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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The One: Yellow Cupcakes and Chocolate Buttercream

After my disastrous attempt at making red velvet cupcakes last weekend my craving for cupcakes was still around. I needed to get back on that horse and try, try again! I am fully aware that there is a red velvet curse on me, so I decided to go back to the basics and try a simple yellow cake and chocolate frosting combo. I have been forever looking for a yellow cake and chocolate buttercream recipe that is "the one". The recipes needed to be easy and straightforward, nothing too fussy or complicated. They needed to be reliable and trustworthy, something I could depend on each and every time I made them. I needed some stability to my ever-rotating recipe list, and I think I have finally found them. These are just that - simple and delicious, but not boring or flat. 

Betty Crocker eat your heart out.

I did a little searchin' around my favorite blogs to find these recipes, and in the end I had a little mix and match from Smitten Kitchen and Joy the Baker

The yellow cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen is rich and delicious - the perfect vanilla cake. It is light but solid and has a perfect crumb. It would be wonderful with any number of fillings and frostings. And really, to me at least, that is the definition of a go-to cake. Easily adaptable for any type of occasion and perfectly wonderful all on its own.

The chocolate frosting from Joy the Baker is hands-down one of the best chocolate frostings I have ever had. Its not too sugary and the chocolate is not too rich. It is pretty thick but tastes light on your tongue. The real kicker here is the addition of Ovaltine - stay with me, I promise it's worth it - yes, Ovaltine.  The malted chocolate adds another layer to this frosting, a little something extra that you can't quite put your finger on.

"the one" Yellow Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Makes two 9" cakes or 24 cupcakes. This cake is a great base for endless combinations of fillings and frostings. So easy to make your own, go on and experiment!

4 cups + 2 tblsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla (go on, use the good stuff!)
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well shaken

- Preheat the oven to 350*F. Grease cake pans or line muffin tin with liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl.  In a separate large bowl beat together the butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add vanilla then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

- Turn the electric mixer to slow and beat in buttermilk until just combined. If the mixture looks curdled thats ok, I promise it will get better.  Add in the flour mixture in three parts, mixing just to combine after each addition.

- To make cakes: spread the batter into your greased pans and tap against the counter a couple of times to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.

- To make cupcakes: Fill the cupcake liners until two-thirds full and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way through the cooking time to ensure even baking. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted to the middle of the cupcakes. Cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

- Cool cakes/cupcakes thoroughly before frosting.

"the one" Chocolate Buttercream
Adapted from Joy the Baker. This recipe makes enough frosting for a 9" layer cake or 24 cupcakes (see above recipe - do it!!)

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted (go on, take the extra step, it makes the frosting super light and smooth)
1 tsp vanilla extract (go on, use the good stuff!)
2 tblsp milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Ovaltine

- Cream together the butter, cocoa powder and salt. It might taken them a few minutes to come together and then the mixture will be thick. Add the powdered sugar and turn the mixer on low. While the powdered sugar is being mixed in add the milk and vanilla extract, scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once all of the sugar is incorporated turn the mixer up to medium and beat the frosting to make it light and fluffy.

- In a separate bowl mix together the heavy cream and Ovaltine. Slowly pour the mixture into the frosting until you reach your desired consistency. You might night need all of the mix, although I did.

- Try not to eat all of the frosting before frosting your cake/cupcakes. It will take will power but I know you can do it. Also, try not to make this at night as I did - otherwise you will stay awake all night from a sugar rush and resisting the urge to get out of bed and eat more frosting.


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