July started on a toasty note here in Missouri, but that didn’t stop us from ringing in Ms. America’s (or Mr.’s; I suppose I shouldn’t be gender specific) 235th birthday in style. Granted, I’d prefer a few snowflakes to go along with my fireworks and hamburgers, but you can’t dog on a great evening filled with fun, family, fireworks and food. Yep, nothing warms my heart like an alliterative holiday.
If I had been a good ahead-of-time kind of thinker, I would have posted these patriotic eats before (or at least on) the actual holiday they’re meant to celebrate. But alas, I didn’t practice such forethought on this occasion, and so I bring you a happy dose of Fourth of July cheer on July the 5th. Better late than never, right?
Actually, I shouldn’t give myself too much of a hard time because these cupcakes are great for any occasion that calls for butter and sugar in the form of something sweet, cute and edible. It’s a knockout recipe, one that I’m sure I’ll be making for years to come because it’s simple enough to whip up without too much trouble but tastes super special in an I-know-this-didn’t-come-from-a-box kind of way. And with something as basic as a white cake and buttercream frosting, the decorating and topping possibilities are pretty much endless. Fresh blueberries and strawberries to ring in the Fourth? Woo hoo! Candy canes at Christmas? No problem! It’s a cupcake for any occasion. Nothing wrong with that.
From Joy of Baking
For the cupcakes:
• 2 eggs
• 1 ¾ cups sifted cake flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
• 1 cup granulated white sugar
• 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ½ cup milk
• 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the frosting:
• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
• ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
While eggs are cold, separate the eggs by placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg yolks one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
In a clean bowl of your electric mixer with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Careful not to over mix!
Evenly fill the 12 muffin cups with the batter, and bake for about 16 to 18 minutes (Note: The original recipe says the cupcakes will brown nicely, but I found that mine were done before they reached that goldeny color. It’s probably best to check them at 16 minutes, and if a toothpick comes out clean but they’re still not browned, pull them out anyway. Better to have moist light cupcakes than dry browned ones.). Remove from oven, and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Wait to spread frosting until cupcakes are cooled completely.
Buttercream Frosting: In an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Add the milk, and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
What did you do for the holiday this year? Backyard barbecue? Night on the town? Tons of food and fun for all? Do tell!