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White Velvet Butter Cupcakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum


For the most part, I was never very good at baking cakes. I had my specialties, but for basic cakes and cupcakes, I wasn’t pleased with the results I typically produced. So I did some studying. It turns out there’s a whole lot of science that goes into baking cakes. And math, like the potential difference in the quality of a baked good when using the weight measurements of ingredients versus the traditional volume measurements of ingredients.

One of the chemistry-like requirements I discovered was that room temperature butter means butter that registers between 65 to 67 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Another is that, technically, cake batter is an emulsion that holds millions of air bubbles. Who knew??

Evidently Rose Levy Beranbaum knows. This recipe, from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes cookbook, is actually an untraditional method for making a white cake batter/emulsion. But it is an effective one. Just ask my daughter, Georgia, who proudly took most of these little gems back to school with her–not minding at all the fact that she left her father with only a mere few to enjoy for the week.

White Velvet Butter Cupcakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum


For this recipe, and whenever possible, I highly recommend using a kitchen scale and measuring by weight instead of volume. Not only will your baked good achieve a more consistent result, it’s also a much easier way to bake.


Makes 14 to 16 cupcakes

Ingredient Volume Weight
3 large egg whites, at room temperature ¼ cup plus 2 tbs 3.2 ounces
Milk ⅔ cup, divided 5.6 ounces
Pure vanilla extract 1½ tsp .
Cake flour 2 cups, sifted into cup and leveled 7 ounces
Superfine sugar (or granulated) 1 cup 7 ounces
Baking powder 2¼ tsp plus ⅛ tsp .
Salt ½ tsp .
Unsalted butter (65° to 75°F) 8 tbs (1 stick) 4 ounces

butter at just the right temperature

  • Set 15 cupcake liners in muffin pans or custard cups (I used a cupcake pan).
  • Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites, 3 tbs of the milk, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds.  Add the butter and the remaining milk and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. 

  • Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1½ minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

cupcake batter

  • Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  

cupcake batter

  • Use a number 30 ice cream scoop or a spoon to place the batter (1.5 to 1.7 ounces, if you’d like to use your scale) into the prepared cupcake liners, smoothing the surfaces evenly with a small metal spatula.  The liners will be about three-quarters full.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers.
  • Let the cupcakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove them from the pans and set them on a wire rack.  Cool completely.

The taller cupcake is from this recipe. The other one is my low carb cupcake and icing recipe. Both are worthy culinary subjects!

*You can bake this as a 1-layer cake in a 9-inch pan lined with parchment and coated with cooking spray and flour.  Increase the baking powder to 2½ plus ⅛ tsp.  Bake 30 to 40 minutes in a 350° preheated oven.

Frost these cupcakes with my Best Chocolate Icing OR slice them in half (like a biscuit) and fill with lightly sweetened fruit. Replace the top half and top with more fruit and sweetened whipped cream.

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