Ah cupcakes! Everyone’s favorite dessert to make. It’s so sweet, delicious, and delicate, but quite easy to make. The most important part of a cupcake that makes it too good to eat is the frosting on top. And that uses a lot of butter. Not just on the frosting but the cupcake itself.
For the perfect frosting, we need to cream the butter and sugar. Which means you have to beat the butter and sugar together until it becomes light, fluffy and pale in color. Adding fat like oil, lard or butter in a batter or dough mixture helps in making the baked good increase in volume during baking by trapping the water in the mixture and stabilizing the gas bubbles. Creaming helps in adding more air and volume in the baked good.
It’s important to use butter that is soft but still maintains its structure. Butter that’s too cold won’t capture much air, while butter that’s too melted will no be able to hold the air for long. Also, creaming should be done at the right time. A moderate speed typically 3 – 4 on a stand mixer for about 2 to 3 minutes is just the right amount to make your butter perfectly airy, soft and fluffy.
Fat could be in a form of oil, butter or lard. The fat helps soften the dough by weakening the gluten network. It traps the water in the dough and stabilizes the gas bubbles, which helps in making the loaf increase in volume during baking. Butter is an emulsion, or a mixture of two substances that don’t want to stick together, which is water and fat along with some dairy solids, that hold them together.
In the oven, fats in the dough or batter begin to melt around 90 °– 130 °F (30 °– 55 °C). This process also contributes to the leavening process. Trapped air and water escape from the fat as it melts. As it heats up, water evaporates and turns into steam; this expands and pushes against the cell wall. The later the fat melts, the more the dough or batter rises because the gases try to escape at the same time the cell wall has already harden.
Well all know what this means, it’s time to make some cupcakes! Let’s first prepare our most important equipment, which is a stand mixer. Yes, it is quite an expensive gadget to have in your kitchen, but this is a must for perfectly soft, airy, and fluffy buttercream frosting. Another essential equipment would be your standard sized muffin tray. You can use the mini muffin tray if you plan on making mini cupcakes, but for this recipe, we’ll be making regular cupcakes. You’ll also need cupcake liners. You can get the plain ones the at the grocery store, or fancier looking ones at your nearest bakeshop. For decorating, you make use a piping bag for swirling the frosting or a baking spatula. Now let’s get started!
For this recipe, we’ll need:
- 100g or half a block of butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
And for the frosting, we’ll need:
- 200g or one whole block of butter, softened
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
And of course, if you want your cupcakes to look as beautiful as they taste, you’ll need food coloring and cupcakes decorations!
- We begin by preheating the oven to 350 F / 180 C
- Take your muffin tray and line it with cupcake liners
- Add your 100g softened butter and white sugar into a medium sized bowl
- Using a whisk, cream or mix the butter and sugar together until it’s fluffy and pale in color
- Now add your eggs one at a time, stirring in between
- After that, add in the flour and milk alternatively and mix until combined
- Finally, stir in the salt and baking powder
Your cupcake batter is finished! Now it’s time to pour the batter into the cupcake liners. You can use a spoon or if you want an even amount of batter for each cupcake, you can use an ice cream scoop. After you have poured everything, put the muffin tray in the oven and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes.
While that’s waiting, take out your standing mixer and let’s make the frosting!
- Add your 200g softened butter into the stand mixer bowl
- Put the whisk attachment and set your mixer on 2 – 3, moderate speed
- Beat the butter until the color has become very pale
- Gradually add your icing sugar and set the mixer on a higher speed, around 3 – 4 on the stand mixer
- If you want to have more flavor in the frosting, you may add about 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Then add your 1 tablespoon of milk. Mix until the frosting is light, fluffy and airy
When your cupcakes are finished, let it cool completely. Transfer the frosting into a bowl and add food coloring. Once the color has been incorporated, place them inside a piping bag. You may also use a spatula for decorating if you wish. Finally, add your cupcake jewels! What are you waiting for? Have a cupcake, or two, or three because you deserve it!