Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr
12 servings (serving size: 1 cupcake)

Unlike their full-fat cousins, which get their softness from oil and butter, light cakes rely less on fat and more on sugar and liquids. More sugar minimizes the development of gluten proteins (the primary source of toughness in cakes), but it can also cause excess browning, especially if dairy products are present. Pull the cake from the oven when a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs still clinging to it.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°.

Step 2

Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Increase speed to high; beat for 1 minute.

Step 3

Weigh flour. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through cinnamon), stirring well. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating until just combined. Stir in 1/3 cup walnuts.

Step 4

Place 12 muffin cup liners in muffin cups; divide batter evenly among cups. Bake at 350° for 19 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. (Cupcakes will look slightly pale.) Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

Step 5

Place cream of tartar and egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Combine maple sugar, 1/4 cup water, and dash of salt in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 238°. Gradually pour hot sugar syrup into egg white mixture, beating until stiff peaks form. Spread about 3 rounded tablespoonfuls frosting over each cupcake. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons nuts.

Ratings & Reviews

JennyLiz's Review

March 21, 2012

purpleroses898's Review

August 07, 2011
I just made these cupcakes about 1 hour ago.....please use less sugar than the receipe calls for!!! I have a super sweet "tooth" and found these cupcakes way too sweet!! I may have to throw them out, my husband also says they are too sweet....On the positive side, they came out nice and moist..

tinkabelle's review

June 19, 2015
I have made them twice now and my family love them.  Maple sugar is not easy to come by in Australia, so I used maple syrup instead. Didn't have a candy thermometer either, so just guessed cooking temps and time.  But I just love that frosting...yummmmy.  I didn't find the cupcakes too sweet, but I used raw sugar.  Don't know if that makes a difference?  My only query is: Do the cupcakes need to be refridgerated due to the raw egg whites in the frosting?