A perfect vanilla cupcake topped with a fluffy vanilla buttercream frosting. So simple but perfect every time!
Every good baker needs a go to vanilla cupcake in their arsenal. And friends. This is it.
It’s funny isn’t that being called vanilla means plain and boring? Poor, poor vanilla. I mean being called vanilla should be like the highest compliment ever. Like being vanilla should equal being someone’s rock, go to person. Vanilla is the foundation for everythi-i-i-i-ing in desserts. I mean without vanilla, what would a chocolate chip cookie be? So not the same, am I right?
Yes, I would even pick a vanilla cupcake over these perfect chocolate cupcakes .Ok I mean I would eventually eat a chocolate cupcake but I’m going for the vanilla first people. But I feel like because vanilla is such a pure and simple flavor, unadorned, and just “take me as I am” it can sometimes fall flat. But I swear by these vanilla cupcakes.
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Baking Tools You Need To Make These Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes:
- Cupcake Pans – My favorite cupcake pans are these ones from Wilton and these ones from Chicago Metallic.
- Large Piping Tips – To get those professional looking cupcakes you need large cupcake tips. You could get a set like this one, or individual cupcake tips from Ateco (which are the ones I own).
- Greaseproof Cupcake Liners– I love the greaseproof ones so they still look nice after baking.
- Piping bags – You can use reusable piping bags or disposable piping bags (which is my preference). I prefer to use the 18-inch bags so I do not have to refill as often!
Vanilla perfection. These cupcakes are anything but boring. And the vanilla buttercream frosting on top is so darn creamy it’s crazy. But I’ve been known to go beyond the traditional buttercream and mix it up with a Swiss, Italian, French, or German buttercream– heck even an Ermine (flour) icing has found its way on top of these perfect little cupcakes.
I decided to top these cupcakes with cute little fondant flowers, but of course there ain’t nothing wrong with sprinkles folks.
So let’s get to baking these perfect vanilla cupcakes…
How To Make These Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
First this recipe starts with combining your cake flour and the rest of your dry ingredients. If you don’t have any cake flour you can make your own. Cake flour is lighter in protein content so it will result in a light and fluffy textured cupcake. You could use all purpose flour, but keep in mind this will change the result of the texture in the end.
In your stand mixer you want to cream your room temperature butter. It’s very important to have your butter at room temperature (about 65 Fahrenheit) just where you finger can slightly indent into the butter but still provide resistance. Definitely no melty spots here friends! If you forgot to take your butter out ahead of time (I do that all the time, trust me.) you can soften your butter quickly one of these 3 ways.
Once you have creamed your butter, it’s time to introduce the sugar. You want to introduce the sugar a little bit at a time so it has time to be incorporated into the butter. Properly softened butter is key so that it fully integrates with the sugar and enough air is introduced into the mixture during the creaming process. The sugar jobs is to basically punch holes into the butter. And those holes when introduced to the heat of the oven, expand helping to leaven your cupcake. If your butter is too cold, the air isn’t able to be introduced and you will have chunks of butter that did not mix well with the butter. And in the end, your cupcakes might just do the old sink on you when they come out of the oven. (insert a super sad emoji face here)
For more reasons on why your cupcakes sink in the middle and how to avoid it- click here!
This recipe calls for 5 eggs. Yes you heard right 5 eggs. Be sure to add that one at a time, so they can be fully incorporated and not deflate all that air you just introduced by the creaming. You want your eggs to be at room temperature. You should take your eggs out just like your butter ahead of time and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. If you forget to take your eggs out ahead of time, simply place them in a warm bowl of water for about 10 minutes.
These vanilla cupcakes are moist due to the addition of buttermilk. You can make your own buttermilk if you don’t have any on hand. And last not but least, what makes these cupcakes. The vanilla extract. To take your vanilla cupcakes to the next level, please use pure quality vanilla extract. My favorite go to pure vanilla extract is Nielsen-Massey. I prefer the Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract.
The key to making sure your cupcakes are light and fluffy and not dense hockey pucks – to not over mix once you add your dry ingredients. I like to leave just a few streaks of flour. Don’t worry they will bake out! I also like to finish mixing my cupcakes by hand as opposed to finishing using my stand mixer.
A Few Tips On Making These Vanilla Cupcakes:
- Get your ducks in a row friends: What do you I mean by this? I mean get your self set up for success, by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. And preparing your cupcake pans with cupcake liners, so everything is set and ready to go for you once you have your batter made. Nothing worse than having perfect batter ready to be popped into the oven, and no pans or a hot oven to put them in.
- Scooping your cupcake batter: Two ways I like to scoop/pour my cupcake batter- really depends on the consistency of the cupcake batter- if its a thicker batter I like to use my cookie scoops. This ensures equal amounts in each cupcake well. If it is a more pourable batter, then I like to put my batter into a measuring cup. This of course means you might have to eyeball each cupcake to ensure that each got equal amounts of batter and can result in some uneven sized cupcakes.
- Frosting your cupcakes: To top off these cupcakes I used my go to favorite hands down drop the mic best ever (you get my point right?) vanilla buttercream frosting. This frosting is the jam friends. It’s crazy fluffy and just plain perfect. I definitely recommend using your kitchenaid mixer for this frosting, because it takes 8 minutes of high speed whipping. If you use a hand held mixer, it can be down, but will take longer and some serious arm muscle. To pipe these beauties, I use my Ateco pastry tips and plastic piping bags (because of my serious aversion to more dishes). Note: Large pastry tips is where it’s at folks if you want to achieve that bakery swirl.
For more tips on baking cupcakes, be sure to check out my 15 tips for perfect cupcakes.
Why This Recipe Works:
These cupcakes are light and fluffy because of the use of the cake flour. With the addition of buttermilk they are also super moist. They are full of vanilla flavor that truly stands out! They take a bit of time to cream the sugar into the butter, but it’s essential to help achieve that perfect texture.
The Science Behind The Sweets: How Is Cake Flour Different Than All Purpose Flour?
I go into way more in depth in my post- What Are The Different Flours and How To Use Them but let me give you the skinny on the difference. Cake flour has a lower protein content than all purpose flour, usually around 6 percent. All purpose flour has a protein content anywhere between 10-12 percent, depending on brand. Cake flour is a softer flour than all purpose flour because it’s milled from the heart of the endosperm (the middle part of the grain kernel). Cake flour is also bleached, which also weakens the protein. Because the protein is weakened means the formation of gluten will be also drastically reduced. So by using cake flour in your cupcakes, less gluten will be formed which result in a product that is softer and more tender in texture! (source: Cooking Light)
For More Help In Making Cupcakes Check Out These Posts:
- Ultimate Guide To Baking Cupcakes At Home
- Ultimate Guide To Making The Best Buttercream Icing
- Ultimate Guide To Decorating Cupcakes For Beginners
- Cupcakes 101: 10 Tips To Bake Perfect Cupcakes (Life As A Strawberry)
- How To Bake Perfect Cupcakes (Handle The Heat)
- 10 Tips For Baking The BEST cupcakes (Sally’s Baking Addiction)
For More Cupcakes Recipes Check These Out:
So let’s recap. Perfect vanilla cupcakes. Bland and boring? No way. Good lesson learned. Now get to making them…
Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
For the cupcakes
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 16 tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 large eggs at room temperature
- 1¼ cups buttermilk at room temperature
- 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
For the frosting
- 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.
- 2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
- 3.Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.
- 4.Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
- 5.Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full (you will likely have batter left over after filling 24 wells.I managed to make a full 3 dozen cupcakes) Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Replace paper liners and bake remaining batter if desired. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.
- 6. To make the vanilla buttercream frosting: Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add in your powdered sugar 1/2 cup at at time with mixer on low. Cream until combined. With mixer off, add your heavy cream and vanilla extract and then mix on low until combined. Then mix on medium to medium high speed for 8 minutes until light and fluffy. Use right away on cooled cupcakes. If not using right away, then store in a closed container in the refrigerator. You will need to mix the frosting again when ready to use to bring it back to that light and fluffy texture!
Recipe NotesTo frost the whole batch, I make two batches of frosting. I use A LOT of frosting on my cupcakes, so if you want the tall swirl of frosting, I recommend you make a double batch as well 🙂
Adapted from Annie's Eats
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