Have you ever loved somebody so much that it felt like your heart was going to burst because it couldn't handle all the love that was in it? So much that all they have to do is smile and your world is a better place? So much that even when they drive you crazy and make you want to pull your hair out, you still miss them every second they're away? I have. I met him seven years ago. He is my first born nephew.
If you're an aunt, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Nieces and nephews are the most adorable beings to ever grace the universe with their presence. I remember when we first brought my nephew home from the hospital. He only took up 1/4 of the car seat. The moment I laid eyes on him, I was smitten. Nowadays, he's so tall (mashAllah), and quite annoying (I say that with love), but when he called me the other night and asked me to make him exactly 14 cupcakes for his school Eid party, I more than happily obliged. The simple fact that he came to me when he needed something done in the baking department pretty much won me over.
For a 7 year old, he's pretty darn food smart. I'm talking, won't refuse to eat cereal at my house if it has high-fructose corn syrup food smart. So instead of using boxed cake mix like I usually do, I opted to make him vanilla cupcakes from scratch. This was the only recipe I found out of about 50 that didn't call for butter. The weird part though, was that it called for vinegar. I'd never seen that before in a recipe and I'm still not sure what role the vinegar played, but the cupcakes came out so moist that even I couldn't believe that I had just made them from scratch.
They were fluffy and airy, and had just the right amount of sweetness. You could even pass on the frosting because of how delicious they were on their own. But the cake decorator in me just couldn't pass up an opportunity to decorate a baked good. What I failed to realize was that cupcakes take twice as long to decorate. Plus, there's less space to work with so unless you're going to pipe a simple swirl, everything else is just complicated. Like attempting to write Arabic calligraphy. Complicated.
I don't know if him and his classmates actually took the time to read what was written on the cupcakes. But for my non-Arabic readers out there, I wrote "Hajj Mabroor", which is a greeting for Muslims returning from Hajj. It basically wishes them an accepted Hajj. I thought it would be fitting since the kids would be having the cupcakes after their Mock Hajj at school.
adapted from We Choose Organic
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of vanilla powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare your cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside. Add the 1/2 teaspoon vinegar to the milk and set aside.
In another bowl, add the 2 eggs and mix with a handmixer. Add sugar and continue to mix for a minute. Add vanilla powder and vegetable oil and mix.
Add half of the flour mixture and beat on low speed. Then add half of the milk mixture and continue to beat on low speed. Repeat until everything is well blended.
Pour the batter into your prepared cupcake pan, filling the liners until 2/3 full. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let the cupcakes cool for a couple of minutes before removing them from the pan to the wire rack to cool.