(Adapted from a yellow cake recipe in Cook’s Illustrated)
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/8 cup sifted cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1 stick butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 tsp orange extract
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake pan with liners.
Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla with fork in small bowl; set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running at lowest speed, add butter one piece at a time; mix until butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, 30 to 40 seconds after all butter is added. Add about 1/2 cup of egg mixture and mix at lowest speed until incorporated, 5 to 10 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add remaining egg mixture in slow steady stream, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and thoroughly scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Beat on medium-high until thoroughly combined and batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds longer. Stir in the orange extract by hand.
Divide the batter equally among the cupcake liners. Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until the tops are light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center cupcakes comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for ten minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan. Cool completely on a rack before icing (say, with leftover Chocolate Satin Frosting).