This Vanilla Cupcake is just sensational with filled Cherry Compote and topped with the easiest and smooth Swiss meringue buttercream.
FAULTS IN CAKE BATTER
The cake mixture is made from a method called the "creaming" method, where butter are beat together with sugar until they are well aerated, which is what gives the cake a fluffy texture when baked.
The tricks for a successful cake is to ensure that the butter is at a consistency where it can be aerated and still able to hold on to it before it is baked. Some of the things that you may want to bear in mind for a successful cake batter is as follow:
1. Ensure that the butter is at room temperature, is cold and pliable, not rock hard nor so soft that it melts in your hands when touched. The ideal temperature for room temperature butter is between 14˚C - 20˚C.
2. Ensure that all other ingredients are not too cold, such as the eggs and milk. If you have been storing the eggs in the fridge, just remove them to room temperature 2 hours prior to using. Alternatively, to expedite the process, you can place the eggs, still in its shell in a bowl of warm water to bring it to room temperature rapidly. The eggs should not feel cold in your hands.
3. Before adding in the milk to the cake batter, gently heat the milk to lukewarm (approximately 40˚C) and be careful not to heat the milk too much otherwise it will start to melt the butter and turn the batter liquid and get rid of all the air that you have worked so hard in developing during the creaming process.
4. Ensure to add the dry ingredients and milk alternatively. You should always start and end with the dry ingredients, this is just to ensure that if the milk starts to split the batter, the dry ingredients in the end will allow for it to absorb the extra liquid and bring it back together again. If you added milk last and the batter split, you will not have any remainder dry ingredients to do that.
TROUBLESHOOTING SPLIT CAKE BATTER
When making the cake batter, there may be a time when some ingredients can be slightly colder which can cause the cake batter to split. To remedy that, simply heat the batter gently by inducing warm air around the outside of the mixing bowl while continuously mixing. This will bring the batter back to room temperature and help the ingredients emulsify.
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
Swiss meringue buttercream is one of the several type of buttercream that has a silky smooth texture. The method of making a Swiss meringue buttercream is by whisking the egg whites and sugar over a hot water bath (Bain Marie) until the sugar are fully dissolved and is no longer grainy. The egg white mixture is then transferred into a mixer bowl and whisked until stiff peak and cooled slightly before butter are added to it.
When making Swiss meringue, it is important to bear in mind that the eggs are pasteurised during the preparation. Other than heating the egg whites mixture until all the sugar has dissolved, it is important to bring the mixture to between 60˚C - 70˚C. 60˚C is enough to help pasteurise the egg whites but anything above 70˚C or above can risk scrambling the eggs, so you need to be really careful.
Alternatively, you can use storebought pasteurised egg whites, which sadly is not widely available in Australia.
TROUBLESHOOTING SWISS MERINGUE
During the process of preparing the buttercream, two things are likely to happen and can easily be remedied.
Meringue starts to split when adding in the butter
One of the reason that the meringue will start to split when adding in the butter is when you added the butter too quickly. We have to remember that the meringue consist a high percentage of water content from the egg whites and will need time to absorb the fat from the butter. If butter is added too quickly, this can overwhelm the meringue and cause it to split. Another reason for the buttercream to split is if the butter is too cold. Therefore it is important that the butter is cold and of a pliable consistency which sits around 14˚C to 20˚C.
Meringue becomes soupy after adding in the butter
The reason why the buttercream becomes soupy is likely because the butter was added into the meringue when it is still too hot. The meringue should be below 30˚C before adding in the cold but pliable butter.
If you happen to end up with a soupy buttercream, do not fret, as this can easily be fixed. All you need to do is by simply putting the bowl of buttercream into the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes to chill it slightly then whisk it again over the mixer until they come together to a buttercream consistency.
Yield: 12 regular size cupcakes / 24 mini cupcakes
115g Unsalted Butter - room temperature
150 g Caster Sugar
5 g Vanilla Bean Paste
100g Eggs - room temperature
5 g Baking Powder
2 g Salt
160 g Plain Flour
120g Full cream Milk - Warm (not hot)
* For the mini cupcakes, I use a 40mm diameter pan with 20mm depth.
100g Cherry Puree
100g Caster Sugar
4g Pectin NH
10g Lemon Juice
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
105 g Egg Whites -room temperature
200g Caster Sugar
5 g Vanilla Bean Paste
1 g Salt
220g Unsalted Butter
FOR THE VANILLA CAKE
1. Cream the room temperature butter, caster sugar and vanilla bean paste together until they are light and airy with a paddle attachment in a stand mixer bowl. Mixing time is approximately 2 - 3 minutes on medium speed.
In a seperate bowl, sift together the plain flour and baking powder. Add in the salt.
2. Whisk the eggs to break them up then gradually add in the eggs while continuously whipping the butter mixture, only adding in the next addition of eggs until the mixture are well emulsified.
Note: Ensure that the eggs are at room temperature to prevent the mixture from splitting.
3. Gently warm the milk in the microwave. Ensure that the milk is Luke warm (around 40˚C) but not hot to touch.
4. Starting with the sifted dry ingredients, add 1/3 into the butter mixture, alternating with the warm milk and continue to alternate ensuring that you end with the dry ingredients.
5. Continue to mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
Note: If you see a sign of your mixture splitting, you can gently heat the mixture from around the outside of the bowl with a hair dryer, in a small burst and continue to mix until they look smooth again. You want to just gently heat the mixture and not melt the butter.
6. Line the muffin pan with individual patty pan. Fill the cavity half way. Bake in the pre heated oven for 15 minutes or when you touch the top, it feels firm.
7. Remove from the oven and transfer the cupcakes onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
Set aside for the final assembly.
FOR THE CHERRY COMPOTE
1. Place the cherry puree and 1/2 of the sugar into a pot and bring to a boil.
In a seperate bowl, mix the remainder of the sugar and pectin together.
2. Once the puree mixture comes to a boil, gradually sprinkle in the pectin mixture and continue to whisk.
3. Once all the pectin has been added, continue to boil while continuously whisking for 1 minutes.
Transfer into a jug, cover with cling film and leave to completely cool and set.
FOR THE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
1. Bring a pot of water to a mere simmer.
2. In a seperate bowl that can sit on top of the pot, whisk together the egg whites and sugar and heat over the pot of warm water while continuously whisking until it reaches 60˚C - 65˚C. Ensure that the base of the pot is not touching the water to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
To test if the egg whites mixture is ready, if rubbed between your fingers, the sugar should be fully dissolved and do not feel grainy.
3. Transfer the egg whites mixture into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk over high speed until it comes to stiff peak and cools. The meringue should be below 30˚C.
4. Cut the cold but pliable butter to cubes then add into the cooled meringue slowly, only adding more butter when the mixture has come together. Continue to add the butter and whisk until they come to a buttercream consistency.
Note: If the mixture looks too soft after adding all the butter, place the bowl into the fridge to 15 minutes to cool and then whisk it again on high speed. If the mixture starts to split, induce heat around the mixer bowl on warm heat with a hair dryer or a heat gun, being careful not to induce too much heat which can melt the butter too much.
5. Transfer the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip ( I use a 15mm star tip).
1. Using a 10mm plain pastry tip to remove and create a cavity in the centre of each cupcake.
2. Pipe the cherry compote into the cavity.
3. Pipe the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream on top and finish with fresh fruits.