To say that I love sprinkles would be an understatement. Chocolate sprinkles were always my favorite growing up, but I've come to enjoy the rainbow version recently too. To keep the situation in check, I pretty much only allow myself to have sprinkles with ice cream. Whether we're at home or out at the ice cream parlor, I always drown my ice cream in loads of sprinkles! I guess I'm secretly a 5-year old at heart :)
Anyway, given my love of sprinkles, it's probably not terribly surprising that funfetti cake was among my first choices as a kid. If you've never had funfetti, it's basically just a white cake with rainbow sprinkles mixed into the batter. The sprinkles melt in the oven so you're left with dots of color throughout your cake. To the best of my recollection, the cake was usually topped with a vanilla frosting and then garnished with additional sprinkles. I can't even remember the last time I had funfetti cake from a box, but I've been eager to try this homemade version for a while. I just needed the right occasion...
Fortunately, a perfect opportunity presented itself over the weekend - Shane had some friends over to play Rock Band, and I knew I could count on them to help eat the cupcakes. This white cake recipe is a bit unusual. Most cakes call for creaming the butter and sugar together, adding eggs and then alternating dry and liquid ingredients, but here the dry ingredients plus the sugar are mixed, the butter is cut in until the mixture is sandy, and finally the eggs and liquid ingredients are added. As a result, the cupcakes bake up with a really lovely light, fluffy texture. They are fairly sweet (thanks to the amount of sugar in the recipe as well as the added touch of sweetness from the sprinkles), but no one here complained. Just a few hints - don't overfill the wells of the cupcake pans (1/2 to 2/3 at most). It's a bad habit of mine and I'm glad I didn't do it with these as they do rise quite a bit and there's nothing worse than cake batter all over the bottom of your oven. Also, the site where I found the original recipe notes that the rod-shaped sprinkles melt best in the batter; you probably won't have as much luck with the round, ball-shaped sprinkles.
As for the frosting, once I decided on vanilla, it was simply a matter of choosing from among the many recipes out there. Bridget over at The Way the Cookie Crumbles is famous for her comparison posts and I was psyched to find a vanilla frosting comparison there. Her favorite was an easy buttercream from Cook's Illustrated that had been among my contenders so I ran with it. The recipe calls for just a few ingredients - butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, heavy cream and salt - and once whipped together, the frosting has the perfect fluffy consistency. Another bonus? It pipes like a dream. I made 1/2 of the recipe below but if you like to mound your frosting on your cupcakes I'd recommend making 3/4. Mmmm, delicious nostalgia indeed!
from Baking Bites
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
Whisk the milk, egg whites, vanilla and almond extracts together in a measuring cup.
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed briefly to combine. Cut the butter into 6 pieces and add them to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until the mixture is coarse and sandy. Add milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl and continue beating for 20-30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the sprinkles.
Divide the batter evenly among the wells of the prepared pan - I wouldn't fill them more than 1/2 - 2/3 full, the cupcakes rise quite a bit in the oven. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and allow them to cool completely before frosting.
Makes 12 cupcakes
Quick Vanilla Buttercream
from Cook's Illustrated
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Stir the heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt together in a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the mixer on low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar a little at a time until it is completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then beat in the heavy cream mixture. Increase the mixer to medium speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
The frosting can be made a few days ahead and refrigerated. When you are ready to use it, let it come to room temperature and then beat briefly.
Makes 3 cups of frosting