They’re supposed to be so easy; something you can just do with your kids on a rainy afternoon. One should be able to knock them up in a few minutes, and any baker (or just human being) will already have the staple required ingredients in their house: butter, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, milk. That’s all right? In fact, the basic cupcake should be so easy that you can spice them up a little with say, some crushed Mini Eggs, and still come out perfectly.
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml whole milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not over mix.
Spoon the mixture into paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 18-25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. Use a mechanical ice cream scoop for identical even cupcakes. I bought a normal ice cream scoop before but you end up getting your finger or another spoon to get the mix out. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the Vanilla Frosting on top and decorate.
For the Vanilla Frosting
250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
25ml of whole milk
a couple of drops of vanilla extract
Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of spoonfuls at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.