Oh sweet baby Jesus- I do love Septembers. While I enjoy summertime, I sometimes get a little overwhelmed with how chaotic it can get. Weddings, traveling, cookouts. It’s all wonderful stuff, but I find I always welcome the return to routine that the ninth month of the year brings. We are home more on the weekends and football Saturdays seem to make time slow down a little bit.
Another good bonus is that I have more time to bake. I made these particular cupcakes for my friend Jess’s owl-themed baby shower that her husband’s side of the family threw her. I also made pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream, but these were my favorite of the three. The cake has a lighter texture and the addition of real vanilla bean takes the flavor up a notch. The fluffy buttercream frosting is delicious and a perfect pairing with the cake base. I found the idea for the royal icing owl toppers from the fabulously-creative Bridget at Bake at 350. I am always amazed at the magical nature of royal icing and was very pleased with how these babies turned out. They are a much cheaper option than the cupcake-toppers available online and in craft stores.
I will definitely be saving these recipes for future vanilla baking adventures.
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Icing
Yield: About 2 dozen cupcakes
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisktogether the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 mins). Add in the vanilla extract and one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter fully incorporated and smooth, then gradually add in the last of the dry ingredients.
5. Once ingredients are well incorporated, mix the batter for 2 minutes longer to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Using a 2 inch ice cream scoop (or large spoon), distribute the batter evenly, filling each well 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean. Cool on wire rack. Decorate with vanilla buttercream icing as desired (recipe below).
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or ½ pound), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
- 3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted***
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium high speed for a few minutes with a mixer with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer off and gradually add in the powdered sugar (about 1 cup at a time), mixing on low speed after each addition until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 4 tablespoons of cream and beat for 3 minutes. Store in an airtight container or ice cupcakes right away.