Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Best Moist and Fluffy White Cupcake Recipe

"When the world quiets to the sound of your own breathing, we all want the same things: Comfort, love, and a Peaceful Heart."
- Mitch Albom from the book, Have a Little Faith

"We all want the same thing." We all want to be recognized, and to be acknowledged. Sort of like the scene in the movie, Avatar, where they say, "I see you." If you're an Oprah fan, (like I am), you may have heard her utter those words.
Making the base of the frosting, almost like making a thick pudding.

There's one more thing we all want. A moist cupcake. That's the feedback I get over and over, time and time again. That's the main reason people say they don't like cake. They say, "because it's dry."

The "pudding" getting thick! This is added to whipped butter to make the most luxurious, silky and not too sweet frosting that pipes beautifully! It tastes like ice cream.

Moist cake is sort of my thing. It's the number one most important thing to me in cake. My previous go to white cupcake recipe, called appropriately, My Favorite White Cupcakes, is a fabulously moist and delicious recipe. But I knew while they were super moist, they aren't the most fluffy recipe in the world.

This needs to cool down before adding it to the butter.
I get a lot of comments about my cupcakes, and many people tell me it's their go to white cupcake recipe. But I've also gotten comments from people telling me they wished they were a little fluffier. 

Beating the egg mixture for the cupcakes - I have free range chickens who produce eggs with bright orange yolks, so if you are using supermarket eggs, just know that your batter and cupcakes will be a more pale yellow and not as bright as mine. FYI.

Ask and you shall receive! I'm so glad I embarked on this journey.  Because the results are worth it. And a journey it's been. Finding a cupcake that's super moist, while being fluffy, with the perfect texture, and a nice rounded top. I've been making these cupcakes (with different variations in the ingredients, to get it right) every day for a week, sometimes twice in one day. I never thought I would say this, but I don't think I can eat, taste, or get near one more cupcake. (For at least a few days anyway.)

Weighing the sour cream - When creating a recipe, I measure out the cup measurement, then I immediately weigh it, for those who live in countries who don't use cup increments like we do here in the U.S. Sometimes I'm asked why 1 cup of sugar is slightly different from one recipe to the next, and this is why. It could weigh slightly different from the last time, depending on the barometric pressure and other environmental factors.
These cupcakes are oil based. In general oil based cakes are more moist, since butter has some water content, and oil is pure fat. (There are exceptions to that of course, since My Favorite White Cupcakes are butter based.) The other ingredient that makes cake moist is sour cream, and this recipe is full of it. I always use full fat sour cream, and I recommend you do as well. If you live in a country that doesn't sell sour cream, or if it's not available, you can substitute full fat yogurt or full fat Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt would be the closest substitute to sour cream.

Making the batter

About the fluffy. I've included cornstarch in this recipe, more than you would normally see in any cake or cupcake recipe. The reasoning behind that is, I don't usually purchase cake flour, if I make a recipe that calls for it, I just use the DIY substitute which is a few tablespoons of cornstarch to one cup of all purpose flour. So I knew it would help in the lightness or fluffiness of the cake. Plus, you know when you eat some really good, melt in your mouth kind of shortbread? It's the cornstarch.

Right out of the oven

Seriously, these cupcakes are so fluffy and super moist at the same time, the texture is amazing!

The third universal desire that we all want?
A frosting that isn't too sweet.

I made these cupcakes many times in the last week (tweaking the recipe here and there.) This batch I used grease proof liners, and I recommend you do too.

Seriously. I used to bake for a cafe. I also sold cakes for a living. When asked what type of frosting do you want, more than anything else, people would respond, "something that isn't too sweet."

It's so important to people, sometimes even more important than the flavor.

I love these liners from Reynolds, (they aren't paying me to say this, I just love them) they are lined with foil and totally greaseproof. You don't need to use this brand, but I would definitely look for liners that are greaseproof for this recipe, since one of the batches I used regular liners and the very bottoms got a little bit oily, it wasn't a big deal, but with these liners it was a non issue.

This frosting fits the bill, not too sweet, and tastes heavenly. What it is, is basically thick homemade vanilla pudding mixed with whipped butter. First you make the pudding portion. It's made with sugar, flour and milk. Flour, in a frosting! You may say, but when you think about it, it needs to get body from something other than powdered sugar, like a typical American buttercream would. And, it's sort of like making a roux for a white sauce. Flour is what thickens it. When making a white sauce, you cook the flour taste out of it. Which is something you do here as well. Just make sure to cook it for the full 3-4 minutes and you won't even know that it's there.

Here's the liners I used along with the little pearls, these liners work great, these didn't get oily either. I've used this brand before and I like them, plus with this type of cupcake liner, you can cook them all at one time, since they stand on their own on a baking sheet, no muffin tin needed.
This frosting tastes amazing. And, It's a dream to pipe! It keeps it's shape standing tall and proud on a cupcake. It really got rave reviews with everyone I served it to.

My finished frosting

So this is officially my new favorite white cupcake recipe!

The frosting is sort of beige due to the amount of vanilla extract in the recipe, if you want the frosting to be more white, you'll need to use clear vanilla.

There's one more thing that everyone wants. A homemade cupcake! Made with care by the hands of someone who loves them. Who wouldn't want that?


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Looking for more awesome cupcake recipes?
Pink Velvet Cupcakes (also very moist and delicious!)
My Favorite White Cupcakes (not my favorite white cupcake recipe anymore) BUT these cupcakes are topped with one of my favorite frosting recipes in the world, Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which is also not too sweet and really delicious.  

From top left - Indiana Milk Glass Cake Stand, Small German Porcelain Cake Stand with Pink Flowers, Fenton Spanish Lace Milk Glass Cake Stand, and Antique Johnson Bros Plates with Pink Roses, available at my Etsy shop, House of Lucien.

Enter coupon code ALCHEMY for 20 percent off of your order!

The Best Moist and Fluffy White Cupcake Recipe - with Silky (Not too sweet!) Vanilla Frosting

An original recipe by me, Melissa aka The Alchemist - Feel free to pin, but **Please do not publish this recipe or use my photos, anywhere on the internet, thank you.

**This frosting is sort of beige because of the vanilla extract. If you want the frosting to be  more white in color, you'll need to use clear vanilla, which is always imitation vanilla (since vanilla beans are naturally brown.)

***This recipe can also be used to make a 2 layer 8 or 9 inch cake. Make sure your cake pans are at least 2 inches deep. Grease the pans well, and line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment. The cooking times for cake will be 25-35 minutes.

*** Using greaseproof cupcake liners with these is best, so the bottom doesn't get oily.

Edited to add*** 6/12/2014 - I make these all the time and sometimes I make variations. This time I used vanilla beans in the frosting and I really loved it. To do this, cut open 2 vanilla beans (If they are large only use one) and infuse the milk with them by placing the cut open vanilla beans in the milk for a few hours or overnight kept in an airtight container in the fridge. When you are ready to make the frosting, scrape out the seeds and put them in the milk. Discard the pods, (or dry the pods and add them to sugar for vanilla sugar.) Proceed with making the frosting as usual using less vanilla extract, or none at all, depending on your taste.

Makes about 25 cupcakes

Ingredients for cupcakes

1 1/4 cups (296 ml.) vegetable oil

1 3/4 cups (373 g.) white granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract - If you don't like the taste of almond extract go ahead and omit this, or if you have a nut allergy definitely omit it, you probably don't need to up the vanilla extract since there is a tablespoon of it already

2 1/4 cups (340 g.) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (68 g.) cornstarch

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups (366 g.) full fat sour cream OR full fat yogurt or full fat Greek yogurt

Ingredients for frosting

1 1/2 cups (322 g.) white granulated sugar

3/4 cups (113 g.) all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

2 1/4 cups (532 ml.) whole milk

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) (339 g.) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract (depending on your taste) or 1 Tablespoon vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract, or another flavoring if desired. Once I added a Tablespoon vanilla and 1 tsp butter pecan extract, for example


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 4. Put oven rack on the bottom third of the oven. In my oven I bake these in the second rack from the bottom. (I found that with this recipe when the cupcakes were baked in the upper racks they got too brown for my liking.)

Start by making the base for the frosting. (It needs to cool down before using, this part of the frosting could also be made a day or 2 ahead.) In a large saucepan on medium heat, whisk together the sugar, flour and salt, and slowly add the milk. Cook, whisking frequently, really almost constantly so it doesn't scorch, until it comes to a boil. Once it starts boiling, turn down the heat to medium low, and cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking constantly, this is to cook the flour taste out. Mixture will be very thick. Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Transfer this mixture to another bowl and let cool in the fridge.

Start making the cupcakes.

Line muffin tins with cupcake liners (greaseproof are best) and set aside.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the oil and the sugar. Beat them together for 2 minutes or so, so they are mixed well and the sugar has dissolved somewhat. Add the eggs and both extracts and beat again for another 2 or 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and creamy looking.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat on medium low speed just until it's incorporated, don't over beat. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the sour cream and beat on medium low speed just until the sour cream is mixed in well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and beat again just for about 20 seconds to make sure it's all mixed well.

With a spoon or a scoop, fill the cupcake liners slightly over half full. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Start checking after 17 minutes.)

Cool on a wire rack. When they have cooled enough to handle, remove from muffin tins and let cool on racks. Let cool completely before frosting cupcakes.

While cupcakes are baking finish making the frosting. Make sure the base in the fridge is completely cool. If it's warm at all, it's going to melt the butter. If it's very cold in the fridge it may very firm. Don't worry, it's fine.

In a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter for 2 minutes, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again for another minute or so, until it's nice and light and fluffy. With the mixer going on medium - medium high, gradually add the cooled frosting base, about a "scoop" (a large spoonful) at a time. After each scoop, let it mix until it's fully incorporated. Keep adding and letting it mix together until it's all been used. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another few minutes until it's super light and fluffy. Taste it and see if you think it needs a little more vanilla extract, or you can add another extract or flavoring at this time.

Frost cupcakes. Refrigerate any leftover frosting. If you aren't serving these right away, keep them refrigerated but let them come to room temperature before serving. If you have refrigerated the frosting, you'll need to beat it again before using. The good thing about this frosting is that it doesn't totally harden in the fridge like a typical buttercream does, (since butter solidifies when cold.)

Happy Baking and I hope that you absolutely love this recipe as much as I do!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Killer Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

"Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret."
-Miguel Angel Ruiz

This is a cake I've been making for many years, I can't believe I hadn't blogged abut it sooner. It's really a home run. It's so moist and full of flavor and texture. An awesome cake overall. And who doesn't like bananas and chocolate?  But this isn't the cake I intended to make for today's post.
Mixing together the streusel
I made 2 different carrot cakes. The first cake was good. I made it again to see if I could make it better.  It was good, but not really great. I knew I could do better.

These are my frozen bananas. You can use frozen bananas, just make sure you thaw them first and drain off the liquid.

Then I decided to go in a whole new direction and make this killer cake!

I tell you about my failures for a few reasons. For one, I want you to know that I really care about the recipes I post here. I only post my best recipes. I don't post recipes that are just o.k. or so so. I like to do my best. One of the greatest little books I've ever read is by Don Miguel Ruiz called The Four Agreements. One of those agreements is, always do your best. That one has always been my favorite and resonated with me the most. I don't want you to make one of my recipes and be disappointed because it wasn't everything I promised.  I know you have better things to do with your time and money spent on the ingredients.

Another reason for me sharing my failures, is that even though I'm a decent cook and baker, I still have days where I feel like my baking sucks and I can't seem to get it right. Which is fine, it's just like anything. Even Leonardo DiCaprio didn't get every acting job he went out on when he first started, (it's said that he went on something like 85 auditions before ever getting hired) that's just life. And sometimes we need to carry on with following our dreams and with what makes us happy despite setbacks in the moment.

The cake before adding the streusel

And one more reason for me telling you this? That's why I don't have recipes posted here as often as I probably should. But hey, we're all different and that's what works for me, for now anyway.

Ready for the oven
   So, back to the cake. This is seriously delicious cake.  So good in fact that I felt the need to add the adjective of "Killer" to it's name. It's moist, it's flavorful, it has streusel on top, and it's a great use of leftover bananas. It's good as a coffee cake during brunch, or for a casual dessert any time of day. This cake really rules, it is my best. So I wanted to share it with you.

Hot cake right out of the oven - This cake makes your house smell seriously amazing.
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Killer Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

Recipe by Me, Melissa aka The Alchemist


1 1/2 cups flour (208 g.)

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup (183 g.) chocolate chips

1/2 cup (50 g.) chopped walnuts

1/2 cup (96 g.) sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature

1 egg

1 1/3 cups (336 g.) very ripe and mashed bananas about 4 medium bananas - previously frozen is fine, just make sure you drain the water from them first

1/4 cup (59 ml) yogurt or sour cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

For Streusel Topping

1/4 cup (46 g.) chocolate chips

1/2 cup (78 g.) brown sugar

1/4 cup (24 g.) oats

1/2 cup (69 g.)  flour

1/4 cup (57 g.) (4 Tablespoons) butter, melted

pinch of salt


A few tablespoons of chocolate chips for topping the streusel


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, or Gas Mark 4.

Make the streusel. In a medium bowl mix all of the streusel ingredients together except the butter. Add the melted butter and stir together. Set aside.

Prepare an 8 inch square pan by spraying it with non stick spray, set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts, set aside. Beat together (with an electric mixer or stand mixer) the butter and sugar until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the egg and mix together until incorporated. Beat in the mashed bananas, vanilla extract and yogurt (or sour cream if using.) Add the dry ingredients and stir it in the batter with a spoon until all is incorporated.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle on the streusel topping. Add a few more chocolate chips on top of the streusel, if desired. (I did, just so they would be obvious on top of the cake, so when you see it you know there's chocolate there.) Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 - 65 minutes. Wiggle the cake to check for doneness. If it's still jiggly in the middle, it needs more time. It's done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake on a wire rack. I think it's best served warm. When cool, wrap it well. It should keep a few days. It freezes well. Wrap individual portions in plastic wrap, then place in a zip top bag. Defrost portions at room temperature for an hour or 2. Or microwave a piece for 30 seconds or so for an instant treat from the freezer!

I hope you love this recipe like I do! Happy Baking!