I know, I know. It’s an awfully twee cupcake. But it has been grey and rainy here in the lonestar state and I wanted something unashamedly cheerful. And I ended up with something that looks a lot like Care-A-Lot (it’s where the Care Bears are from and holy merde I literally only just now got that it’s supposed to be a play on Camelot).
But if it makes you feel any better the icing turned into a few moments of pure rage and at least one batch would have totally gotten me thrown out of the tent had I been on The British Baking Show. I will tell you about that fail in the followup post to this.
I have to insist that if you’re going to do any baking that you get yourself a kitchen scale. Next to a bench scraper it’s about the most useful not-knife thing in the kitchen. There are a few issues that a kitchen scale can help with when baking. First, it’s so much easier to halve or multiply a recipe if you’re using weights (doubly so if using metric measurements).
Second, it’s about keeping the recipe applicable and accurate. Flour is especially notorious for either compacting down or fluffing up. The same cup of flour can vary in weight by ounces depending on how long it’s been sitting in the bowl, how you scooped it, and how humid the day is.
Finally, it can make the washing up easier. Instead of going through sets of measuring cups you can just zero out the scale and add the next ingredient. This is not so much an issue for this particular recipe, but in others it can be helpful.
Read the recipe through and prepare your ingredients ahead of time for this one.
This technique is cribbed from Cook’s Illustrated. I’m not sure why they cut the butter into the flour instead of creaming it as normal, but I really can’t argue with the results.
This cake can be made gluten free by substituting an equal weight of King Arthur Gluten Free Baking Mix. It won’t be as fluffy, but you will still have a lovely, moist cake.
Using just egg whites instead of whole eggs and clear vanilla flavoring will make this cake as white as a unicorn’s hide.
Procs: Two eight-inch rounds or approximately 2 dozen cupcakes
Time: Approximately 45 minutes plus an hour and a half of cool down time before frosting
Challenge Rating: 1 – you have to pay attention to timing and prepare your ingredients ahead of time.
- Stand or Hand Mixer
- Kitchen Scale
- Parchment paper
- 6 Egg Whites at room temperature
- 1 Cup of Whole Milk at room temperature
- 2 Tsp of Clear Vanilla Flavoring
- 1 Tsp of Almond Extract
- 250 grams (2 1/4 Cups) of Cake Flour
- All Purpose will work, but will make a slightly denser cake
- 350 grams (1 3/4 Cups) of Sugar
- 4 Tsp of Baking Powder
- 1 Tsp of Salt
- 12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) of Unsalted Butter at slightly cooler than room temperature
- Set oven to 350F. Prepare the pans by spraying with a nonstick spray. Then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper rounds. Spray the parchment with a coating of the nonstick spray. Dust the pans with flour and invert over the sink and give the bottoms a sharp whack to knock out the excess flour.
- In a bowl combine egg whites, milk, vanilla, and almond flavoring. Whisk until well combined. Set aside 1/2 cup of this mixture.
- In the bowl of the mixer combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix at low speed until well combined.
- Cube the butter and add to the flour mixture. Combine at low speed until the mixture resembles moist bread crumbs and there’s no powder.
- Add the bowl of the milk and egg mixture (don’t forget to hold back the 1/2 cup of the mixture). Mix at medium speed (high if using a hand mixer) for 1.5 minutes.
- Add the reserved 1/2 cup of milk and egg mixture and mix at medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and mix at medium speed for another 30 seconds.
- Pour an even amount into each cake pan and smooth the tops with a spatula.
- Make sure there is plenty of room for air circulation around the pans in the oven. If they are on different racks rotate them halfway through the cook time.
- Bake for 22 – 25 minutes. When a toothpick leaves the cakes clean then they are ready to come out of the oven.
- Cool for 3 minutes in the pan before turning onto a cooling rack. Let cool for 1.5 hours before frosting.