Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes

There are two stories relating to these cupcakes, and the first is the story of baking them. While shopping for ingredients, I discovered that the grocery store was out of disposable muffin pans. Not wanting to wander around West Philly searching for them, I decided to try out the muffin cups that supposedly allow you to bake muffins by filling the cups and placing them on a regular baking tray. Bad idea. The couldn't hold their shape, and expanded significantly in the oven, causing the cupcakes to become smushed into several giant, deformed cakes. I ended up making an entire second batch -- in the non-disposable cupcake pan that I had forgotten I owned. Thank goodness the recipe was super easy.

The second story (this one is actually not really story) relates to serving the cupcakes. We brought them to New Jersey to serve at a reception for my grandmother's art show at her public library. The event was hilarious, because how could a gathering of 65+ Jewish people from New Jersey not be?

The recipe for the cupcakes is from the Magnolia Bakery, so we knew that they would taste great. Despite this, they surpassed our expectations by miles, tasting seriously out of this world. These cupcakes are fluffy like clouds, and moist like the softest cake. They taste like warm vanilla sugar, but not overwhelmingly. They hold together well, but melt gently on the tongue. With the icing, there's no question that these cupcakes have been precisely designed to taste like the most perfect little vanilla cakes in the world.

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line muffin tins with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, combine the flours, and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Incorporate the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before icing.

To make icing, place butter, 4 cups of sugar, milk and vanilla in a bowl. Beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to spread. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. Icing can be store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.