It all started when my husband surprised me with a “Great Cupcake Pan” from Williams Sonoma. I was able to make a “3D” cake fairly easily, and the orders started coming in. Last year, I made the pig princess cake and the Pokemon Pikachu cake. This year, it was a Tangled cake and a Lego Ninjago Lloyd ZX cake. My kids were thrilled with the results! The additional decorations were made with sugar cookies. The Rapunzel tower was made with rice crispy treats and a sugar cone, the braid was yellow fondant. The recipe for the “Great Vanilla Cupcake” is from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen. In order to avoid overcooking the top, I have found that I need to bake the bottom of the cupcake 10 minutes longer than the top. The recipe usually makes enough to fill the cake pan with enough batter for 4 cupcakes leftover. The buttercream recipe makes enough to assemble the two halves of the cake.
For the Cupcake:
- 3 2/3 cups (590 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/3 cups (345 g) unsalted butter
- 2 1/3 cups (590 g) granulated sugar
- 5 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups (340 ml) milk
For the Buttercream: (multiply the recipe 4 times to assemble the 2 halves and cover the entire cake)
- 4 T unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups 9185 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 T milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
- Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Grease and flour the Great Cupcake Pan; tap out excess flour.
- To make the cupcake, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla just until incorporated, about 1 minute.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition just until incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Spoon the batter into the BOTTOM of the pan, filling the well to within 1/2 inch of the rim and spreading the batter so the sides are higher than the center. Bake for 10 minutes, then fill the TOP of the pan in the same manner. Bake until the cupcake halves begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of each half comes out clean, approximately 70 (top) to 80 (bottom) minutes on convection. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcake cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
- Gently tap the pan on the counter to loosen the cupcake. Set the rack over the cupcake, invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cupcake cool completely, at least 2 hours, before asssembling and decorating. Wash and dry the pan.
- Meanwhile, make the buttercream: In a small bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt and continue beating until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes more.
- To assemble the cupcake, return both halves of the cooled cupcake to the pan. (This is easily done by placing the pan over the cupcake halves and inverting the rack onto the pan.) Level the cupcake by using a serrated knife to gently saw off the part of each half that rose above the edge of the pan.
- Spread about 1/2 cup of the buttercream over the cut side of the cupcake half that is still in the pan (the cupcake top). Place the cupcake base, cut side down, on top of the buttercream, lining up the edges. Gently press down to secure the two halves. Cover the cupcake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the buttercream is firm, about 1 hour.
- Remove the cupcake from the pan by lifting the pan vertically and tilting it forward, then catching the cupcake with your hand. Decorate as desired. Serves 16.