Perfect Whipped Buttercream Cupcakes

  • For the sponge cakes
  • 200g softened butter, salted or unsalted to taste
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
  • 2 tsp good-quality vanilla extract
  • 4 free-range eggs (preferably organic), beaten lightly
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • For the vanilla frosting
  • 200g softened unsalted butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 1 vanilla pod (seeds scraped out)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Try other flavour variations, add 100g of fresh pureed strawberries for a summery hit, some good quality lemon curd to taste for a lemon tea time treat or gently stir in 50g of cooled melted Belgian chocolate.

Preheat your oven to 180°C (fan, conventional 200°C) and line your tin/s with the cupcake or muffin case.

Place your butter, sugar, vanilla seeds into the mixing bowl and incorporate together, then once combined turn up the mixer to a fast speed for a couple of minutes to cream the butter and sugar until pale, white and fluffy. If you are using a wooden spoon and bowl you'll need a lot of elbow grease and may take longer. Add the extract and beat again til combined.

Now gradually add your beaten egg, slowly mixing about an eggs worth at a time, mixing on slow or beating lightly. Don't worry if it looks curdled, it will come together in a moment.

Add your flour in increments of 3 or 4 gently folding in with a metal spoon until just mixed or on slow until the powdery flour has all been incorporated.

Spoon into your cases; fill just over half way so they have room to rise nicely.

Pop in the oven and bake until cooked through. Check after 10 mins, test with a sharp knife or skewer (you'll know they are cooked when this comes out clean from the center).

Once cooked they will be golden and springy to the touch, take out from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. They will be ready to top as soon as they reach room temperature, so 30 minutes to an hour or so.

For the topping:

In your electric mixer (or with your wooden spoon and a bit more muscle!) beat the butter, vanilla seeds and extract until creamy for a minute or so.

Add about half the icing sugar and mix slowly until combined 9on fast it will puff up in a sugary cloud and mess up your kitchen and your clothes!) Then beat until white and fluffy.

Repeat with the rest of the icing sugar; make sure its smooth, pale and creamy. No need to sieve the sugar it’s all going to mix in well.

Beat in your room temperature cream cheese until combined on a slow mix. This will add a slight hidden savory depth and keep the frosting softer for longer.

Pop you’re frosting into the piping bag, you can use a fancy star nozzle if you like or simply snip a round hole in the bag to pipe out your frosting. Pipe on to the top of your cake in a clockwise or anti clockwise motion, which ever feels more comfortable, from the outside towards the center and finish with an ice cream style whippy peak in the center.

TOP TIP! If you are new to piping, have a go on the work top or on a bit of greaseproof paper first to get the feel for it before toping your cakes!

Finally finish with the topping of your choice. There's a huge array of sprinkles and toppings, sugary shapes and fresh fruit at the supermarket so freestyle with your cake decorating and have fun! You can even colour your frosting if you wish for a themed celebration with a few drops of food colouring or paste. Enjoy!

These beautiful frosted cupcakes are best eaten ASAP of course, but will keep for a few days if refrigerated and airtight, make sure you eat at room temperature for maximum flavour so bring out a few hours before.

Recipe courtesy of Juliet Sear

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