Feeding yourself in one thing, creative cooking is another.
After the thrill of being able to cook whatever I wanted wore off in my first semester living alone (can you say stir fry four times a week?), I knew that heading into 2016 needed to be different, or I eventually was going to get bored with cooking and *gasp* start, ordering in (the horror!). I’m an avid goal setter, and this year I set myself the goal to make 52 new recipes over the year, ideally once per week. I had no rules past that. Big or small, savory or sweet, as long as it was new to me (cooking wise, that is), it would count.
This past week, I finally hit my half way mark, ahead of schedule. Overall, I’ve been pretty consistent at making one new recipe per week, but some weeks were more about cooking (study week) and some were not (finals time). I’m glad it’s balanced itself out and I’ve tried so many amazing recipes that I cannot wait to share. To celebrate my half way mark, I made something I’ve surprisingly never attempted; homemade vanilla cupcakes. My mother, queen of homemade herself, never bothered herself with making homemade vanilla cupcakes and if she made them, they were from a cake mix. Essential cooking hack from my mother: if you make homemade icing and put it on cake mix cupcakes, they will taste amazingly homemade. For future reference 🙂
I used the recipe from Pastry Affair and even though the recipe was from 2012, it obviously has stood the test of time:
Adapted slightly from Pastry Affair
Yields about 18 cupcakes
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream (or plain, non-fat yogurt, I used sour cream)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (I used artificial because #studentbudget, but I would recommend true vanilla for a stronger flavour)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Gradually add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the milk, mixing until batter is uniform and smooth.
Fill baking cups about 2/3 full and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I checked mine at 14 minutes and they were not ready. Another 5 minutes and they were perfect! Remove from the oven, transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack, and allow to cool to room temperature before frosting. When cool, frost and garnish with as many sprinkles as you can!
Yield: a perfect amount to ice 17 cupcakes (because I got hungry and had to try one)
Slightly adapted from Pastry Affair (this frosting is very common and exactly what my mother taught me as a child. The problem is it was always eyeballed, so if I was truely writing a frosting recipe, it would have measurements such as “a few scoops of butter” and “enough milk.”)
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until combined. Add the milk and extracts. Keep beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.