Vanilla Sponge Cupcakes (香草海绵杯子蛋糕)

Friday, 30 August 2013

The cake is fluffy, moist and not too holey. The buttercream is velvety smooth and not too rich or too sweet. The roses look reasonably like roses, and stayed that way without air-condition.

Yup, I'm happy with my vanilla cupcakes.

My sponge cupcakes are made with whole eggs, i.e. the eggs aren't separated. This method is a bit tricky because yolks and whites whisked together deflate easily when you add flour and butter/oil. Deflated batter makes cupcakes that are dense and hard.

I make light and fluffy sponge cupcakes that are moist, not dried out like some sponge cakes tend to be. And the crumb isn't too holey. How do I do it?

I whisk the eggs, along with sugar and a bit of glucose, till the ribbon stage, i.e. when I lift the whisk, a "ribbon" falls in a steady stream and sits on top of the mixture without sinking.

The eggs are now thick, with some air bubbles visible. To prevent the cake from being too holey and rough, I have to get rid of these visible air bubbles. How do I do that? By whisking slowly for a few minutes, till the eggs are silky smooth, i.e. I don't see any air bubbles.

Once the eggs are whisked to the right thickness and smoothness, I sift cake flour into the mixture. If it 
goes into one spot, all in one go, the flour would sink and stick to the bottom of the bowl. I can loosen the flour with a spatula, right? Sure I can but the eggs can't stand that much agitation. By the time I'm done, the mixture would be horribly deflated. Solution: sift the flour into the bowl in two lots, and move the sieve around as I sift. Done this way, the flour doesn't sink like it's in quicksand but sits nicely on the eggs.

After adding each batch of flour, I mix it with the eggs using a whisk. The objective here is not 
to mix evenly yet but quickly spread out the flour in the eggs so that it doesn't clump and form lumps. I have to stir gently, without the whisk touching the bottom of the bowl at all. The bottom half of the eggs is undisturbed, so it has no chance of deflating. It acts as the support for the top half, and prevents that from deflating as it's being mixed.

Milk, oil and vanilla extract are stirred together, then gently drizzled around the bowl so that some of the mixture – the more the better – sits on the batter. Next, I mix a bit with a whisk to gently and quickly spread out the amount that hasn't sunk and disappeared from view. Again, the whisk doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl.

I now have an uneven batter, right? I switch to a spatula and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then I fold the batter, scraping the bottom of the bowl, and I keep folding till I don't see any oil or flour. I now have an evenly mixed batter that's totally billowy, not deflated.

The batter is very light and airy, so it sets very quickly in the oven. To make sure the top is nicely golden brown when the inside is done, I add a bit of glucose to the eggs before I start whisking. I also move the cakes a bit closer to the oven's top heat for the last five minutes of the baking.

What makes the cupcakes moist? It's the combination of oil, milk, glucose and sugar. Can you leave out or reduce any of these ingredients? Of course you can. Hey, you can leave out the flour, eggs, salt and vanilla extract as well and bake empty muffin pans in the oven if that suits you. Whatever floats your boat, you know? And if your boat sinks, or you have no boat to speak of, please don't ask me why.



VANILLA SPONGE CUPCAKES (香草海绵杯子蛋糕)
(Recipe for 8 cupcakes)
Cupcakes
100 g eggs
6 g glucose
40 g castor sugar
40 g cake flour
1/16 tsp salt
10 g full-fat milk
30 g corn oil
add to milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
add to milk and corn oil
Buttercream (source: adapted from WendyinKK)
50 g sugar
30 g egg white
85 g unsalted butter, soft but not too soft

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place paper liners in 8 muffin cups. Place muffin cups on baking tray. (Paper or cardboard moulds are good too. This recipe isn't fussy about what it's baked in.)

To make cupcakes, whisk eggs, glucose and castor sugar till ribbon stage, i.e. mixture is pale and, when whisk is lifted, drips back into bowl and stays visible.

Sift half of cake flour into egg mixture, moving sieve around bowl so that flour isn't clumped in one area. Gently stir just top part of eggs with whisk, till you see only a bit of flour. Sift remaining half of flour as before. Add salt. Repeat gentle mixing, this time till you don't see any flour.

Stir milk, oil and vanilla extract till well mixed. Gently drizzle mixture around bowl. Mix with whisk till you don't see any oil, again stirring just top part of batter. Using spatula, scrape down thoroughly and fold till just evenly mixed. Divide batter equally between muffin cups, i.e. 27 g each.

Bake 10 minutes on middle shelf till batter is risen. Transfer to upper-middle shelf. Continue baking till golden brown and slightly springy when pressed, another 5 minutes or so.

Remove cakes to wire rack. Wait 5 minutes. Unmould. Serve whilst warm and top is slightly crusty. Alternatively, leave till cool and serve topped with buttercream.

To make buttercream, cook egg white and sugar over low heat, whisking constantly and checking from time to time if sugar is melted by rubbing drop of mixture between fingers. When sugar is just melted, whisk on high speed mixture till thick, glossy and cold. Add half of butter. Whisk on high speed till well combined. Add remaining butter. Whisk on high speed till mixture is stiff. Pipe or spread on cupcakes as desired. Recipe makes enough for frosting 16 cupcakes, or 8 if you're a pig.

15 comments:

SK said...

I always ended up laughing whenever I read KT's blog. It is also quite amusing to read her answers to some of her followers' silly questions like 'can I leave out this n that', to that she answered: 'of course, it's your cake!', and in her recent post:' you can bake empty muffin pans if that suits u' , 'whatever floats your boat'. I couldnt help lol when i read this, really. Now I have the answers for my friends who always asked me these annoying questions even b4 trying out the recipes I gave them :)

Judy Tung said...

Hi KT, this is another great recipe from you. I will definitely try it soon. Can I multiply this recipe? Yours is my favorite blog even though I stumbled upon it only recently. I'm such a fan now. Thank you so very much.

Jacq Kowae said...

Thank you so much for sharing your amazing recipes. i am already buying ingredients to make the vanilla sponge cupcakes for my husband's b'day next week. I truly enjoy how witty and descriptive you are.

Angel said...

Hi KT,
May I ask what is the oven brand you use?

kt said...

You are welcome. Of course you can scale up the recipe. Good luck.

kt said...

You are welcome, Jacq. Good luck with the cupcakes.

Ling said...

Had a good giggle at the last paragraph ;) Skillz, KT! Thanks for the tips - it's been a while since I attempted a Genoese sponge!

Worktop Guy said...

Wow, these look delicious! And they'd definitely just make 8 for me, usually I've digested half the icing before they even make it to the top of the sponge!

http://www.madetofit.com/worktops

Cjs said...

Hi KT

do you think it would be possible to adapt this style of whisking the whole eggs to the other type of cakes such as your Hokkaido cupcakes? Because I find it really easier as there is less washing and making sure the bowl is dry for egg whites whisking. I have just baked this recipe and my cupcakes just came out of the oven and they are very nice, even without the frost. Thanks !

kt said...

My bowl for whisking egg whites is usually wet (but not dripping wet). Egg whites are 80% water, so they're not bothered by a wet bowl.

Cjs said...

Ok thanks!

Sophie said...

Hi KT,


Could you post a recipe of a sponge cake fruit cake with whipped cream? Like at the Chinese bakeries? Those are so delicious! Is this similar to that recipe? I would love to see a video on it, if you have time! I just saw a video of another cake you made, but now I'm a fan! Could I substitute glucose with sugar? Since technically it's the same, chemically...and instead of just 8 can you post a recipe for a whole cake? Do you really weigh everything? Is it possible to use quantity of egg whites rather than the weight of it? Thank you so much I look forward to seeing/learning more recipes!

Sophie said...

I don't think I have ever seen glucose in a store...

Love Cakes said...

Thank god I found u!! I adore u! Yr recipe r great and u make mr laugh with yr wittiness!

hibiscus said...

where can i buy cake flour? can i uses all purpose flour will the cake turn out different? i been looking for cup cake receipt for months and finally found u. your cake look exactly what i want but the problem is never uses cake flour before. please help

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