Monday, 9 April 2012

Vanilla and Raspberry Jam Cupcakes with Pink Buttercream Roses

One day, one glorious beautiful fine day I will bake the perfect cupcake...again. 2 years ago I managed it. The most perfect, moist, light and fluffy cupcakes and not just one but 40 of them! I baked them for Monsieur Squirrel's brother's wedding. I used the infamous Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcake recipe and the bad boys that came out of the oven were perfect. They were perfect in height, perfectly cooked and the taste, oh the taste. Light, fluffy, moist and vanillary (yeah that is a word).

Check out my measuring matroyshka nesting
 doll cups. They are my best friends when I'm baking.

We moved out of that house a couple of months later. I wish I'd baked so many more cupcakes in that oven because since then I haven't baked one perfect cupcake. NOT ONE. And it hurts. Oh it hurts. It haunts my dreams. I feel like every cupcake I see mocks me; and boy are they cruel.

Just out of the oven...before they sunk.

Why does my favourite hummingbird recipe not work anymore? (I have whined this to Monsieur Squirrel a lot; it is not a pleasant sound). So far I've tried the hummingbird recipe 4 bluming times using our current oven. Each time they shrink and are chewy. When they failed the first time, I thought it was because the ingredients hadn't been at room temperature. The second time; because I used the oven fan. The third; I hadn't filled the liners properly. The forth; I just blamed the oven and searched for a new recipe.

Filled with raspberry jam.

The next vanilla cupcake recipe I used worked ok; they were too dense but at least they rose.

Icing! Monsieur said my icing looked like MRM (mechanically recovered meat?!). Always the charmer!

On Saturday I decided to try the ultimate vanilla cupcake recipe. This recipe has been tested by 50 bakers (and I'm sure a lot more have tested it by now too).

Not looking too shabby (but a little bit, dare I say it,like lady parts?)

The recipe: Taken from the cupcake 

Makes around 12 - 16 cupcakes 

  • 1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar 
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cups (175 grams) plain flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) full-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil (60 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon pure (not imitation) vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean. 
  3. Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
  6. Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. You should end up with a very fine crumb texture.
  7. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  8. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
  9. Slowly add milk and mix on a low speed until just combined. The batter will be quite liquidy.  
  10. Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
  11. Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. These cupcakes shouldn't turn a golden brown.  If they aren't done, test again in two minutes.  If they still aren't done, test again in another two minutes.
  12. When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack to cool.
Note: I didn't use a vanilla bean in mine; if you can't afford it, just use a tiny bit more vanilla essence

So this is when I did my own recipe thang and added raspberry jam:

1. Once the cupcakes have cooled make a cavity in the middle of the cupcake using a teaspoon. Try to do this in one movement, so you have a whole tiny piece of cake that you have removed (set aside).
2. Insert half a tea-spoons worth of raspberry jam into the cavity.
3. Take the cake you've removed and place it back into the cupcake, covering the raspberry jam.

(Another way to do this is using a fine nozzle; place the raspberry jam into a decorating bag and insert the nozzle into the centre of the cupcake and squeeze gently)


I used the Hummingbird Bakery's vanilla buttercream icing recipe and added 4 drops of pink food colouring. I then used the Wilton 2D icing nozzle and a disposable decorating bag to make the rose detail. Squeeze the icing from the centre of the cupcake outwards (angling the nozzle tip inwards)in a spiral pattern. 

I will discuss icing techniques a bit more in my next cupcake inspired post!

Pink Vanilla Buttercream Icing Recipe:

500g icing sugar
160g unsalted butter softened
50ml whole milk
Half tsp of vanilla essence
4 drops of pink food colouring

The verdict: Not quite ultimate but alright.

These taste amazing, and I thought they looked great but they are too moist and dense. Also they didn't rise; if anyone has a solution for non-rising cupcakes (a cupcake viagra so to speak) I am all ears. I'm just going to blame my oven again and purchase an oven thermometer!! The hunt continues for the perfect cupcake....

Madame Squirrel.


  1. these look divine... really wanna try them, like now lol! :Dx

  2. They look fab! I have a similar issue as the oven in my old flat was great. It took me a long time to learn how to use our current one properly! But I have found if I use slightly different ingredients (like a different make of flour) I get different results! Shouldn't happen but it does! :/

  3. Oh man. This post has me literally salivating. You are being too hard on yourself, they look wonderful! x

  4. These look amazing! It can be so annoying when you do everything right and the cakes still go wrong! The only thing I can suggest is replacing your flour & baking powder in case they are bad or something, good luck! xx