pinch me

It’s National Vanilla Cupcake Day. I know this because not one, not two, but three different people have e-mailed to tell me so. Is this some sort of sign? I’m not sure exactly what it means, but I guess it really doesn’t matter, because I just happen to have a vanilla cupcake recipe that I am smitten with. So much so that I really don’t have eyes for any other.

A few years ago, my husband Mark and I took and impromptu trip to Savannah, Georgia to fend off the end-of-winter-blues. We spent a sun drenched week lounging in the lush public squares in the historic district – there are 21 of them, and I’m pretty sure we hit them all.

Midway through the trip we also made an excursion to the weekly farmer’s market. I believe we bought a hunk of local cheese and a baguette to round out yet another perfect afternoon spent relaxing in front of an azalea rimmed fountain. I also picked up a post card from the bread stand at the market. It was a photo of an old fashioned pink ballerina cake topper, advertising the Back in the Day Bakery – and it caught my attention. I stuffed it away in the book I was reading and didn’t think of it again until our last day in town. We were facing the standard “what to do with the last few hours before you have to catch a cab to the airport” dilemma. And then, I remembered the bakery.

There was a small map printed on the back of the post card and it showed the bakery residing just beyond Forsyth Park at the south end of the historic district. Having walked the entire week, this seemed like an easily attainable goal. Unbeknownst to us, however, the scale of the map changed somewhat upon leaving the historic district. We walked, and walked, and walked – to the point where sheer determination alone to find it set in. Plane? What plane?

But we eventually reached our destination, and the minute I crossed over the threshold, I knew I was at home. It was everything you would imagine a place called “Back in the Day…” might be. The decor, the details – it was all so entirely perfect. We ordered cupcakes and coffee and settled in at a small table to take in the atmosphere. And then – much to my delight – the bakery owner, Cheryl, came out from the back and introduced herself. I don’t know, maybe it was me going gaga over everything in the display case that clued her in. Or maybe she overheard me proclaiming to Mark that we should seriously consider relocating to Savannah so I could get a job at the bakery. Either way, here’s where the story gets especially good. As if chatting with her about baking and the bakery business wasn’t enough – she left me with her vanilla cupcake recipe. Pinch me! It was one of the most delightful cupcakes I had ever enjoyed and I was thrilled to have the recipe. Perhaps it was the marathon walk to get to them, but having made them several times since, I think they can hold their own just fine.

One of my favorite things about this recipe – besides the obvious outcome – is the unusual prep. She lets the mixer do the sifting and there is no creaming of the butter and eggs involved. It all gets added straight to the flour. I usually make my frosting a light shade of pink as a nod to my first “official” Old Fashioned, Back in the Day cupcake. This is a fairly large recipe. I typically halve it and end up with about 14 or so standard cupcakes, or 48 two-inch mini cupcakes. What follows is the full recipe – after all, it IS National Vanilla Cupcake Day. Go a little crazy.

Old Fashioned Cupcakes

1 3/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325º F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. Combine in a bowl both flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix on low speed until combined for about 3 minutes. Add in cubed butter, mixing until just coated with flour. Add eggs 1 at a time until combined. Slowly add milk and vanilla to batter until completely mixed scraping down the bowl as you mix. Scoop batter into baking cups filling about 2/3 full. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes (mini cupcakes – which I am especially fond of – require less time). Cool and decorate with Old Fashioned Frosting.

Old Fashioned Frosting

2 sticks butter, room temperature
8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or other flavoring

Cream softened butter and add 4 cups sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat with paddle attachment until smooth gradually add the rest of sugar to reach your desired frosting consistency.

3 Responses to “pinch me”


  1. 1 Julie November 15, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Nearly a week post-Vanilla Cupcake Day, we used 2 percent milk, all-purpose flour (only) and cream cheese in the frosting and tonight make vanilla cupcakes. Mmmmm. And in honor of you Jill and the Back in the Day Cafe, did make the frosting pink.


  1. 1 fill me « Garlic Pig Trackback on February 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm
  2. 2 recovery mode « Garlic Pig Trackback on March 19, 2012 at 10:34 am

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