barbra's birthday

by Stacy

Wow, two record-setting high temperatures in a row! In the 90s! So what did I do?

Baked. Of course.

It was one of our cast member’s birthday’s today, so I made cupcakes. I never have cocoa powder at home, and I didn’t find a recipe that called for melted chocolate. You can substitute, but I am generally a little leery of swapping out dry ingredients for wet ones. Instead, I used a vanilla cupcake recipe that made an even dozen cupcakes. Straight-forward, and even had a recipe for a nice buttercream frosting.

Vanilla Cupcakes
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk

Lemony Buttercream Frosting
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 tablespoons milk

The original recipe left the lemon zest as optional and the frosting had 1 tsp of vanilla instead of half-vanilla, half-lemon. I thought the lemon added a nice freshness to the cupcakes. I also added 3 drops of yellow food coloring to the frosting since I was (*gasp*) out of sprinkles.

For cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg until smooth. Add vanilla extract and lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt). Add half the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and combine at low speed, then add milk and combine, then add the rest of the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl each time.
Place 12 paper muffin liners in a muffin pan. Fill each cake liner 3/4 way full. Bake 18-20 minutes at 350F until a toothpick comes out clean.

vanilla cupcakes

For frosting:
In a stand mixer bowl, beat room-temperature butter until smooth. Add vanilla and lemon extracts. On low speed, add in sifted powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl each time. Add milk and beat on high until fluffy. Add more sugar or milk to reach desired consistency. Add food coloring if desired.

Spread the frosting with a knife or spatula, or pipe decoratively. I used a plastic bag with the corner cut off to pipe designs. Spirals and zigzags!

vanilla cupcakesvanilla cupcakes
vanilla cupcakesvanilla cupcakes

This recipe used more butter than I think I normally use, but it made for a nice tender crumb. I really enjoyed the subtle lemon flavor and am glad I added the lemon extract to the frosting. Yum! The recipe only yields 12 cupcakes, so I had just enough for the cast to enjoy, and exactly one leftover to bring home for my husband.

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