Last night I baked my second attempt at creamsicle cupcakes. The reason this particular cupcake needed revising goes back to my original recipe (all I’ll share is that it’s a vanilla buttermilk cupcake recipe developed and created by Bethany and myself). Initially the cupcakes were great, but they had flat tops (which bothered me quite a bit), and the cupcake liners weren’t releasing cleanly. So I decided to revise our recipe to make the cupcake stronger, and give it that classic, rounded crown. I tried everything from adding eggs, increasing baking powder, and even using AP flour, but the best scenario resulted in a vanilla-flavored muffin and the worst scenario resulted in a completely deflated cupcake. After reading through “The Best Recipe” by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated with my mother, she suggested that I cut back on the buttermilk and eliminate the baking soda (which was minimal, but by my logic acted with the acidic buttermilk to create fluff). Turns out mother knows best, because the tweak worked wonders! Studying my recipe revealed that it was creating too much fluff, which essentially popped the cupcake, leaving them deflated. I also did the math to determine that the perfect ratio of wet ingredients to dry ingredients is 1:1.86. So if you’re having trouble with your recipe, break your ingredients down into dry(flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, etc) and wet ingredients (eggs, butter, buttermilk/milk, oil, vanilla, flavorings, etc) then break their measurements down into common measurements (mine was teaspoons) and divide the dry by the wet and that’s your ratio. Obviously there is a safe range, but it’s not very big – my recipe that kept failing was 1:1.6 – the difference of half a cup of buttermilk/24 cupcakes (or 1 tsp per cupcake).
Also, I have since adopted the 2-stage mixing method. Not only is it significantly faster than the creaming method, but the texture of the cakes is FAR superior to those made with the creaming method. For those unfamiliar with the two stage method, it’s definitely worth trying. First you mix all your dry ingredients in your stand mixer’s bowl (sift them together. ALWAYS sift dry ingredients. Always!), and in a separate bowl mix together your eggs, milk/buttermilk, oil, flavorings, etc (not the butter, though). Everything I’ve read has said to use room temperature ingredients…not only does that disgust me to think about room temperature eggs and buttermilk, but I’ve tried it with cold ingredients, and with room temperature ingredients and it makes absolutely no difference in the final product. The only thing that needs to be room temperature is the butter, because cold butter doesn’t incorporate at all. Anyway, once your dry and wet ingredients have been mixed in their own separate bowls, add your super soft butter to the flour, along with half of the wet ingredients. Mix on medium-low speed until it combines, then add half of the remaining wet ingredients, mix for a couple seconds, and add the rest. Scrape the bowl and mix for a few more seconds just to combine. DO NOT OVERMIX. Overmixing kills cupcakes. The batter may be lumpy, but that’s ok. Scoop it into your lined cupcake tins and bake. If you want to know what heaven feels like in your mouth, the 2-stage method is a good way to find out 😀
So now our cupcakes are fluffy, and tasty, and velvety! A triple threat! I wish you guys could taste…or even smell…these cupcakes! They taste exactly like a creamsicle – which is what we aim for 🙂