Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

As former cupcake princess, I felt it was necessary to make some cupcakes for DESSERT FEST 2010!  So I pulled out my trusty cupcake encylopedias (cupcakes galore and martha stewart cupcakes) and scoured for a yummy recipe.  I saw a Halloween themed cupcake, and, naturally, felt this would be a good fit for DESSERT FEST 2010!, which was falling the week right before Halloween.

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes, borrowed from Martha (well, her book...Martha Stewart Cupcakes)

Yields 36, even if you lick some of the batter
  • 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large whole eggs, plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Makes about 5 cups (or, enough to generously frost the cupcakes above)
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
For the Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line your cupcake tin with paper liners.  Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. 

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in vanilla.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight if they would last that long!

For the Frosting:

Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (if you are like me and don't have a stand mixer, you can just use your hand mixer and it will turn out JUST fine). Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment (again, if you are like me, you only have one hand whisk.  So just use this one and it will do the job), and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

I tinted the buttercream to reflect creepy halloween colors (okay...and I made some pink.  can't help it).  To tint it, I first reserved some plain frosting in case of emergenicies.  Then, I added various shades of gel-paste food color (from that baking store on 22nd street and from gristede's), a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. 

Blend after each addition with the mixer (use a paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is achieved. Don't go too gung ho with adding the food coloring - it could end up darker/not as you imagined.  Better slow and steady win the race.  If necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.

Ending Notes:  This cupcake was a tad bit too dry for me.  Again, not sure if I messed something up (over mixing the batter?) or if the recipe was just not so great, though it seems as though reviews on her website had a similar result.  You know those egg-free cupcakes I make from time to time?  Those were MUCH more moist.  So, we'll cross this one off in the book and go on to try the next one.

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