White Cake (Cupcakes)

I’ve been on a quest lately for the perfect white cake recipe to use for cupcakes. I needed something with a subtle, pleasant flavor to pair with bolder frostings. I wanted it to be light, but not dry. And since I wanted to use it for cupcakes, I was looking for a cake with a little extra rise to it, to get that nice rounded cupcake top. (I discovered recently that one way to prevent a rounded top, should you want a flatter cake, is to mix the butter differently: that is, rubbed thoroughly into the dry ingredients rather than creamed with the sugar.) After a few tries with other recipes, I found one that met or exceeded all of my expectations: this white cake recipe from the blog Desserts by Juliette.  While her original directions are for two nine-inch round cake layers, the recipe translates beautifully to cupcakes.

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White cakes are mild in flavor, so you will probably want frosting. I decided to try a rose-water-flavored buttercream, tinted pink with food coloring. As in, I made a normal buttercream, and simply substituted a teaspoon of rose water for the vanilla. However, nearly any flavor will work with a white cake.

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This, believe it or not, was my first time ever using cake flour! While I am sure the cake would still taste good without it (might even taste better—cake flour is heavily bleached), the cake flour made a noticeable difference in the crumb. The cake was light and airy with a fine, soft crumb that pulled away easily from the wrapper. Other ingredients are pretty standard. Note that you will have four leftover egg yolks; white cakes only use egg whites (thus the whiteness…). Makes 22-24 cupcakes, or two 9-inch cake layers.

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White Cupcakes

Ingredients
¾ C butter
1 ½ C granulated sugar
2 ¼ C cake flour
3 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
½ C milk
½ C water
1 ½ tsp vanilla
4 egg whites

Directions
1. Prepare your pans (I used two standard cupcake pans). Line pans with cupcake liners or, if using round pans, with greased and floured parchment paper on the bottom. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

2. Crack eggs and separate whites from yolks. Put the whites in a medium mixing bowl, off by themselves. You will not be using the yolks, so you can save them in the fridge for another project. The whites will not be added to the rest of the cake until the end.

3. Cream butter until smooth; add sugar and cream until fluffy. Mix in vanilla.

4. Sift dry ingredients (that’s your cake flour, baking powder, and salt) together into a bowl and set aside.

5. Your next step is fairly standard in many cake recipes:  you need to alternate adding in the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients into the butter mixture. In this case, the eggs are NOT part of the wet ingredients; only the milk and water are included. Alternate adding some of the flour mixture, then either milk or water, until everything has been mixed into one bowl except the eggs. Remember not to mix any more than is necessary to combine the ingredients and eliminate the flour pockets.

6. Set aside the batter and clean your mixer. Now, with clean beaters, go for the egg whites. Whip them into soft peaks (not as stiff as meringue, but pretty close).

7. Fold the egg whites carefully into the batter. I found this to be difficult, because the batter is fairly heavy, and seems to totally crush the egg whites. Just try to be as gentle as you can.

8. Fill pans. I filled the cupcake pans about ¾ full, and ended up just short of filling two entire pans (22 cupcakes instead of 24). Bake for about 20 min. or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for five minutes in pan, then remove to cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting. Store covered or, better yet, in an airtight container, at room temperature.

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