Thursday, August 1, 2013

Brown Sugar Pound Cake Cupcakes & Adventures In Mixing Methods

Dear baking world,

This is my maiden voyage so to speak and it is quite the doozy.

Recently I was exploring the interwebs in search of the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe. I think that every baker, blooming or veteran, needs a quality vanilla cupcake recipe in their arsenal. 

Naturally I am never satisfied and I've spent the last three weeks mixing, tinkering and researching. See, my favorite texture and flavor of vanilla cupcake isn't the usual. I like my cupcakes dense, moist and heavy enough to hold up a huge stack of (preferably) cream cheese frosting. I like my cupcakes with a large crumb (to heck with the fine crumb), big holes and an almost shiny finish. The race was on.

I've combed the far reaches of the web and I've tried vanilla cupcakes from the big ones (by big ones, I mean Martha Stewart and the Cake Boss.) My favorite was the Cake Boss, but I never settle.

Recently, I wondered if my search for a perfect texture wasn't my ingredients but rather the way I was mixing them. To my dismay there was barely anything on the Internet about mixing methods. So I fired up the oven and found a recipe and here are the results.

Also, please don't judge my iPhone pictures. I am a poor college student but I'm working on rustling up a decent camera to post decent pictures.

The Recipe

Brown Sugar Pound Cake Cupcakes
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
Yield: 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup, 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, at room temperature
6 Tbsp. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 

Mixing Method 1
Creaming Method

This is the classic mixing method. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the dry ingredients, alternating between the milk and ending with the flour. 

Put in cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes.

As typical to the creaming method, the crumb was extremely fine. It wasn't what I was looking for, but I liked how it was a little more dense than a regular cupcake, being a pound cake cupcake and all. They did also have a slight cornbready flavor.

Mixing Method 2:
The Muffin Method

Melt the butter. Whisk all the wet ingredients together including the eggs and oil and melted butter. Whisk the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir with a spatula until just moistened. Place in tins and bake immediately as set forth in the recipe. 

Put in cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes.

The cupcakes have a lovely heavy crumb, and large holes and everything I wanted. The muffin method really brought out the brown sugar flavor, which the creaming method did not. As is usual for the muffin method, the cupcakes were a tad crumbly. However, they did not taste like cornbread in the least. I ran around the kitchen screaming when I tasted these. Delicious.

Mixing Method 3
The "One Bowl"/Old Fashioned/Reverse Method

Note: This method is what Buddy Valastro's Vanilla cake uses. It's my favorite plain vanilla cupcake. It cooks up beautifully domed and when you pull it apart to eat it, it resists just a little and then pulls apart into a beautiful, soft, flavorful vanilla cupcake.

Put flour, sugar, baking powder, oil and salt into a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment. Mix on slow until a coarse, sandy mixture. Cube the butter (make sure it's at room temperature) and add a few cubes at a time, still on slow. Stop and scrape the sides. Add each egg on slow until well blended. Then add the milk, on medium. Mix until incorporated but don't over mix. 

Put in cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes.

My oh my! This mixing method made a really moist, dense, delicious cupcake. The caramel flavor that is unique to this brown sugar cupcake shone through. They baked up with the most delightful top, far more domed than the other two. It didn't have as large of a crumb, but it captured the pound cake texture the best out of the three methods. It was incredible and super moist. Look at how moist they are! 

The Verdict

My lovely taste testers (my sisters and dad) like the reverse method the best. They all thought it brought out the true pound cake flavor. They did, however, gobble down the muffin method cupcakes. 

As for me, it's still up in the air. I love the reverse creaming method but I love the texture of the muffin method. If you like a more crumbly cupcake, go for the muffin method. If you want the recipe to bake as true to the recipe as possible, use the reverse method. 

Update: My mom preferred the old-fashioned mixing method, so I would suggest that one. Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment