1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
2 large eggs room temperature
1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil you can also use vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract use pure, not imitation
2/3 cup whole milk
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean. (For those of you who are new to using vanilla beans, check out this video to learn how to get the seeds out of the bean.)
Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you'll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquid. (Don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. It's supposed to be that way.)
Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. The cupcakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean. They should not turn a golden brown. If they are not done, test again in two minutes. If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes.
When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don't own a cooling rack) to cool.
How High to Fill Cupcake Liners
The height you should fill a cupcake liner varies by cupcake recipe. I strongly recommend baking a test cupcake if you are trying a new recipe:
Fill one cupcake liner halfway and bake according to the recipe.
See how high the cupcake rises. Some recipes donít rise at all, while others will double in size.
Use the test cupcakeís height to determine whether you should fill the remaining cupcakes more or less than halfway.
Bonus: You get to eat the test cupcake!
TO MAKE A CAKE INSTEAD OF CUPCAKES
Right after step number 8 in the instructions (beating the eggs into the flour mixture), I recommend scraping the stand mixer bowl. I didnít the first time I made this and had a significant amount of unmixed flour and lumpy butter.
The recipe yields about 3 1/4 cups of cake batter. So, I divided the batter into two 8-inch round cake pans, using just over 1 1/2 cups per pan. While a perfect dome is essential in a cupcake recipe, itís not always the best result for a cake maker. I adore this recipe so much that I didnít want to waste one single crumb, so I used a number of tricks to help create a level cake. Every trick, that is, except leveling the cake with a knife. Did I mention that I didnít want to waste a single crumb? In the end there was still a slight dome, but that is easy enough to work with.
I baked the cake at 350 degrees for 19 minutes in my convection oven. I recommend checking the cake at 18 minutes; simply insert a toothpick into the cake and if it comes out clean the cake is done. Make sure the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan as well.
Allow cakes to cool to room temperature in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack.
Since this cake has such a beautiful fine crumb, I chilled my layers prior to frosting. If the cake is too soft when applying frosting, it can tear and crumble. I wanted to avoid that at all costs with this masterpiece!