I wanted a classic, old fashioned cupcake recipe – nothing fancy or over-the-top; and with all this talk of Paula Deen (and her quabble with Anthony Bourdain), thought she’d have just the thing. I found a plain but exceedingly good moist vanilla cake with buttercream – the kind of basic cupcake a grandma might make. There’s nothing wrong with high-end salted caramel and espresso cupcakes (quite the contrary, in fact), but I was yearning for comfort cake. I found it.
Of course a basic recipe like this is completely customizable – try adding lemon or orange zest to the batter, or different extracts (such as maple or coconut); to tint the frosting, add food coloring to the milk before adding it.
If you don’t want to spread your frosting with a knife, but don’t have an icing bag, spoon the frosting into a heavy duty ziplock baggie, seal and snip a corner off with scissors; squeeze the frosting out onto the cupcakes. You’ll get a nice, smooth, thick swirl.
Paula Deen’s Old-Fashioned Cupcakes
adapted from Paula Deen
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, cut into cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.
In a large bowl combine both flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the cubed butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until combined. Slowly add the milk and vanilla to batter and beat until completely blended, scraping down the bowl as you go.
Spoon the batter into baking cups, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch.
To make the frosting: beat butter until smooth and fluffy; add 4 cups sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat with paddle attachment until smooth, gradually adding the rest of the sugar until you have something with a frosting consistency. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them. (If you like, fill a shallow dish with sprinkles and dip the cupcakes in, icing first.)
Photo credit: istockphoto.com/pinkcandy