125g unsalted butter (softened)
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups SR flour
1/2 cup milk
Cream the butter and sugar together - I am an advocate of beating the butter by itself for a couple of minutes, and then slowly adding in the sugar, about a tablespoon at a time.
I recently learnt that baking soda and baking powder can't create bubbles, rather, they raise the cake by expanding the bubbles that already exist, so it's really important to create lots of bubbles when you cream the butter and the sugar, because once you add the eggs you can't create more bubbles.
Beat the essence in, and then beat the eggs in, one at a time. Then stir in half the (sifted) flour, half the milk, half the flour, half the milk - stir, don't beat.
Put into a muffin tray, lined with cupcake papers and bake at 190 degrees (celcius) for as long as your oven takes.
When you take them out of the oven leave them in the tray for a few minutes, but flip them onto their sides (means the bottoms stay crispy) - it's a Martha trick that I have seen done.
- change the essence: I love almond essence in these cakes. I also have eaten cupcakes made with rose water, and am keen to try orange blossom water.
- use orange juice instead of milk (or a combination of citrus juices), add a little zest to intensify the citrus flavour
- try using buttermilk, rather than regular milk - you will end up with thicker batter, so you will need to watch your cooking time
- bake the cupcakes in flat bottomed ice cream cones