Sunday, May 19, 2013

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes and A Holiday

I am back from a wonderful and much awaited holiday. This time it was a road trip down south, to the beautiful city of Vizag. Nothing like a great holiday with your family. We started an early morning from Calcutta and with just one halt in Bhubaneshwar for the night, we reached our destination the following day.

The moment we took the Beach Road I loved everything about the city. It's nice, clean and well organised. The very first breathtaking view of the city endowed with beautiful beaches created my first impression. We checked into a hotel situated on the sea front at the Beach Road which offered a panoramic view of the Bay of Bengal. We got this stunning view of the sea from our room.

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Vizag, the city which is also referred to as the Goa of the East Coast has a lots to it's credit. Once a small fishing village has now been successfully transformed into a bustling port city. It is also the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy.


We reached Vizag from Bhubaneshwar sometime around late afternoon. The hectic drive of about 8 hours left us drained of all energy. A cool shower and a sumptuous meal took away the fatigue though. During the later part of the day, we gorged ourselves with more and more food and drinks.

We knew May won't be the best month to visit Vizag. Summers there are harsh and oppressive and gets pretty uncomfortable. Being a coastal region the weather remains pretty much the same during the entire year. Though the humidity during the summer time is high. Still, the hot and humid weather couldn't turn us away from visiting the tourist spots. At least some.

We decided we won't go to many places. I intended to visit the Simhachalam Temple first. I was told by a friend to try and not miss that. It's one of the important places to visit. But we couldn't make it according to the temple timings. So we have kept it for our next visit. Next, we were suggested to go to Kaisalagiri.

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The entire view of the sea amalgamating with the busy city and the serene blue sky is got from the hilltop Kailasagiri. A point from where you enjoy the striking beauty of the rocky beach beneath. It was worth the visit. Next, it was lunch time for us hungry souls. All that walking on the roads of Kailasagiri made us digest our heavy breakfast.

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By now, the weather had got the better of us and we knew it was time for some chilled beer to gain new vigor and energy. And also, order a lavish lunch. So, the lazy afternoon was well spent with M having some great conversations and planning our next road trip. From here we called it a day and returned to the hotel. During the evening we were lounging around the pool side, eating, drinking and just talking about everything and nothing. Life is good, you know.

The trip was short but memorable. It always is, when it's a trip with M. Going back to Vizag is definitely on my mind. There are many more places of interest to explore; like the Araku Valley and Bora Caves. That will be another trip, at another time.

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We came back to the hot and humid weather of Calcutta and got ourselves occupied with the everyday routine of life. Amid all this, I needed a project. If I haven't mentioned earlier, let me tell you now. I love all things vanilla. And vanilla on vanilla is THE thing for me. For long I've been waiting to discover the perfect Vanilla Cupcake. I wanted it to be light, fluffy, and also moist. So I googled for the recipe. Found. And failed. Then googled more. Found another recipe. Failed again. Tried from recipe books. They turned out well, but were not what I was expecting. Finally, I found what I was looking for. And I found it here which was adapted from here. The recipe looked so easy that I wanted to bake those cupcakes immediately. And when the first batch turned out just perfect, exactly matching up to my high expectations, I baked more and more of these.

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The recipe strongly recommends cake flour. But that is something which so far I haven't come across in Calcutta. Hence I used all purpose flour instead. And honestly, I think they turned out just fine. They were very soft, moist, light and perfectly fluffy. I wouldn't try any other recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes henceforth.

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Perfect Vanilla Cupcake with Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

For the Vanilla Cupcakes:

All Purpose Flour or Cake Flour, if available, 1 1/4 cups
Baking Powder, 1 1/4 tsp.
Baking Soda, 1/2 tsp.
Large Eggs, 2 nos.
Powdered Sugar, 3/4 cup
Pure Vanilla Extract, 1 1/2 tsp.
Oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil), 1/2 cup
Buttermilk, 1/2 cup

Notes

If you can't get buttermilk then to 1/2 cup of milk add 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Leave it aside for 5 minutes or till the milk thickens before using.

The recipe also mentioned adding salt. But I skipped that.

For the Buttercream Frosting:

Unsalted Butter, 100 gm
Confectioners' Sugar, sifted, 200 gm
Pure Vanilla Extract, 1/4 tsp.
Milk, 2 tbsp.

Preparation

To make the Vanilla Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a cupcake/muffin pan with cupcake liners.

  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour (or cake flour), baking powder and baking soda. Keep this mix aside.

  3. In another bowl beat the 2 eggs on medium speed (approx. 15-20 seconds). Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Next, add vanilla and oil and beat on medium speed for another minute.

  4. Now reduce the mixer speed to slow and add half of the flour mix. Then add half of the buttermilk, then the remaining flour mix and lastly, the remaining buttermilk. Beat everything together just until they are well combined and smooth. Do not over beat. You should have a thin batter.

  5. Pour the batter into a lined muffin pan. Fill to about 2/3 full.

  6. Bake for 12 -14 minutes (mine were done in 12 mins) at 180°C. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for sometime and then remove. They should be cooled to room temperature before you pipe on the frosting.
To make the Buttercream Frosting:
  1. Beat unsalted butter with a mixer on high speed until pale and creamy, for about 2 minutes.

  2. Reduce speed to slow and add confectioners' sugar, half a cup at a time. After each addition, beat for about 2 minutes. Once all the sugar is added, increase speed to high, and beat for 2 minutes.

  3. Add vanilla, and beat until buttercream is smooth. If not using immediately, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Next when you use it, bring it to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.
Finally, to serve, pipe on Buttercream Frosting on cooled Vanilla Cupcakes.

The other day I substituted oil with butter and saw the results were good too. But I would still stick to oil as I feel that makes the cupcakes more moist and fluffy. In case, you want to try making these with butter, use the same amount of it as the oil.

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I am glad I could finally put an end to my hunt for the Perfect Vanilla Cupcake recipe. It took me a long time and it was indeed some project for me. I was further pushed to get the Vanilla Cupcakes perfect on M's insistence. And also, pleasure of successful baking is immense for me. So, lately, on most afternoons, my home is smelling of Vanilla Cupcakes. Opps! Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes, I mean.

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9 comments:

  1. lovely click..yummy n moisty!!

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  2. superb superb photography.. will try the recipe but later...:)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Renu. Do try the recipe when you get some time.

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  3. Vanilla cupcake looks so soft and delicious. Superb decoration and wonderful click.

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  4. Wow.....what a wonderful vanilla cup cakes Arundhuti! Super moist and lovely frosting. A must try recipe dear.....:)

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  5. Loved the read dear....Felt like I too reached to the place.....Loved the cake too...:)

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  6. looks so tempting rest of the shots in the post so nice

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  7. Lovely pics dear.. seems you had a great vacation! :)

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