First off, picking one of the 60 plus cupcake recipes to try from the round-up was difficult. Ultimately I was somewhat overwhelmed and just decided to go with what I was craving at the time – Boston Cream Cupcakes. I was also in the mood for bananas and added some fresh, chopped up banana to the pastry cream. As expected, the cupcakes were immensely satisfying. But then again, I am in the throes of pregnancy, so my opinion is a little bit suspect.
I also took this opportunity to experiment with vanilla cupcake recipes. If you recall from a couple posts ago, I have been comparing a bunch of vanilla cupcake recipes and I was eager to get started with testing.
Martha Versus Amy
Martha’s cupcakes were extremely dense, but not dry. They were so dense; it was almost like biting into meat (ok, I exaggerate slightly). Flavor-wise, they weren’t terribly interesting. Ultimately this was ok in this recipe, as the banana pastry cream and chocolate ganache definitely made up for the flavorless cake. The recipe was very accurate and the cake very cooperative. As advertised, I got exactly 12 cupcakes out of the batch and she was specific as to how full I should fill the papers. They rose perfectly to a dome (preferred by some) and I had no trouble with them as far as mixing, baking, filling, and frosting go. The end result looked the best and I ended up taking these to the dinner party and not Amy’s.
Final word: I could see where this would be the best recipe when you want that perfectly round and flat cake (for example for a wedding cake) and don’t mind compromising on flavor and texture.
Amy’s cupcakes were less dense, had a tastier, more vanilla flavor and were also not dry. The crumb was more delicate and the experience was more like biting into actual cake than Martha’s. However, the recipe was inaccurate and the cake less cooperative. The recipe also specified 12 cupcakes and did not suggest how full to fill the papers. I got far more than 12 cupcakes out of the batch and ended filling them too full (slightly over 3/4s full) attempting to follow the recipe without adjusting for experience. A lot of the cupcakes overflowed and a few sank a bit. These were a lot harder to fill and frost, because of the unevenness of the end result. I am certain, however, that with proper filling (I would recommend between 2/3s and 3/4s full), they would come out fine and would be a far tastier alternative.
Final word: Overall a much more enjoyable eating experience. For cupcakes or any situation where something can be imperfect, these would be my preferred choice.
As you know, I use the Magnolia recipe quite a bit. Magnolia’s texture is somewhere in the middle… denser than Amy’s but not as dense as Martha’s. They can also be uncooperative, but I find the flavor very buttery and delicious. Someone left a comment on a prior post of mine that uses the Magnolia recipe and the person said that “These are like wedding cake–dense and bland.” and I couldn’t disagree more. I think Martha’s recipe could be described as that, but I can also see why and when the recipe would come in handy.
Vanilla Cupcakes from Martha Stewart
12 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time; scrape down bowl, and beat in vanilla.
3. Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
4. Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners, about three-quarters full each. Bake until golden and tops spring back to touch, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer pans to wire rack; cool completely.
Vanilla Cupcakes from Amy Sedaris
12 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven
1½ sticks unsalted butter
1¾ cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
2½ teaspoons baking powder
2½ cups flour
1¼ cups milk
1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
3. Beat in eggs, vanilla, salt and baking powder.
4. Add flour in 3 batches, alternating with milk.
5. Beat at low speed for 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth and satiny.
6. Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean.
7. Cool on wire rack for 45 minutes or until at room temperature.
Note: This recipe makes more than 12 cupcakes (maybe around 16). Be careful to fill only 2/3s to 3/4s full so they don’t overflow.
Banana Pastry Cream
2 cups Whole milk
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
2 bananas, medium sized
1. Heat milk, ¼ cup of the sugar, the vanilla, and salt in a pan over medium until it reaches a simmer,
2. Whisk egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining ¼ cup sugar in a medium sized bowl until combined.
3. Slowly add ½ cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking continuously.
4. Add remaining milk mixture slowly while whisking.
5. Transfer back into the pan and heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until it thickens. It will thicken all of a sudden, give it a good whisk then take it off the heat.
6. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer, add the butter, and with a paddle attachment beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.
7. Transfer to a bowl, cover will plastic wrap touching the cream, and refrigerate until cool, hour or so. This can be made a day in advance.
8. Chop two fresh bananas into small chunks and fold into the pastry cream before using.
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1. Chop chocolates and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
3. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. Add butter and vanilla and stir until all chocolate is melted and combined. If the chocolate won’t completely melt, place bowl over a water bath to finish the job.
5. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixture and let cool for 10 minutes.
6. Sift powdered sugar into the mixture and beat until combined.
7. Continue to beat with an electric mixer until lighter in color and creamy.
8. Transfer to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Note: I had plenty of pastry cream and chocolate ganache for all the cupcakes with a little bit left over.
1. Using a small pairing knife, cut off the top of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Flip the top over and cut off the cone.
2. Fill the cavity with the banana pastry cream.
3. Replace the top of the cone.
4. Scoop a tablespoon of ganache on top of each cupcake.
5. The ganache will be very thick. I dip a small palette knife in very hot water, dry with a cloth, and then smooth down ganache.
6. I topped these cupcakes with caramelized banana disks.