Cupcakes are small cakes baked in a muffin tin and are usually frosted and decorated. Perfect for parties, holidays or plain everyday food, cupcakes are easy to make and enjoyed by almost everyone.
Cupcake recipes typically call for unsalted butter, which is used more often in baking than butter with salt. This way the baker has more control over how much salt is used in a recipe (if any).
Use fine-grained sugar, sometimes called baking sugar, for best results. When mixed with butter, sugar helps incorporate air into the cake mixture, making the cupcakes light and fluffy.
All-purpose flour will get the job done. Cake flour, which has a finer texture and higher starch content, can also be used. Use 1 cup plus 2 tbs. of cake flour for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour.
Depending on the complexity of the cupcake recipe, you may be required to separate the egg yolk from the egg whites. Beating the egg whites before adding the yolk affects the density of the cake.
If you use pure vanilla extract instead of imitation vanilla, use only half of the quantity called for in the recipe. Pure extract is more intensely flavored (and about twice as expensive).
References and ResourcesThe New Food Lover's Companion; Barron's; 2007
Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
Basic Vanilla Cupcake Recipe