3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (12 Tbsp.) pure vegetable shortening (I used butter flavored)**
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (For high altitude--375 degrees F.) Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. (You will probably have enough batter left for 4 or 5 extra cupcakes.)
Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the shortening and sugar until very light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl down after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.
Starting and ending with the dry ingredients, add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk. Only beat until combined. Remove bowl from mixer base and scrape the sides and bottom with a large silicone or rubber spatula to make sure all the ingredients are completely incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the paper-lined cups.
Bake only one pan at a time for 15 minutes, checking after 12-13 minutes. Cupcakes should be lightly golden and springy to the touch.
Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Decorate as you wish.
*NOTE: You can certainly use butter. The cupcakes may be a bit drier, but will have better flavor.*
Basic Powdered Sugar Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract, optional
a little milk, for thinning out the frosting
Beat the butter at high speed with an electric mixer. Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and the extracts (if using). Beat until light and fluffy. Add the remaining powdered sugar alternating with a little bit of milk (no more than 1-2 tsp. at a time), until you reach the desired texture.
Tint pink if you wish!