Cupcakes 101: Vanilla

Brimming with vanilla flavor, from the delicate crumb to the sweet frosting, nothing is simpler than a classic vanilla cupcake.

Whether I am looking for a crowd pleasing treat or I want something simple and quick, this vanilla cupcake recipe is easily the best of both worlds. The method for making this cupcake is precisely why I enjoy it: it’s easy. Combine the wet ingredients, combine the dry, and mix them all together. You need no more kitchen gadgets than a whisk and two bowls.

In fact, many of my cupcake recipes stem from this one.

A couple tips:

  • This recipe can be halved if you only need 12 cupcakes. It can be quartered if you only need 6.
  • From many personal experience of making and eating classic American buttercream frosting: make sure to use salted butter; it’s the easiest way to get the right amount of salt to enhance the sweet, rich frosting.

Vanilla Cupcakes yield: 24 cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 six-ounce containers vanilla yogurt (not greek)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line two muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, combine the yogurt, butter, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in the eggs, one at a time just until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until it comes together. Honestly, you can mix these cupcakes by hand, and they work wonderfully. Using a 1/4 cup measure, fill each cupcake liner and bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let them cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting yield: enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted to remove lumps
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 4-5 tbsp heavy cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter for at least 3-5 minutes on medium-high speed, until nearly white in color. Add in 3 cups of the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, mixing on low to incorporate. Increase speed and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes longer. Add the remaining 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar alternately with the cream, beginning and ending with the sugar.*

Transfer to a piping bag or spread generously on cupcakes.

*I find this alternating-cream-and-sugar strategy works well to get just the right texture and sweetness of the frosting. Feel free to add more or less sugar – about a 1/2 cup either way – depending on your personal taste.

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