(WWTI) – Don’t let anyone fool you; vanilla is anything but plain, today is National Vanilla Cupcake Day.
Cupcakes made their first written appearance in the first cookbook to be written by an American. In 1796, Amelia Simmons titled her book American Cookery and featured novel, individual-sized cakes. Although, cupcakes weren’t called cupcakes until about 1828, before muffin tins were more widely available, people used to bake cupcakes in a bunch of different things – ceramic cups, ramekins, vases… the list goes on.
Vanilla on the other hand, is from the Aztec Empire where the Totonac people first cultivated the vanilla bean around the 15th century. Vanilla actually comes from Orchids, specifically the Vanilla Orchid, Vanilla planifolia. All of this is very interesting; however, vanilla is quite expensive and so is more likely to be synthetically produced from wood waste.
You are sure to have heard the beaver rumor about vanilla too; the FDA allows castoreum, the substance obtained from beavers, to be labeled as natural flavoring because it’s natural. Castoreum; however, is rather expensive too and not a lot of it is sold per year. The chances of you ever consuming castoreum are quite low, it’s more likely to be used in perfume. So, eat those vanilla cupcakes with some gusto.
- 1 and 3/4 cups cake flour (spooned & leveled)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean
- 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream at room temperature
- 1/2 cup whole milk at room temperature
- Vanilla buttercream and sprinkles for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners—this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.
- Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and combined, at least 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed and then beat in the sour cream. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until combined. Do not over-mix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners—fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 19–22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30–36 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11–13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
- Frost cooled cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. You can swipe the frosting on with an icing knife or use a piping tip such as Wilton 1M. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Happy National Vanilla Cupcake Day!