When people ask me for recipes, things tend to get a little dicey. You see, I have a deep, dark, secret.
I can’t follow directions.
I know, shocking, right? No? Oh, well, I didn’t realize you knew me way back when, in which case it is not only not shocking, but laughably predictable. Ahem.
Anyhoo, I take a perfectly lovely recipe, get started tossing in the ingredients, and then… well, I’m not really sure what happens. “That couldn’t possibly be enough butter,” I think, tossing in an extra tablespoon. “That amount of milk will never make it moist enough!” In goes a dollop of Daisy. “Why is there no lemon zest? Everything is better with lemon zest!”
In short, I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants baker, otherwise known as a panster.
Interestingly enough, I am also a panster writer. When I first started writing, I tried to plot ahead, but my characters kept taking a right turn at Albuquerque and it was all I can do to keep up. Once I let my story develop organically, I think my writing became smoother and the stories more interesting. My lack of planning seems to work wonders in my writing and baking, but it may also explain why I have such dreadful organizational skills…
Back to baking. Most of the time, my little concoctions turn out, well, pretty awesome. I know, I know. Erin, you say, how could you brag like that? My only defense: because it’s true. I may suck at art, I may have taken two years of piano lessons to be able to peck out Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star off key, and I may quite possibly be the worst housekeeper in the universe, but I can bake a cake that will make you cry with happiness.
So, that should be a good thing, right? Well, it is. All the way up until someone asks me for the recipe.
Now, some of you may not realize that there is a seedy, dark underbelly to the otherwise sweet world of culinary creations. There are certain people out there who take part of a rather dubious practice, and these people bring a bad name to recipe sharers everywhere. I speak of … the recipe saboteur. DA da duuuhhh…
These people bring their famous 7 and ¾ layer dip to a party, where everyone around raves of the delicious juxtaposition of jalapeño to cheese, salsa to sour cream. They bask in the glory, and are inevitably asked for the recipe. With a bright smile on their face, the recipe saboteur readily recites the ingredients and wishes the aspiring dip maker good luck. Said recipe recipient eagerly heads home, anxious to try out the Mexican goodness for the very next party they go to. They buy all the ingredients, follow the instructions to the letter, and proudly set off to the potluck with the dip snuggled in a festive stoneware container that was saved for just such an occasion.
The tortilla chips are produced, masses converge, and everyone dives in. And then… nothing. No praise. No accolades. No rapturous expressions of dip divinity. Instead, Brows wrinkle and looks are exchanged. Horrified, the dip maker plunges her own chip into the dip and freezes. Wait a second! This doesn’t taste like the glorious 7 and ¾ layer dip at the last party—it’s but a pale facsimile.
The recipe saboteur strikes again. These pitiless people are afraid someone else might get steal a bit of their glory and therefore sabotage the next person’s recipe.
*shaking head* A very cruel and underhanded tactic indeed.
I am NOT one of those people.
Well, at least not intentionally. If someone asks me for a recipe, I try to provide them with what they want. I always tell people up front that I’m a panster, but they inevitably give me that you’re just saying that so I can’t make your delicious cupcakes look that makes me feel like an evil recipe-saboteur anyway. Sigh. Recipe intuition is a blessing and a curse.
So for you, beloved reader, I have valiantly curbed my panster tendencies, and have done my best to provide you with my absolute best vanilla cupcake recipe. I promise I did my best to get the measurements right – I used teaspoons and everything (giving my best ‘look ma, no hands!’ expression). Give it a whirl, and let me know how it turns out for you.
Tune in NEXT TUESDAY … as everyone knows, the magic is in the frosting. Every Tuesday for the rest of the month I will provide a different frosting recipe. Keylime, cream cheese, decadant chocolate… oh yeah, it’s gonna be a great month!
*This recipe makes 3 dozen cupcakes, and can be halved or quartered easily*
2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups self rising flour
1 cup milk plus ~1 T sour cream (a dollop about yay sized…)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. butter flavor
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cream butter and sugar for 7 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Add 1 cup flour, then ½ of the milk/sour cream mix, then 1 cup flour, the rest of the milk/sour cream, then the final cup of flour.
Add the vanilla and butter flavor, mix.
Fill cupcake liners NO MORE than half full. For easy control and optimal neatness, place the batter in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag and snip one corner with a small hole.
For 3 dozen regular size cupcakes, cook 16 minutes or until toothpick comes out cleanly. For mini cupcakes, cook ~11 minutes. Cool on rack for 5 minutes before removing from pan.