Very Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes
Who doesn’t love a cupcake? They are everywhere – incredible sky-high swirls in every flavour and colour from pastel to neon, yet the simplest and fairest of them all, fluffy vanilla sponge topped with a slick of creamy vanilla frosting – is pretty hard to beat. A few years ago I was absolutely mad about cupcakes. I made hundreds in my efforts to perfect my skills and create cupcakes worthy of a boutique bakery window! And I’m rather proud to say my efforts paid off: my cupcakes were perfect, fluffy bites of heaven. For a while I considered setting up a small business as I received a steady stream of requests for cupcake towers and displays for birthdays and anniversaries, but eventually the novelty wore off as my love of butter-rich baking waned. Over time, as I learned all about vegan baking, cupcakes eventually came to the fore once more as my daughter began to request them. I was determined to crack a vegan version and after many attempts at tweaking and ‘veganising’ many of my old favourite recipes, I finally settled on this. And let me tell you, this recipe makes AMAZING cupcakes! My favourite ever, in fact – and they just happened to be vegan!
These cupcakes are light, moist and tender. They are fabulous for any occasion and can be decorated as you please. Being vegan, they are perfect for anyone with egg or dairy allergies or at a children’s party where less of the little darlings have to miss out on cake. You can also easily adapt this recipe by using a different flavour such as lemon oil instead of vanilla (a good tablespoon of lemon zest would be a good idea, too). The buttercream icing/frosting is perfect for piping or you can simply smooth it on using a palette knife.
You will need a regular 12-hole muffin tin (not an enormous one) and paper cases. (I use Dr Oetker muffin cases. You can use smaller cases for fairy cakes if you like, but you’ll need to reduce the cooking time by a few minutes).
For the cupcakes:
70g vegan butter, melted (foil-wrapped Stork, Pure or Vitalite in the UK) OR 60ml sunflower oil
175ml non-dairy milk (any)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp natural vanilla paste or extract
175g plain flour
175g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the frosting:
225g icing sugar
60g vegan butter
2 tbsp (30ml) non-dairy milk
1 tsp natural vanilla paste or extract
Vegan sprinkles – if you can find any (I have a confession: The sprinkles you see on the main picture for this post are not vegan. They have been lurking at the back of the cupboard for years and I didn’t even think to check until afterwards. Oops! Vegan sprinkles do exist though, have a rummage on Google.
Make sure your oven is preheated to 180c/350f/gas mark 4 before you start. Place the vegan butter in a glass jug and gently melt in the microwave (stir every 10 seconds, it won’t take long) then stir in the milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Simply pour the wet ingredients on to the dry and quickly combine. I like to use a little wire hand-whisk for this as I find it does the job most efficiently but any spatula will be fine. As soon as the batter is reasonably smooth and there are no visible ‘dry’ bits remaining, it’s ready.
Pour the mixture evenly into the 12 cupcake cases and get it straight into the oven. Bake for around 24 minutes – the top of the cupcakes should look golden and spring back to the touch. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes before gently removing the cakes. Let them cool completely on the rack before attempting to ice.
To Make The Frosting:
You’ll need a mixer (preferably one with a paddle attachment) for this, but it’s very straightforward: simply place everything in the bowl, combine on a slow speed then turn up to high for about five minutes until you have a fluffy frosting. Scoop into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle for swirly cupcakes or use a small palette knife for more minimalist, elegant cupcakes. Scatter sprinkles with wild abandon!