It seems like every few years, our culture picks one particular ingredient or food to villainize.
When I was a kid, fat was the big villain. Americans were obsessed with fat-free products, margarine, and egg whites. The craze resulted in food companies adding all sorts of far-from-natural ingredients to food products in order to make them appealing to the consumer. Natural fat=flavor
After the attack on fat, I remember cane sugar (and other natural sweeteners) became an ingredient to avoid at all costs. Artificial sweeteners, like Splenda and Equal, became the go-to alternatives.
Spoiler Alert: These not-so-natural, highly-addictive alternative sweeteners aren’t so great for human (or animal) bodies. If you’re still on the fence about these sweeteners, do a quick Google search about the dangers of artificial sweeteners. We probably should have known that a substance formulated in labs versus the beehive or a field wouldn’t be so welcomed by our bodies. Did we learn anything from the invention of margarine?
In recent years, avoiding all animal products, including honey, has become all the rage. And while I agree that we need to be picky about the kind of animal products we consume (doing our best to source meat, eggs, and/or dairy from properly-raised animals), I wonder how long this fad will last.
The same goes for the gluten-free trend. Now there are folks who truly can’t consume gluten, but for most of our culture avoiding gluten has become more of a fad than a total food lifestyle change. Big processed food companies are even jumping on board with this trend, and I suspect it’s not because they’re concerned about people’s health ($$$). Instead of focusing on quality grains (like ancient grains), real ingredients, and grain preparation methods (like soaking and sprouting wheat), the focus is on creating gluten-free processed food (and even fast food) options.
I believe we’re missing the bigger picture by villainizing (real) foods and(real) ingredients. Our focus should be on getting back to the basics with our food. How does this happen?
We start sourcing real ingredients and getting back into our kitchens. When we do this, we know exactly what goes into our food and how it’s prepared. We develop a deep respect and appreciation for the real ingredients we use to make our food. It’s that simple.
I absolutely love what Harry Balzer, an expert in food consulting, eating behaviors, and diet trends, says in Cooked, “Eat anything you want. Enjoy all of your food. Anything you want. You want apple pie? Have a whole apple pie tonight. You wanna have cookies with that apple pie? And ice cream with that apple pie? I’ll allow you to eat all the cookies, all the ice cream, all the pie you can have tonight. I’m just gonna ask you to do one thing. Make all of them.”
With this mindset, non-essential foods (the foods made to nourish our bodies on a daily basis) become special treats, because they require extra time and effort. We must source quality ingredients, mix the ingredients, heat the oven, and then wait for our treats to cool.
I think this idea is so fitting for today’s recipe. A recipe that calls for cane sugar, lots of butter, and even more sugar in the form of powdered sugar–ingredients that are many times looked at as villains. These ingredients come together to create a special treat for celebrations in our home. A treat that’s made in our kitchen with real, quality ingredients.
As Michael Pollan says (in Cooked–I just watched this series again), “I don’t want to lecture people into the kitchen, I want to lure them into the kitchen with pleasure! That’s what brought me into the kitchen.” Amen, Michael, Amen! Let’s stop villainzing (real) food and ingredients. Instead, let’s find pleasure in real ingredients and homemade treats and meals.
Homemade Vanilla (Einkorn) Cupcakes and Buttercream Frosting
Vanilla Einkorn Cupcakes:
- 1/2 cup whole milk (122g)
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 8 TB unsalted butter (1/2 cup//105g-before melting) melted and cooled
- 3/4 cup organic cane sugar (165g)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose einkorn flour (175g)*
- 1 TB arrowroot flour starch (7.5g)**
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 8 TB unsalted butter (1/2 cup//105g) softened to room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 2 1/4 cups organic powdered sugar (305g)
- splash whole milk or heavy cream
For the Vanilla Einkorn Cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake/muffin liners.
- In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, using a hand-mixer, beat together the melted butter and sugar for 30 seconds on medium speed. Add the remaining wet ingredients (milk and vinegar mixture, eggs, and vanilla extract) and beat for 30 seconds on low-medium speed.
- Add the dry ingredients to a sifter/sieve/strainer. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- On low-medium speed (so the flour doesn't fly all over the counter), carefully beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients for about 30 seconds. Don't over-beat the batter--just mix until the ingredients are combined.
- Scoop the batter into the individual liners in the muffin pan. Don't overfill the individual liners with batter--about 1/4-1/3 of the way full is ideal. If you have any extra batter, go back and add a small amount to each cupcake, or if you don't want any "muffin tops" on your cupcakes, bake the extra batter as extra cupcakes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325F. Bake the cupcakes for about 20-22 minutes, until the the tops are firm and have a bit of a "spring" when touched.
- Allow the cupcakes to fully cool before frosting.
For the Buttercream Frosting:
- Using a hand-mixer, beat the butter, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt on medium speed until it's creamy and slightly fluffy.
- Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating the sugar and butter together. Continue until all the sugar is added.
- Finally, add the milk, a splash at a time, beating the frosting until you reach the desired consistency. Less milk results in a thicker frosting. More milk results in a fluffier frosting. Use as many splashes of milk as needed.
- Frost each cooled cupcake with the buttercream frosting. I use an ice cream scooper to scoop and drop the frosting on the cupcakes, and then level and spread the frosting with a knife.
- The frosted cupcakes can be kept at room temperature for several hours. Store any leftover cupcakes in the fridge.
You mentioned to a previous poster that the batter could possibly have been overbeat esp with the eggs in there.
i want to try these cupcakes.
what did you mean by that?
i know that einkorn flour shouldnt be overbeaten but is it the eggs aswell when baking with einkorn? how does overbeaten eggs affect the flour?
with normal flour the more you beat the more airy it gets?
also are these muffins or cupcakes?
what size approx pan should i get? should i get muffin pans or cupcake pans?
not sure the diff and what the hole should measure?
can i also leave the mixture waiting to do a second batch as i have small oven which fits one tray at a time or does it need to be baked immediately as i once heard?
Hey Harry, Einkorn doesn’t like to be worked too much. So you just need to mix, not beat the batter for a long time. That’s what I referring to with that comment. You can definitely leave the second batch out and waiting while the first tray bakes, then bake. I do this as well when I make a double batch of something like muffins and cupcakes. This is a cupcake recipe. You should use a standard-size muffin pan.
I made these for my son’s birthday last year and they were a huge hit! This year he asked if I could make the same recipe but as a cake. Do you know what adjustments I would have to make for a 9 inch cake? Thank you!
I would double the recipe for a two-tier cake or a taller 1 tier. I think it should work fine for just one 9 inch cake.
Very good! I’ve only made cupcakes one other time with einkorn and I’ve been reluctant to try again. I find baked goods to be more dense when made with einkorn. Not true for these – these were light and fluffy! Will and again!
Hey Melanie, I find the same thing can be true with einkorn. So glad you liked the cupcakes.
This has become our go to cake recipe. I’ve made it three different ways: as written, subbed potato starch arrowroot, and/or lemon juice for vinegar. All three ways turn out the same. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe!
That’s awesome, Amanda!!
“Best cupcakes Ive ever had” – My husband
This was my first time baking cupcakes and they were pretty easy and SO good. I honestly would compare them to “Sprinkles.”
Happy to have found this gem. Ill be making them for birthday parties now instead of buying them!
Yay, Chardea! That’s amazing. I’m so glad you guys are loving the cupcakes!
How long will these last in the fridge? I am making them today (Wednesday) and hoped they would last until this Saturday for a party.
Hey Courtney, I might try freezing them if they are made today and served on Saturday, although I haven’t actually frozen these before. Usually cupcakes will stay fresh (taste best) for about 3 days in the fridge. You might be okay with keeping them in the fridge until Saturday, particularly if they’re made tonight and served early Saturday.
AMAZING!! So good and sooo easy! I added sprinkles to my batter because well.. why not 😉 But even without them they would have been fantastic!
Yay, Sarah! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the cupcakes. What a great idea to add sprinkles.
Kristin quickly emailed me after my previous comment. She offered suggestions that lead to me making the perfect batch. These cupcakes will be a regular in my house now. Im so thankful and couldn’t be more pleased with the way she handled the situation.
I am forever a Live Simply fan.
Thank you so much, Julie! You made my day with the photo you sent over–I’m so glad they worked for you!
I’m such a big fan of live simply and I was so excited to make these for dessert, but I am sad to say I am extremely disappointed in these cupcakes. I made them twice today.
The first time I just sprayed the muffin pan with olive oil and I didn’t use cupcake liners. Well this was a disaster. The cupcakes overflowed and made a mess in my oven. I thought I’d try it again with cupcake liners and only fill them half way full. Unfortunately the second time was no better. They still overflowed and we’re sunken in middle.
I’m sad because they taste so yummy! It’s just EXTREMELY messy and not so attractive. I wasted expensive Kerrygold butter and einkorn flour.
After two failed batches of cupcakes, I was done in the kitchen. I didn’t even attempt to make the icing, so I can’t review that.
Oh no, Julie! I’m so sorry this recipe didn’t work for you. That’s my worst fear for a recipe and a reader to experience.
Hey Julie a little update so I’ll just add it here…
I just tested the recipe again, and can’t quite put my finger on what may have happened for you. Here are just my initial thoughts, without having been in your kitchen today 😉 so some may not apply. Just random thoughts to help troubleshoot…
1. The batter could possibly have been overbeat, particularly when the eggs are in there. It’s really easy to do. With this recipe, the mixing and beating is more about combining ingredients then heavily beating ingredients.
2. The 350F then to 325F should have helped with keeping the muffins in a dome as they rose versus sinking down. Maybe they needed a bit more baking time–ovens can vary slightly, so waiting for that spring in the tops is a good sign they are ready. The muffins won’t be big and puffy on top, but should have a rounded top versus a center that sinks in.
3. I’m not sure if the ingredients were weighed or measured, so I’ll throw this thought out ;). I highly recommend going with the weight measurement versus the volume measurement. I’m not sure this factored into the issues, but it’s always a safe start with baking recipes since it’s a more accurate/precise measurement.
4. The cupcakes will have a “muffin top” but shouldn’t spill over. I tried to think about the cause of this, but haven’t come up with any troubleshooting answers.
Again, I apologize for your experience. I hope your feedback and the troubleshooting notes above will help a future cupcake maker. I wish I could deliver you some cupcakes :).
I have to say that I LOVE your blog. Being a teenage boy, you can imagine I’m exposed to all of the food trends out there and there are a thousand fitness gurus online telling you which is best. I personally follow the French method of eating (Eat anything but everything in moderation) and it includes making most (about 95%. If I want a peanut butter, I haven’t reached the point of grinding my own) of your foods or buying them from specialty stores (No supermarket pastries, you pay the extra cash for quality at the bakery). It’s hard to find good blogs that stress this lifestyle save for the ones that are ABOUT the French eating habits. I think it’s great to make your own things, especially since with all that hard work, you’ll want to make them last!
Thank you so much, Nikolai!