolongbao said...

hmmm. okay maybe i try again using the cup measurements and convert this to my own weight. I use convert.com to convert from cups to grams. Let u know again!

Susan said...

Oh I'm so glad to find you. I'm looking foward to trying your recipes. I love what you posted by Marianne Williamson. It was just what I needed to read.

The Alchemist said...

Susan- I'm so glad to be of help! Thank you for taking the time to let me know.

Anonymous said...

We found these were definitely like pound cake. Quite heavy and buttery.

Deana Rullan said...

I am so stoked to try this recipe. Im obsessed with cupcakes...I fall asleep thinking about them...new things to try etc... was wondering though, could you use crisco in the frosting so as not to "have to" refrigerate? I love butter but I was just curious. Thanks!! :)

The Alchemist said...

Deana - I love cupcakes too!

I'm sorry I don't know the answer to your question. I've never tried it. If you try it I'd love to know the results. I don't know how long you want these to sit out, but I would feel comfortable leaving these out for a few hours at least. But I don't know how hot it is where you live, since butter would melt in the heat where crisco wouldn't.

A concern in using crisco for me would be taste. The taste relies on the other flavorings because the butter taste is pretty up front, without the flavorings it would taste like straight butter. I would be afraid the flavor would taste only of crisco, but I guess you could up the flavorings in that case.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

couldn't wait to try the recipe,i actually gathering the ingredients right now ;) i wanted to ask you, can we substitute a sour cream with yoghurt? Thanks for your reply

The Alchemist said...

Annon- Yes, you can use yogurt instead of sour cream.

I hope you enjoy them!

Anonymous said...

Can I half the recipe? How much baking soda would be required? Thanks.

The Alchemist said...

Annon - Yes, you can halve the recipe. 1/2 tsp of baking soda, or you can use the whole tsp. either way will work since it's such a small amount.

scrumptious jenny said...

if the weight measurement was done by you and not from a chart, doest that mean in order to get your results i'd be better off following the weight instead of the volume right? because flour can be hard to measure by volume. in this recipe depending on which i go for there's 100g difference. that's too much of a risk

Spicedogs said...

Just wondering-my daughter wants to make her signature rainbow cupcakes but from scratch rather than a mix and that requires the addition of lots of food coloring. She makes seven colors(the rainbow) and adds some of each to each cupcake paper. Will this recipe stand up to the color addition and the blending?

Spicedogs said...

Just wondering-my daughter wants to make her signature rainbow cupcakes but from scratch rather than a mix and that requires the addition of lots of food coloring. She makes seven colors(the rainbow) and adds some of each to each cupcake paper. Will this recipe stand up to the color addition and the blending?

The Alchemist said...

Spicedogs- I've never done it, so I don't know for absolutely sure, but I think it will be fine.

Good luck, I hope they turn out great!

annasueki a.s said...

can i substitute the sour cream to buttermilk instead?

The Alchemist said...

annasueki a.s - I'm not sure, I've never done it, but I'd say, probably.

Good luck!

Melissa @ The Alchemist

Kristin Lambert said...

Is it possible to use lemon extract to make these cupcakes lemon flavored? I've been looking for a lemon cupcake recipe and haven't found one that makes more than a dozen cupcakes.

The Alchemist said...

Hi Kristen, yes they can be made as lemon cupcakes, but I personally would do more than add lemon extract. (I am actually going to make a lemon cupcake recipe by adapting this recipe and I will blog about it soon.)

I would replace 1/2 a cup of water from the 2 cups of water called for in the recipe with fresh lemon juice. So instead of 2 cups of water, I would add 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice, and I would also add a tablespoon or 2 of lemon zest. Use a microplane to get the zest very fine, and only use the yellow part of the lemon. Omit the almond extract, but still use 2 tsp. of vanilla extract.

I hope that works out well for you. Good Luck!

Kristin Lambert said...

Thank you so much. The lemon cupcakes were a huge hit. I paired the cupcakes with a raspberry buttercream. I loved the lemon flavor of the cupcakes only i wish they had been a bit fluffier.

The Alchemist said...

Kristin, I'm so glad they were a hit. yeah these cupcakes aren't the fluffiest cupcakes out there. Raspberry buttercream sounds like a great pair.

Thanks for letting me know!

Victoria Caballero said...

Hi,
I would like to make this recipe but I am in doubt. Since in Europe we do not use ounces nor cups I need the ingredients in grams. So normally I convert the recipes in ounces or cups into grams but in your recipe I am bit confused about some quantities. For example as I understand 1 cup of all purpose flour is 130-140grs so in your recipe 4 cups of APF should be like 520 gr and not 403gr, it is a huge difference for flour. The same for the sugar, 1 cup normally is 200 grs, so 3 cups should be 600 grs, you put 583gr which is not a big difference in this case but still a difference.
I wonder how do you convert the quantities or if you really use grams.
Thanks.

Victoria

The Alchemist said...

Hi Victoria - The way I do it is I measure the ingredients with a cup measure (or 1/2 cup measure, whatever is suitable for the recipe) then I weigh it. Every time for every recipe. I don't use a chart. The discrepancies come from the fact that flour weighs a different amount based on humidity and other barometric pressures etc. it doesn't always weigh the same.

papillon said...

For the cupcake,can I replace butter with oil? Just like the recipe in your fluffy white cupcakes.

papillon said...

For the cupcake,can I replace butter with oil? Just like the recipe in your fluffy white cupcakes.

Ama Wilcox said...

Hi .... I tried out your recipe and it was amazing. I was just wondering if I could apply this same recipe to a full sponge cake and maybe include a pudding filling

The Alchemist said...

Ama - I'm so glad you like the recipe! Yes, you can make it into a cake. Just make sure to grease the pans well and even use parchment paper to line the bottoms of the pan, then grease the paper. Bake it about the same time you would for another cake recipe of the same size.

Happy baking!