Springtime Cupcakes

springtime cupcakesButtercream frosting requires simple ingredients, but it takes some time to achieve the perfect texture and flavor. I’ve been working on buttercream for years now, and I think I’ve found the perfect recipe, especially for cupcakes. My buttercream requires both vanilla and almond extracts, which I think gives the best flavor. It also requires patience; each step takes a few minutes, and you can’t rush it, or you won’t get a nice, fluffy texture.

These springtime cupcakes were a big hit in the office for St. Patrick’s Day today, and they would also make a great addition to an Easter brunch, a baby shower, or Mother’s Day tea. This recipe would be great any time of year, though.

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sour milk*

Basic Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • Dash of salt
  • 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • Green food coloring

*To make sour milk, place 1/2 tablespoon vinegar in a glass measuring cup; add enough milk to equal 1/2 cup total. Stir; set aside for 5 minutes before using.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with paper liners; this recipe makes 21 cupcakes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Place eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat for another 30 seconds.

Add vanilla and canola oil and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.

Add flour mixture and sour milk alternatively in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Batter will be very thin.

Using a quarter-cup measuring cup, scoop batter into prepared regular-sized cupcake liners, filling half full.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately remove cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

To make the buttercream, place butter in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down your bowl, add salt, and beat for another minute.

Scrape down your bowl, then add powdered sugar all at once; cover your mixer with a kitchen towel, and beat on low speed until the sugar is completely incorporated into the butter – this will take several minutes, probably about 4-5.

Once all the sugar is incorporated, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add extracts, and beat on low speed for about 1 minute, then increase the speed to medium and beat for another 2-3 minutes until the texture is light and fluffy.

Add green food coloring a few drops at a time to create a light, spring green shade.

Fit a 14-inch pastry bag with a Wilton 1M tip and pipe generous swirls of frosting onto cupcakes. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days for optimal freshness.

Note: this buttercream recipe will frost at least 24 cupcakes, as long as you don’t go too overboard with your piping.

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