I use both vanilla sugar and vanilla paste rather than just extract in our vanilla cupcakes because I have a serious aversion to bland cupcakes. These really are vanilla cupcakes, not just plain sponge cupcakes masquerading as a vanilla cupcakes.
Vanilla Sugar is a breeze to make at home and in large quantities, one big bag of caster sugar and a couple of vanilla pods will last you ages and make such a difference to your baking. As for vanilla paste, it isn't cheap (especially from supermarkets and I think only Waitrose and larger Tesco branches stock it) but it is so much better than extract and definitely worth it if you're making these for a special occasion. If you do make these using vanilla extract instead of paste add 2 tsp instead of 1.
The buttercream recipe is quite a sweet one, it is lusciously thick and creamy and very adaptable. Add the juice of half a lemon for a gorgeously tangy lemon buttercream that goes beautifully with these vanilla cupcakes. If your buttercream is too stiff or it needs thickening a slightly add milk or icing sugar a tablespoon at a time, beating all the way until you are happy.
Buttercream Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 12 Cupcakes
120g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g caster sugar
20g vanilla sugar
2 large eggs
100g self-raising flour
75g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1tsp vanilla paste
Preheat your oven to 170C. Line a 12-hole cupcake tray with paper cases.
Sift both flours, the baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, caster sugar and vanilla sugar until light and creamy, beat for no less than 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
Add one third of the flour and fold into the batter, pour half of the milk into the batter and beat until totally incorporated. Repeat this process, adding another third of flour, followed by the rest of the milk and vanilla extract. Finish by adding the final third of flour.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, filing each until 2/3 full.
Bake for 20 minutes or until well risen and a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave cupcakes to cool in the tray for a minute or so before removing and placing on a cooling rack.
Buttercream Bakery Vanilla Buttercream
160g unsalted butter, room temperature
225g icing sugar, sifted
2-3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla paste
Place the butter into a large mixing bowl and beat for about 5 minutes or until significantly lighter in colour.
Add the sifted icing sugar and 2 tbsp of the milk and beat until totally incorporated. Add the vanilla paste and beat for a further 5 minutes or until the buttercream becomes lighter in colour and creamy. If necessary add the remaining tbsp of milk and beat for another minute of so.
I hope you like the recipe and enjoy your cupcakes. x