I had to throw out half of a birthday cake last week.
It was just a little boxed job my kids and I had baked for my mom in Missouri — we Facetimed with her to show off the cake and sing “Happy Birthday.” Modern love, I tell you — but we could only eat so many pieces before the cake started to mold. (Another side note: I love those boxed cake mixes from Duff Goldman. They always have a super moist crumb, and he shares great decorating ideas on the package.)
Michelle Fandrich has the same problem of sweet treats going to waste.
Her son has a severe nut allergy, and to avoid accidental exposure, she bakes him his own cupcake for birthday parties at school. Fandrich, who is @emmefandy on Instagram, doesn’t need an entire pan of cupcakes, just a handful.
After much experimentation in the kitchen, she’s been able to whittle down her favorite cake recipe from King Arthur so that it makes exactly three cupcakes.
A note about ingredients: Although the original recipe is from King Arthur, Fandrich doesn’t use their cake flour because it’s not certified nut-free. Cake flours from H-E-B and Swans Down, on the other hand, are made in nut-free facilities.
You’ll have to whisk one egg and then measure out 2 Tbsp., which will leave some extra that you’ll have to throw away, but that’s better than using three eggs total and throwing away whole cupcakes.
Fandrich says she hasn’t quite mastered making the exact amount of icing for three cupcakes. She either makes too little and can’t properly pipe it from a bag or she makes enough to properly pipe it and has some leftover. Her go-to buttercream recipe is William Sonoma’s Quick Chocolate Buttercream recipe, and she substitutes cocoa for the melted chocolate.
If you’re not worried about having extra frosting, Fandrich recommends cutting the recipe by half or a quarter. You can then store any extra icing in the fridge for the next round of baking, or, if you’re like me, for when you get a hankering for something sweet and swipe a fingerful.
Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes
1 1/4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/6 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cake flour
1/3 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. beaten egg
1 1/2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
1 or 2 drops of vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place 3 cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.
In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar with the back of a wooden spoon. Add flour and baking powder and stir to combine. Add egg and beat (by hand or with hand mixer) for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add yogurt and vanilla and beat for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Divide mixture evenly between cupcake liners. Bake for 17 to 25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of one comes out clean. Allow to cool and then decorate as desired. Makes 3 cupcakes.
— Michelle Fandrich, adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Tender White Cake recipe
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