One of my friends had her engagement party last week and, as usual, I wanted to bake something for the occasion. I have struggled with making cakes at high altitude so, instead of taking a chance on a regular recipe and trying to make it work, I turned to the few high-altitude cake recipes that “Joy of Cooking” had to offer. I settled on the 1234 cake, which got its name because its formula at sea level calls for 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour and 4 eggs. I call them countdown cupcakes because I always remember the recipe in the reverse order.
I’ve previously said that I dislike decorating baked goods, and I hold to that, but I do believe there’s a time and place for it. This was one of those instances. I came up with the frosting I wanted, but I wanted to do something appropriate for the celebration. I wanted to work hearts into the decoration, so I used a box cutter to cut a heart out of a piece of parchment paper. I placed the cut-out on each cupcake and used a sieve to sprinkle powdered sugar over it. I was pleased with the way it turned out. For the mini cupcakes, I cut a smaller heart out of a piece of parchment paper and put the larger piece of paper on each cupcake so it served as a sort of stencil. They were adorable. My friend loved them.
This recipe made 16 full-size cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes, but could easily be turned into all regular-size cupcakes or all mini cupcakes. For mini cupcakes, bake 8-10 minutes.
With Valentine’s Day this week, I hope you find something delightful to make for your loved ones.
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups minus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk or heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. If at high altitude, spray the liners with a nonstick spray such as Pam.
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Combine butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl and beat until well-blended. Scrape down the bowl and beat for 1 minute. Add three eggs and beat again, scraping down the bowl afterward. Add remaining two eggs and combine until well-blended.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture in two parts, alternating with buttermilk. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute, or until batter is smooth and creamy.
Fill each cupcake in the pan three-quarters full of batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon salt
Beat butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder and sour cream and beat until combined. Add extract and salt and frost cupcakes.