Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Help! Lookin for a fluffy yellow (cup)cake recipe!

A very close friend, E., is getting married in 10 days. I'm in charge of cooking most of the food and baking the wedding cupcakes. *gulp* Luckily for me, someone with no catering experience whatsoever, the wedding is small so I won’t be cooking for tons of people for the first time, when the most I’ve cooked for is a grand total of five. And don’t worry, she knows this. I would be a craptastic friend if I volunteered for this job and said “by the way...” a few days before the wedding.

I'm trying to keep my cool for as long as possible and not flip out-verrryyyy important at this point. I finished testing all of the food last weekend (thank goodness for the 3 day weekend) and finished the yellow cake last night (there will be both chocolate and yellow cake). At least I thought I finished it. First attempt went in the compost bin because I did my math wrong, sad realization that mental math is not like riding a bike. Major fail. With the second attempt, the flavor is good, but the texture didn't meet my standards. Finals are T minus 5 days and as much as I love experimenting with recipes, I’m obviously running out of time! So dear readers, I’m going to do some thinking out loud, or rather, on this blog and please let me know what you think!

Here’s the recipe I used last night, which I adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated yellow cupcake recipe. I really respect Cook’s Illustrated, they usually never fail me so their recipe could be solid and the texture could have been compromised by the changes I made. I hate to be that person that rags on a perfectly good recipe even though I made x, y, and z changes.

(Almond) Yellow Cupcake
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 C buttermilk
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp amaretto

My Adaptations:
- Original recipe called for 8 Tbsp butter, but I switched 2 Tbsp of that with 2 Tbsp of oil because I read somewhere that oil will make cakes taste moister at slightly chilled or room temp? Not sure how true this is.
- Decreased the sugar from 1 C (way too sweet) to 1/2 C
- Subbed 1/2 C sour cream for 1/2 C buttermilk
- Added almond extract and amaretto and took out vanilla extract

General idea: cream butter and sugar, add an egg at a time, beat throrougly, add oil and buttermilk. Sift in dry ingredients, and fold gently. Bake at 350F for 20 – 24 minutes.
The problem is the cake I made with all purpose flour turned out like a pound cake, which is good for breakfast, bad for wedding cake, or wedding cupcake in this case. I hate to say this, but boxed cake mix had a better, cakey texture. *hangs head in shame*

One thing I tried to avoid from the beginning is cake flour. Don’t get me wrong, I heart cake flour, it certainly makes cakes magical (called cake flour for a reason!) but it’s also more expensive compared to all-purpose flour. E. and I are trying to keep costs as low as possible.

Right now I have a few options:
- Mix of all purpose flour + cornstarch: I found a recipe in my Martha Stewart book that calls for 1 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of cornstarch (6 eggs beaten to ribbon stage, yadda yadda...).
- Another option is to mix parts all purpose flour and cake flour (again saw a few recipes in Martha Stewart’s book that did that).
- And the third option, one I have been trying to avoid, is to just use all cake flour.


- Should I be using milk instead of buttermilk? I always thought buttermilk was superior and we rarely have milk in the house because neither Steven nor I drink it, but I'm having a hard time finding a reliable fluffy, buttermilk, yellow cake recipe. Dorie's party cake calls for buttermilk, but that's a white cake with cake flour (see cake flour above).
- Is it redundant to use both almond extract and amaretto? I had both so I just used both but I wasn’t sure if there was a taste difference or if it’s better to use one or the other.
- If I do a Genoise style cake, then I'll have to use oil, or melted butter, or a combo of both. I usually learn towards a combo of both for flavor and moistness.

What do you think? Any suggestions?


Intisar said...

This one is pretty good. Nice and fluffy.

Michelle said...

Bakerella has great yellow cake recipe.

Good luck

cakeflower said...

I was going to mention Bakerella's recipe as well. I use it for cakes and cupcakes!

Trish said...

All I can say is that I admire you...what a huge task! Good luck...

Tartelette said...

Just a few things off the top of my head:
- for every cup of ap flour take out 2 Tb of it and you have the equivalent for the cake flour
- stick to sour cream: the "fluff" of its textre helps keep the air in the cake, buttermilk compacts all of it down.
- preferably stick to all butter
- can you try with 3/4 cup sugar instead of 1/2 cup. It has greater properties than just sweetening (cake structure).

Hope that helps!

Iron Chef said...


I was wondering since we have the same niche, it would really help our rankings as well as increase our hits by exchanging links. I love your blog and would like to share it to my readers.

Title: Food Recipes Made Easy

Please drop me a comment once you have added my link so that I can do the same for you site. Please provide me with the title of the link as well as the url.


Veron said...

the cupcake recipe I use is not for a fluffy yellow cake...but I'm glad that you've have several good suggestions! And I agree with Helen, the sugar adds to the structure so you don't want to drastically cut it in half.

joy said...

Have you tried a Martha Stewart recipe? Her onw-bowl chocolate cake is divine and her swiss meringue buttercream is easy to work with and delicious. Good luck!

Amy said...

Thanks for the suggestions so far, keep em coming! :)

White lily self rising flour might be hard to find in this area.

Thanks for the pointers Helen!

Veron, do you have a fav go-to cupcake recipe?

Cookin' Canuck said...

Go on There are plenty of recipes, along with ratings.

jmisgro said...

A few weeks ago I borrowed Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" from the library.
I made his yellow cake recipe as cupcakes. I did not write down the recipe because I plan to buy the book.
Maybe your local library has a copy.

Plowlady said...

I know my post isnt going to be helpful with your recipe search,, i would like to say what an amazing opportunity, friendship and trust you posses...awesome, simply awesome. next, I would like to tell you there are some recipe sites out there that let you change the amount of servings, saving you guess work and finally, goodluck and congrats

Memória said...

I would NOT recommend Bakerella's recipe. Even on the picture, the texture of the cake looks dry. I didn't like it all. I ended up throwing my cake away. I am also looking for a moist, yellow cake. (BTW, I followed her recipe exactly, including the sugar water)

Hillary said...

Here is a good basic recipe for plain cupcakes. Add any flavoring you want!

Amy said...

Thanks for all the help everyone!

peterpascoe25 said...

Try going to


Blog Widget by LinkWithin