I made some pretty fancy-pants cupcakes last Saturday. I am not a huge baker, and have been known to screw up something as simple as banana bread, so I’m not sure what had gotten into me to take on the challenge of a complicated Martha Stewart recipe. Honestly, I think I was just bored so I gave it a try.

The cupcake batter is simple, but it was the frosting that was a bit tricky. This buttercream frosting contains egg whites that have to be combined with sugar, a pinch of salt and whisked constantly in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water. After you do that the mixture is transferred to an electric mixture where it is supposed to rise up into soft, frosty peaks. I stared at this mixture for about 20 minutes waiting for it to rise and it never did. I totally screwed up and I think it is because I accidentally got a bit of egg yolk in the whites and thought I’d just go with it. Um, not so much.

I gave up about midnight after the frosting disaster and gave it another try the next morning. Success! And best of all, the cupcakes are adorable, aren’t they? The consistency of the frosting turned out perfectly.

I received some mixed reviews of these cupcakes. I actually thought they were great, they taste light and moist with just the right amount of sweetness. Kristin really liked them, and she is a pretty avid baker so I take her opinion of sweets pretty seriously. Erik (my hubby) liked them as well. A few of my coworkers thought they were a bit plain and that the frosting was a bit blah.
This recipe calls for about 10 pounds of butter, not really…but it does call for a ton of butter. I was quite shocked when I kept adding butter stick after butter stick, but I assure you, this recipe makes a lot of cupcakes (36 normal sized), hence the need for mucho butter. I made 12 normal sized about about 45 minis.

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Cupcakes

3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cupcake Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2. With an electric mixture on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated and scraing down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in vanilla.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer the tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto rack and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

4. To decorate cupcakes, transfer buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a large star-shaped tip. Pipe spirals of buttercream on top of each cupcake.

Buttercream Preparation

1. Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmerimg water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved.

2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool, about 10 minutes.

3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until all frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if usig the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freezae up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with a paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.