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.