My next contestant were the “Classic Butter Cupcakes” from The Atlantic Monthly, an article from February 2009. How that recipe had managed to stay hidden in my cupcake cookbook for nearly 3 years, I can’t explain. In any case, this one stood out first for it’s use of cake flour instead of all purpose. More importantly, I saw a trick in here that I learned from Clinton Street Baking Company. The recipe called for 4 egg whites whipped with 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar that then get folded into the batter. (CSB uses this method in their award-winning pancakes, which is what gives them their signature fluffiness.)
Once again, I substituted soy milk for the whole milk, but otherwise, followed the recipe. Interestingly, it called for almond extract in addition to vanilla, a secret ingredient I often include in my baked goods just to add a special little something that people typically can’t quite put their finger on, but really like.
And the verdict…these were definitely more complicated to make than Kim’s, and they made more dirty dishes, which without a dishwasher is a pain, but they tasted much, much better. They were light, fluffy, and moist. They have a pretty light brown top and hold up well to chocolate buttercream. The big downside is that they have to be baked right away and they don’t keep very long. Again, I only baked 6 and froze the rest of the batter. I’m curious to see what happens when I try to defrost and bake a second batch. I’m guessing they will be less fluffy, but I’m not sure what other changes to expect. So far, I’d say this is the best vanilla cake recipe I’ve tried, but I’m not in love with it. I’m not sure if that means there is still a better one out there or if I have to accept that I’m just not crazy about the texture of vanilla cake. We’re going to take a break from the vanilla and move on to chocolate next. (Though I’m hearing rumblings that there may be a sojourn into the land of popovers before we head into the next batches of cake after a delicious appetizer at Buttermilk Channel.)