Browsing through my mom’s recipe file (your mom probably had one too – they were all the rage before Pinterest), I found a combination of recipes cut from magazines (mostly pristine and untouched) and lots of well-used hand-written recipes titled things like “Carol Verwayan’s Fruitcake” or “Rhoda’s Cheese Straws” covered in drips and oily spots. Usually they lacked clear instructions, mostly consisting of a hurriedly written list of ingredients and a few curly brackets that said things like “mix”, all finished off with an oven temperature and a time.
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My mom’s recipe book inspired me to start a similar tradition of naming recipes after the people I get them from. The original recipes probably came from old books or “somewhere on the internet”. But they have been honed by flesh and blood people (that I know!) to make something I have actually tasted and admired. So, without further ado, Kerry-Anne’s moist vanilla cupcakes (below with adaptations and in my own words). The perfect moist cupcake that doesn’t go stale for a few days, it also makes me happy because she is the mother of five! Perfect for Mother’s Day!
This recipe stipulates granulated sugar, and this may seem a strange choice (most recipes call for castor sugar), but because it is a relatively wet mix, the sugar easily dissolves. Granulated sugar is also cheaper and most people have it readily available in their pantry cupboard.
This recipe specifies vanilla essence (cheap and cheerful), but if you want to take your cakes to the next level, try replacing it with an equal quantity of vanilla extract.
Oil-based recipes are moister and keep fresher for longer than butter based recipes. That’s because oil is liquid at room temperature, unlike butter which is solid at room temperature, creating a firmer cake.
Because this is an oil-based recipe, there isn’t any salt in the mixture from butter, so make sure you add the salt or it will taste rather bland.
Buttermilk – “the real secret ingredient”
The acidity of buttermilk counteracts any “soda” taste from the raising agent, but it also contributes to a softer, richer cake. Yoghurt or maas can also be used.
When it comes to adding the flour, don’t over-mix the batter, as this can cause weird air bubbles in the cake. Gently fold in the flour and leave it at that.
Kerry-Anne’s vanilla cupcake recipe
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup oil
2 ½ cups flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat until foamy and pale. Mix in the oil and beat lightly again.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt. Gently, with a metal spoon fold in the flour a little at a time alternating with the buttermilk, and ending with flour until all the ingredients have been added.
Spoon the mix out using a ¼ cup measuring spoon into paper cases.
Bake in a preheated 180°C oven for approximately 15 minutes.
This mix makes about 36 medium-sized cupcakes. Mixture can be halved or doubled.
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