The memory is still so vivid, the smell of baking, filling our bungalow, in Daharan, weekend, after weekend. sometimes it was cookies, other times a pie, but the one thing i found myself praying to find in the kitchen each weekend morning as i escalated downstairs, was cupcakes.
As a child, i was quiet spoilt for choice in the world of all-things-baked, my fraternal grandparents owned chickens, you see. And chickens, meant eggs, which led my granny to find ways of utilizing them, hence began this journey in the world of ovens, eggs and butter, vanilla beans, and messy aprons. She used to whisk up the whites into peaks, solely by hand. My father introduced my granny to the hand mixer, after he went abroad to study which was a very treasured tool for her till her last days.
Coming back to the cupcakes, it was the perfect treat really, moist, tender crumb, topped with icing, or a frosted swirl, vanilla filling its scent to each corner of our home. much like that scene from the old Tom and Jerry, in which cooking smells that magically sprout hands, that pull the unsuspecting starving Jerry into the kitchen forcefully! but mostly, a cupcake was all yours, no sharing! no worrying if your sister got a bigger slice.
And so, with the cupcake bar set so very high by my father, and my love for the tiny treats motivating me, i set out to find THE perfect recipe for me, one that made a nice even dozen, that had a tender crumb, that had less or no butter, and would lend itself to all the flavors my crazy bakers mind could think of. it sounded easy on paper, but my search was anything but. I tried recipe after recipe. less butter, more butter, cake flour, all purpose, three eggs, two, buttermilk, sour-cream, pure milk, all came, went, some were just meh, some were total disasters resulting in my mum banishing me from the kitchen.
But for me, the “mehs” were even more of a disaster than the actual blown-up disasters. while everyone else seemed satisfied, i was not. the crumb, the texture, the feeling, was all off.
And then, it happened, i found the one, my one, but not my only certainly, and like an old friend, no matter how many new once i make, i keep returning to this one. I remember the exact moment i realized that i might be on to something, i hysterically called to my then-fiance who was out of the country and declared in quiet a dramatic fashion that THIS is it, i have done it, mission completed, i can now, get married. This was my level of enthusiasm. the only wish the cupcake Genii did not grant, was the even dozen wish, and this recipe makes 13-15 medium sized cupcakes, but you will not mind having these extra once around, pinkie promise.
So now, moving on to this recipe, i hand it over with love, treat it well, and it will treat you better, play with it, but remember to respect the acids, and the leveling agents, and it will not disappoint. the crumb this recipe will produce is quiet even, delicate, not at all greasy, the Cake flour makes it very detectable, and hence, i cannot stress enough the importance of using cake flour instead of all regular or whole wheat. also, please don’t scoop the flour, but use the spoon method to fill the measuring cup and then level it, but never pack it. not tat i have, and not that it resulted in another banishment * awkward cough* also, this recipe uses vegetable oil, and i cannot be happier because firstly, butter is very pricey where i love, and secondly, oil gives such gorgeous tenderness and moisture, you may never wanna go back to butter.
1 1/4 cup Cake flour [ Or, 1 cup all purpose flour+ 1/4 cup cornstarch}
11/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 large eggs
3/4th cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons good quality vanilla essence
1/2 cup vegetable oil [ use any neutral oil, canola or sunflower]
1/2 cup buttermilk
- Shift together all dry ingredients. set aside. preheat oven at 350 degrees
- In your stand mixer whisk together eggs and sugar till foamy, around three mins
- Add in oil and vanilla, mix well for another 3-5 mins
- Alternate adding in half of dry mix, and half of buttermilk, till JUST COMBINED. don’t over mix.
- Divide between 13-15 lined cupcake cups.
- Bake 14-16 mins, till nicely domed and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean