03 July 2009

billy's vanilla cupcakes

You may be wondering who Billy is and why I'm posting about his cupcakes. Or you might know that Billy didn't make this particular batch of cupcakes, but he did create the recipe.

On a Martha Stewart show about cupcakes, one of the recipes she features was from a guy named Billy who owns two bakeries in NYC. What intrigued me about his particular recipe was his method of combining the ingredients, that method being the butter being beat into the dry ingredients before adding the liquid ingredients. What's the difference between this and the traditional creaming method? Cassie from How To Eat A Cupcake explains in this post of hers, which you won't click until you finish reading mine. Summing it up, I call it the "insurance" method because there's less of a chance of ruining the cake by over-mixing the batter since the development of gluten is delayed. Or something.

What brings me back to this recipe whenever the desire strikes for vanilla cupcakes is the velvety, billowy texture of the batter. It's beautiful, really, and even if I didn't care for cupcakes at all and threw away the batter after making it, I'd keep making it just so I can stare at the awesome batter.

I made these for Father's Day. Instead of frosting them with a traditional buttercream (the recipe that's included with the recipe for these cupcakes is especially good, and it's what makes it the second vanilla since these are actually called 'billy's vanilla vanilla', or 'billy's double vanilla cupcakes') I opted for a caramel espresso Italian meringue buttercream. An Italian meringue buttercream involves making a sugar syrup and beating it slowly into the egg whites before beating in the butter. It's really not complicated, though I didn't let the sugar syrup reach the exact temperature stated in the recipe I followed since it started turning into more of a gloppy mixture than a syrup. I don't know anymore. Sigh. Regardless, the end product was alright.

Remembering a tip from Julia Child where she said if you make a mistake, pass it off as intentional since your recipients most likely won't know. What is this saying of your recipients, anyway? Are they that ignorant? Really though, probs what she meant was that most likely whatever the mistake was wasn't that big enough of a deal. UNLESS YOU ARE RUDE AND SERVE THEM SOMETHING TRULY HORRENDOUS AND ATTEMPT TO MESS WITH THEIR MINDS SO THEY FEEL BAD WHEN THEY ASK IF YOU HAD TROUBLE IN THE KITCHEN. Or maybe while the mistake looms large in your mind because you know what it did... Ugh. Would Gordon Ramsay do that, even if it's passable and not truly ruined? In the real world (because Ramsay and his kitchens exist in an alternate universe -- at the end of the universe, even) we don't really have time to remake a wrong. I AM CONFUSING MYSELF.

Moving on.

Wait, I didn't tell you what went wrong with these? I'm not going to. Don't you know what Julia Child has to say on this matter? Gosh.

This is the caffeine-induced result of staying up late and editing pictures for a blog post. I hope you enjoy this as much as my brother and I did.

Topped with edible gold flakes to add pizazz. I hate that word, it's like a person who has trouble spelling tried to spell 'pizza' and added an extra 'z' and it confuses me.

How are these cupcakes? I'm really trying to remember because it's been a while since (SINCE YOU KNOW WHEN!) Father's Day. Pretty much... pretty much I can't put it into words, and I hate that I forgot to take an innards shot, but I think from what I remember is that the crumb is soft, almost melting, and airy while not being open, if that makes sense to any of you.

Recipe after the jump.

billy's vanilla cupcakes
Makes 30 cupcakes

Ingredients ~
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes (this always confuses me since I never knew if it was room temperature butter, or from the fridge butter, but I think I've made them both ways, though once the butter just didn't come to room temp completely, and both times it came out fine)
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
caramel espresso buttercream (scroll down)

Directions ~
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

  2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

  3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

  4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Why would you not serve it at room temperature? I've never once thought of refrigerating cupcakes after frosting so my guests have chilled cupcakes. What does that mean?



  1. awh...I miss my baking class! taking Culinary Arts next semester, let's see how that goes.

    those sugared puffs just went to to the top of my 'to bake' list.

    happy eating.

  2. Good explanation of the butter creaming thing... it sounded all sciency, but I think I got it. And if you made it up... well it fooled me :)

    And hooray for pizazzed gold flaked tops :)

  3. Okay - so these cupcakes - um...they look FANTASTIC!

  4. I hope you can tell me that's not the Jonas brothers.........

    I've only made these once, and while they were very delicious I still make Amy Sedaris' recipe for my vanilla cupcake needs. (But knowing me and my over-excitedness, I probably wrote that these were my new go-to when I posted them on my blog.) I'm gonna hafta go back and try them again, now that I'm more familiar with the reverse-creaming method.


  5. That new creaming method is really unconventional. I hate science, though, so I didn't really understand >.< Hee!
    By the way, I LOVE the way you write, it's hilarious, and so genuine and personable! My first time here, but love you already!

  6. Gluster ~ Cooking classes of any sort sound like a dream, and I'm sure you'll have a great time! Though baking will always remain my favorite =)

    Adam ~ I confuse people enough as it is without purposely trying, lol!

    Darius ~ All sorts of yum, they were.

    Cassie ~ LOL, I remember that post. I want to try the Amy Sedaris cupcakes now.

    Burp and Slurp ~ Aw, thanks so much, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it (and am pleased that what goes on in my head translates into something tangible)!

  7. sounded like it made sense, the part about the butter :) and holy moly that batter looks so smooth and that frosting? fabulous!

  8. The cupcakes look great!


Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your thoughts are appreciated! ^,^


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