Like most children, I always looked forward to my birthday in school. Not because I usually got it off since it falls near a national holiday, no...because my parents always used to make me from-scratch cupcakes to share with the class. Honestly, I did not even know cake came from a box until I went to a sleepover when I was nine-years-old. I suppose that might be why I love them even more now than I once did...because I remember not only the taste of the batter licked from the bowls, but the love that went into them. Now, as a mother, I strive to ensure my son has the same experience and love of all things made from scratch.
I believe another reason I love them so much is because cupcakes have such potential to create as simple, or complex, a flavor as your heart desires. And while I plan on chronicling all the different flavors I come across and attempt, I want to start with a classic: Plain Jane.
There is something about this vanilla cake that I enjoy. It is reminiscent of childhood, when the only choices you had for cake seemed to be chocolate or vanilla, it is familiar, safe. However, do not think that this cupcake is anything, but plain...it has subtle hints of vanilla, almond, brown sugar, and butter(though this recipe contains none). Since it has such round flavors, it could be paired with virtually any frosting flavor, though for this particular one I used vanilla swiss meringue butter cream. They are sure to please a crowd; whether they be chocolate or vanilla fans.
PLAIN JANE CUPCAKES:
(Recipe adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop. Makes about 12 cupcakes)
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/8 cup light brown sugar
- 3/8 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Beat oil and sugars on high until incorporates, about 30 seconds.
- Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds after each.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
- Measure out both the skim milk and sweetened condensed milk in a measuring cup along with the vanilla and almond extract, mix together.
- Add about a fourth of the flour to the oil/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
- Add about one third the milk/vanilla/almond mixture and beat until combined.
- Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
- Fill cupcake liners 1/2 to 2/3 full (I usually do slightly more than 1/2 full, but less than 2/3 full since these cupcakes tend to rise quite a bit.)
- Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.