Desperately Seeking…Vanilla Recipe Perfection

18 Jun

So last week was vanilla recipe testing. Like all good cupcake makers, I am in need of a “go-to” vanilla recipe alongside my “go-to” chocolate recipe. Furthermore, alongside my buttercream recipe, I also want a “go-to” cream cheese frosting recipe. So last Tuesday’s bake night was dedicated to perfecting vanilla cupcakes with a strawberry cream cheese frosting.

The night started out nice and early as I ensured not to double-book myself. The night also started out with a full box of 10 eggs. So here is how it went.

I started with a vegetable oil based cupcake recipe, as I found that the was the trick to my success in keeping moisture in my chocolate cupcakes. Then I looked at the bookmarked recipe and I realized this recipe only baked 12 cupcakes, which just won’t do for an entire group of sugar-crazy Deutschkurs friends. So, I doubled the ingredients. Sounds easy right? I added 4 eggs instead of 2 and that is where the recipe went a little wrong. But, not knowing any better, I placed the batter into the cupcake pan and let the little guys bake.

The result of all this was that the cupcakes tasted really really eggy. And very dense also. They kind of tasted like egg and butter. There were no other hints or undertones of loveliness. Not very exciting or very good, if I didn’t want to get a verbal lashing from my testers. It was 21:30 by this time, but I thought, oh well, I better try another recipe. So off I went.

My next recipe only called for egg whites. Interesting. I went with it and it turned out really nice. The texture was more fluffy and the taste sweeter, an all around better cupcake.

Next came, the frosting. This was also a bit of a trial. The first try at it, I curdled the cream cheese. I had big goopy chunks of butter swimming amongst cream cheese and powdered sugar and not blending AT ALL! Not a pretty picture.

So I hopped, jumped and skipped to my local REWE supermarket before it closed and started again on my frosting. This time I whipped the butter first, all by its lonesome, until it was pale and fluffy and then I added the cream cheese. This worked much better. I added fresh pureed strawberries and not too much powdered sugar and achieved success. As is quickly becoming tradition, I set the frosting in the fridge to firm up and left the frosting until the morning.

Raising to the beautiful sunshine and anticipating a quick frosting session, I was rudely awakened with a difficult frosting to work with. I don’t know what happened to it, but it did not want to come out evenly from the bag and instead decided it would come out in fits and starts. Also it was not well blended and therefore not very smooth and velvety. After a lot of concentration, I iced the cupcakes and topped each one with a round slice of strawberry.

Key learnings:

1. Need to work on the cream cheese frosting recipe. I started to google and came across a suggestion of making a normal buttercream frosting at first and then adding the cream cheese last.

2. Add something to make the cream cheese not melt! Luckily I had a cold fridge at work but without pure coldness, the frosting turns to mush. Wonk wahhh.

3. Would like to create an smoother frosting for next time.

4. Still need to work on the vanilla cupcake recipe. Although the second recipe was better, anything would have been better compared to the first batch!

This time I did not receive that many questionnaires back, namely because I did not have more than 15 good cupcakes for the reviewing, after my recipe FAIL! So I only actually received 6 questionnaires back.

Testers’ Response:

1. Overall, I did not get that many 1’s (i.e. perfect experience) but a lot of 2’s and 3’s, although no one actually said they wanted to change the recipe.

2. Need to make the cupcakes more fluffy and airy.

3. They really liked the presentation. Pink and strawberry fans!

The crowd I serve my cupcakes to are clearly lovers and not haters, which is good. However, nonetheless I always expect earth-shatteringly bad reviews. I am fortunate to get tons of support and excitement, even if I am an amateur Cupcake Queen. Maybe, I am just too hard on myself and insecure, but I still feel like I haven’t cracked this old vanilla nut, yet. Or would that be vanilla bean? I still haven’t cracked this ol’ vanilla bean! The search Germany’s Next Top Vanilla Recipe continues!

P.S. I have my second order this weekend! A couple dozen carrot cake cupcakes to a good friend’s house warming party. I gotta make these babies perfect or else..!

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One Response to “Desperately Seeking…Vanilla Recipe Perfection”

  1. She Whisks September 18, 2010 at 19:24 #

    Hiya, I totally relate to cream cheese frosting dilemma. I’ve been having a hard time lately and then finally I thought I’d try another way before giving up on cream cheese frosting for good! I made a normal buttercream first and then added the cream cheese and flavouring and it worked! xx

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