I’ve been searching for my ideal basic butter cake (as in plain, vanilla, yellow), and cupcakes are going along for the ride. Today’s project was a huge step in the right direction, but it wasn’t without an initial batch that bombed.
The first recipe I made today was the Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe from Woodland Bakery Blog. Since I bake with flour I mill at home (soft white wheat, in this case), I wasn’t sure if the recipe would work for me. Turns out, it doesn’t. But I’m glad I tried because it pushed me to try something I’ve been curious about in light of the many cake recipes that left me with poor texture. Several recipes where I replaced all purpose or cake flour with my home-milled flour left me with a greasy, open, airy-yet-heavy, crumbly texture, rather than a spongy, cohesive texture.
Last year, before I bought my grain mill, I made a vanilla cupcake recipe with whole wheat flour from Great Harvest Bread Co., where they mill their own flour. It was a test run to see what it might be like to bake with this type of flour. And I was very happy with the results — both with the recipe, and the flour. As I thought back to that success, it was clear that trying that recipe again would be a smart move, since it already worked well once.
One of the problems I had with the Woodland cupcake recipe was that the tops fell off of many of the cupcakes as I removed them from the pan. They were just too delicate, and I thought the small size might be contributing to the problem. So for my next batch with a different recipe, I knew one of the things I wanted to adjust was the leavener. A shorter, firmer cupcake would be better at this size. I also wanted to use way less sugar — as I taste-tested the first cupcakes, I noticed a lingering sugar film in my mouth that I didn’t like. I also wanted to thicken the batter by changing the ratio of liquid to flour.
Using the Perfect Vanilla Cupcake recipe I remembered liking as a starting place, I made all sorts of adjustments to the formula that I hoped would help and crossed my fingers.
These little cupcakes have a beautiful dome (as opposed to falling in the center as has been happening to me a lot), a nice firm texture (great for the small size), great vanilla flavor, and you wouldn’t guess they’re whole wheat flour. With baking experimentation, you win some and you lose some. This recipe is a win in my book. Not sure how they’d convert to regular-sized cupcakes or layer cakes — a bit more leavener might be necessary.
They’re going into the freezer for now, and soon will be frosted with something…perhaps a gingerbread-type buttercream for the holidays.
Whole Wheat Vanilla Mini Cupcakes
Makes 24 mini cupcakes
- 228 gm freshly-milled soft white wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (113 gm) unsalted butter
- 145 gm granulated white sugar
- 3 eggs, room temp
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 vanilla bean pod (with seeds)
- 90 gm whole milk, room temp
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line mini muffin pan with liners.
- In a small pan, melt the butter with the scrapings from the vanilla bean pod, and the pod itself. Once it’s all melted and stirred together, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a stand mixer, beat together the butter/vanilla seed mixture and the sugar until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Then mix in the vanilla extract.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix, then half of the milk, then the second 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour. Mix until smooth, just 15 or so seconds.
- Fill liners just over half full (1 scoop using a medium cookie scoop worked perfectly for me). Bake for 15-20 minutes. The probably won’t brown at all, so visual appearance isn’t a test for doneness. The toothpick and finger-poke tests are better.