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Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream

I like this vanilla cake recipe for three big reasons: the cake is light and fluffy, the cake is moist, and the cake is super easy to make. Using cake flour means that the crumb of this cake is very light and fluffy, while the oil and buttermilk ensure that the cake is moist. This cake does not require butter, so very little forethought is needed before whipping this cake up (no need to remember to leave out butter to soften).

I have other vanilla cakes that use butter for their fat instead of oil. These cakes are delicious, but they tend to be slightly denser and suffer from drying out more easily. By using oil, this cake comes out very light, moistness is all but guaranteed and you can refrigerate these cupcakes and even eat them cold without affecting their crumb texture. (If you refrigerate a butter based cake and eat it cold, I have learned from experienced, the cake tastes dry because the butter solidifies. You have to allow a butter based cake to come back to room temperature before enjoying it or else the cake suffers.) Butter based cakes are rich and delicious, but I like oil based cakes when I am aiming for a moist, fluffy and light crumb.

This cake is lovely with vanilla cream cheese frosting, but I particularly like frosting cakes opposite their flavor. For chocolate cupcakes, I invariably frost with vanilla-flavored buttercream, and frosting this cake with chocolate cream cheese buttercream brought me back to my childhood birthday sheet cakes.

Again, this frosting is a snap to prepare- you do have to remember to soften you butter and cream cheese. If you haven’t planned ahead, I recommend microwaving them in a heat proof bowl on half power for 10 seconds at a time, checking carefully throughout. Once the butter is melted or the cream cheese is cooked, you’ll have to bust out new ones, so take care. 

These are great cupcakes for birthdays, bake sales, bringing into work as office treats, or for now reason at all! Bake up a batch and snarf one down!

Vanilla Cake:
2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup butter milk
1/2 cup canola oil (vegetable oil also works)
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with paper liners and set aside. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream together the eggs, vanilla bean paste and sugar. Whisk in the oils and milks.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the lined muffin tins, and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream:
2 sticks of softened butter
4 ounces of softened cream cheese
3/4 cup cocoa powder
4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream


In a large bowl with an electric mixer of stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the vanilla bean paste and combine. One cup at a time, add the powdered sugar while beating. Sieve in the cocoa powder and beat the whole mixture for 5 minutes, until lighter in color. Add the whipping cream and beat another five minutes, until spreadable and fluffy.

To frost: fill a piping bag with fitted with a star tip with the frosting and pipe a generous amount of frosting. Devour!


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