Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

These vanilla cupcakes are one of my all time favourite cupcakes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of plain old vanilla, and these cupcakes are always a winner! You can double the mixture and make this into a great 3 layer cake, but for now, let’s just concentrate on the cupcakes. Also, it may be worth mentioning at this point that if you cannot get vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract will work just as fine. But no to vanilla essence.  This is a manufactured ‘taste’ that will not stay in the cakes while baking.

I have decorated these particular ones with a buttercream using a butterknife, simply to show you how easy this is, and that sometimes, you do not need all the fancy equipment. But if you would like to decorate these with a piping nozzle, you use the exact same quantity of buttercream. You can also decorate with sprinkles, grate chocolate over them, or decorate exactly how you wish. As it is Christmas, I thought making little festive wreaths would be cute. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
120g unsalted butter, softened
120g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
120g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk

For the buttercream
150g unsallted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
300g icing sugar
2-3 tbsp milk

So, to start line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases, or baking cups on a baking tray and preheat your oven to 180C, 160C fan, or Gas Mark 4.

In a bowl, cream together your butter and sugar, for a few minutes, until this becomes light and fluffy.Now add your eggs with a spoonful of flour until this all combines, and once you have done that you can add the vanilla, the rest of the flour and baking powder, followed by the milk, until you get a smooth and silky cake mix, with gorgeous flecks of vanilla running through it.

Divide your mixture into your cupcake cases or baking cups and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the sponges spring back when lightly pressed.

Once these are cooked, allow to cool on a cooling rack and get to making your buttercream.

To start with your buttercream, beat (with an electric whisk or freestanding whisk) your softened butter for a good five minutes. My top tip is to use the best butter your budget allows, and beat this until it goes very pale. If you do this, your buttercream will be lovely and white. Now, add your vanilla bean paste and icing sugar, a spoonful at a time, until this is all combined, and then if this is too thick, add your milk, a spoonful at a time until you get the right consistency, which is not too stiff. If you are colouring your buttercream, do this now.

Now to ice your cupcakes. I used a butter knife, and basically blobbed buttercream and then smoothed out with the knife, but you can pipe or plop your buttercream to your hearts content!

Now decorate with sprinkles, or leave plain, and serve!

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