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“If at first you don’t succeed,

April 21, 2010

try, try again.”   

-W.C. Fields

I had an epiphany.  Don’t ask me what led to this lightbulb-on moment, but I was thinking about something and suddenly realized “I’m a Cheesehead.  The Culinary Cheesehead! Why didn’t I think of that before I started my blog?!” 

(Just in case I’ve completely lost you and you’re not from Wisconsin, Wisconsinites are often referred to as Cheeseheads.  Apparently, it was meant as a derogatory term spewed from our neighbors to the South because of our sports rivalries (Brewers vs. Cubs, Packers vs. Bears).  But…we Wisconsinities aren’t afraid to laugh at ourselves.  Clearly…because Cheesehead has become a common term, and even a line of clothing!) 

Image from Wikipedia

So I thought about it for a few weeks.  Then I asked some friends of mine what they thought.  I even took an informal poll on a cooking message board I frequent.  To change the blog name… or not, that became the question!  (Yes, I took it very seriously. 😉  If you know me, you know I take most things I set out to do very seriously.  Refer to previous post on my perfectionism.)

After thinking it through, I felt changing the blog to the Culinary Cheesehead just felt more me, so I’m giving this blog-naming a second try. 

It seems the best of things sometimes take more than one attempt.  Take these Vanilla Bean cupcakes from Annie’s Eats, for instance.  

After making several chocolate-based cakes, I felt I should add a basic vanilla cake recipe to my repertoire.  I’ve never made one from scratch.  I realize that’s shocking, but vanilla has always seemed kind of boring to me.  This recipe relies on something I’ve never worked with before – actual vanilla beans! 

My opportunity came at Easter.  I made a cheesecake-stuffed dark chocolate cake at the request of my mother-in-law.  It turned out significantly better than when I made it for my birthday, but I wanted a non-chocolatey option. 

(Believe it or not, there are folks out there who just aren’t ga-ga about chocolate.  Yes, they’re rare.  No, I don’t get them either.  But they’re out there… and they give me reason to explore alternative cake flavors. :-))

When I began baking these cupcakes, I was giddy with excitement to see the end result based on Annie’s claim of pretty batter and the use of vanilla beans and cake flour.

Things went smoothly.  The batter came together quickly and easily.  I’m sure there was more than a bit of bounce in my step as I put the first batch of cupcakes into the oven.

“Your overconfidence is your weakness.”

-Luke Skywalker, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Oh, if only I’d heeded Master Skywalker’s warning!

As the first batch began to puff up into heavenly little cake clouds, I began scooping the second batch.  I noticed a few clumps in a scoop or two… and the scoops became more clumps than batter shortly thereafter.  I dug into my batter to find that I hadn’t mixed everything entirely!  There, at the bottom of my KA mixing bowl, a thick bog of sugar and butter lurked.

The first batch – nearly half-baked – wouldn’t have the proper distribution of butter or sugar throughout, necessary to make yummy little delights!

The second batch, after I made sure everything was thoroughly mixed, came out beautifully.

These were lovely cupcakes… definitely a great non-chocolate alternative!  An ivory-colored cake sprinkled with vanilla flecks!  I paired them with a Swiss buttercream (recipe to follow), and Mr. S said these were the lightest cupcakes I’d ever made (even more so than the champagne cupcakes I’d made for New Year’s Eve.)

Definitely a keeper!

(It apparently wasn’t my night for baking when I made these cupcakes, because when I set out to tackle the Swiss Buttercream I was making for the first time as well, that didn’t work either!  Thankfully, Mr. S was out picking up dinner and brought home more sugar for me to “try, try again” on the frosting as well!)

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Source: Annie’s Eats, adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride      

  • 3 c. cake flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 16 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1¼ c. buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 T. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F and line cupcake pans with paper liners.  (FYI: This recipe does make ~28-30 cupcakes, so you’ll need to reline a pan unless you have 3 pans.)  Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt to combine and set aside.

Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer.  Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and use a knife to scrape the seeds from the pod, adding to the butter.  Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high speed until light and creamy in color (approximately three minutes).  Scrape the sides of the bowl and continue beating for an additional minute.

Mix 1/4 cup sugar into the butter mixture and beat for one minute; repeat until all sugar is incorporated.  Add one egg at a time, mixing and then scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.      

Whisk the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup (for ease of pouring later).      

With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding some of the dry ingredient mixture with some of the buttermilk/vanilla mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix just until incorporated before  scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Mix for 15 seconds longer.        

Fill each of the cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (Mine didn’t take that long, so watch them carefully.)  Cool in the pans 5-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Bake remaining batter, as necessary.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2010 7:41 pm

    I just threw the last of my vanilla beans away as they went bad, but I am planning to buy more and this will be one of the first recipes I make.


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