I've been on the search for the best vanilla and chocolate cupcake recipes for the past two years. I feel like I have to get these basic recipes right before I can get creative with other flavors. I've already found a favorite chocolate recipe from the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but vanilla has been much more difficult. I've tried recipes from Magnolia Bakery, Billy's Bakery and Martha Stewart, but they all seemed to be lacking the flavor and texture that I expect in a cake.
While browsing the cooking section of my favorite bookstore, the Green Apple, I stumbled upon a cupcake book that I had not heard of yet. I flipped through it and thought "Do I really need another one?". Thankfully, I had already been wanting to make lemon cupcakes for the Flavor of the Month carnival over at Bake at 350, but I knew I didn't have any good cupcake recipes. So $5.00 later (I know, can you believe that sale price!), I had yet another cupcake book to add to my collection.
I decided on making the buttermilk cupcakes. The Flavor of the Month for August was lemon, so I added some lemon zest to the batter and a lemon glaze on top. This recipe was quite different then the others I tried in that it had more butter, more sugar, and more eggs. The end result was totally not what I was expecting...they were DELICIOUS!! I can't stop thinking about how great they were. Finally, I have found my go to vanilla cupcake recipe-HOORAY!!
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
zest of one lemon (optional)
Preheat oven 350°F. Line 24 cupcake tins with baking papers. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, lemon zest, and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir the vanilla. Alternating add the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour.
Fill each baking cup 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Lemon Glaze Icing: whisk 2 cups powdered sugar with 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice or more if needed for pourable consistency.