How to Make a Perfect Vanilla Cupcake, From Scratch! This Tutorial, with Pictures, is based upon my Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes. The New Recipe is Even Simpler, and More Perfect! You’ll love the Moist, Tender Texture and Rich Vanilla Flavor, and this Method is Easy as be, with just One Bowl!
This post has been a long time coming.
My Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcake recipe has been one of the most popular (and commented upon!) posts on Baking a Moment, since it was published back in July. But there were a few issues, and a lot of questions I wish I had addressed within the post.
And I just keep getting pickier and pickier. After a while, it started to bug me that the batter was a bit drippy. I’m a tough one to please! And for me to want to keep making a recipe, over and over, it has to meet all of the following prerequisites:
- The taste has to be amazing.
- The texture has to be spot on (for a cupcake, this means moist and tender, but sturdy enough to stand up to lots of yummy frosting).
- It has to be relatively easy to make.
- The process of making it should result in as little mess as is humanly possible.
This one hits on all cylinders. The flavor is bangin’, rich and buttery with a big hit of aromatic vanilla. It bakes up moist and soft, with a fine crumb and a slightly domed top. The method for making the batter is simple as can be, and because it utilizes the reverse creaming method (more on that here), you’re looking at a one-bowl wonder. One that will not leave messy drips all over your counter and cupcake pan
This newer vanilla cupcake recipe is based upon the last one, with a little tweak here, a little tweak there. The key difference between this one and the last is the addition of Greek yogurt. The final result won’t taste like yogurt, but the acid in the yogurt reacts with the baking soda to help the cupcakes puff up and hold a nice dome. And it makes the batter so nice and thick, with an airy texture almost like whipped cream.
I don’t often do in-process photos (because, quite frankly, they’re kind of a pain), but I really wanted to make this post more of a picture tutorial. I know from the last time, that you guys are really on a quest for the ultimate cupcake, and so hopefully these step by step pics will help to answer your every little question and get you exactly the results you are after!
Start by combining all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. I like to use cake flour, because it’s got less gluten than all purpose flour, and so it results in a lighter, more tender cake. I have no trouble finding it at the regular supermarket, but if you have any difficulty at all, don’t hesitate to order it online.
Add the soft butter, and mix until it resembles damp sand. This should only take about a minute or so.
After the butter has been worked in, you can add the eggs. One at a time, and make sure each one is completely incorporated before adding the next. I love this kind of paddle attachment- it has a silicone edge that reaches all the way to the bottom of the bowl, so you know all the ingredients are well incorporated. And you don’t have to keep stopping the mixer to scrape the bowl.
Finally, in goes the yogurt, milk, and vanilla. When it comes to ingredients that add flavor, I recommend using the highest quality. I often cut costs with generic sugar and baking soda, but when it comes to butter and vanilla, I invest/indulge. It makes such a difference! Lagrima vanilla extract is the best I’ve ever tasted, and you get whole vanilla beans in every bottle. I also really like Nielsen Massey Vanilla Bean Paste. For this recipe, I’ve used a combo of both. Vanilla vanilla!
You’ll see the leavening start to activate right away! The batter is really thick and almost airy. I love it!
Please, please, please, do not overfill your papers. This cupcake recipe puffs up in the oven, a lot, and you don’t want mushroom tops. Maybe that’s ok for a muffin, but not a cupcake! No more than half full. I’ve made and remade this recipe, and if you fill 18 cups equally, you should be good. I use this cookie scoop, a little less than 2 scoops per cupcake. So that’s just about 2 tablespoons of batter to a cupcake.
Now for a few words about baking. I cannot stress enough that you must check your cupcakes. Set the timer for a minute less that the recipe states (to avoid overbaking). This is across the board, not just with this recipe, but with ALL recipes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick or bamboo skewer into the thickest part of your cake. If it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, you are good to go. If it’s gooey or there are lots of sticky crumbs clinging to it, add a minute to the timer and then check ‘em again. Ovens are tricky. No two are exactly the same. Some run hot, some cold. Some are hot in one area and cold in another. (Try to position the rack in the middle of your oven, so the heat can circulate evenly, all around.) I keep a little oven thermometer in mine so I can be sure it’s calibrated correctly, or if not, I can adjust accordingly.
These cupcakes taste wonderful with all sorts of frostings! I personally love them with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but they are also just heavenly with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Or Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Can you tell I like Swiss Meringue Buttercream?
But for today’s post I wanted to keep it on the simpler side, so I’ve used this Whipped Cream Frosting, which contains a little bit of cream cheese to keep it stable. It’s really fluffy and light, and has just a hint of tanginess to it. I should caution you that it will probably never hold stiff peaks in the mixing bowl, but somehow, it miraculously does hold it’s shape (surprisingly well!) when piped. I would make the frosting no more than a few hours before serving, and keep it refrigerated, since it contains dairy.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with papers.
- Place the first 6 (dry) ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and mix on low speed to combine.
- Add the butter, stirring on low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (about a minute).
- Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to be sure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Add the yogurt, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste. Stir until fully combined.
- Fill the papers half full and bake for 14 minutes, or until a bamboo skewer inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
If you want to make these cupcakes ahead, you totally can! Just keep them unfrosted. They’ll keep well in an airtight container, for up to 3 days at room temperature, in the fridge for a week and a half or so, and for months in the freezer! I also find that they seem to get more moist the day after they’re baked. Don’t know what that’s all about, but it works for me!
Hopefully I didn’t leave anything out, but if you have a question I didn’t answer, please feel free to leave me a comment below. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and have lots of success with it! There’s just nothing like a homemade cupcake, from scratch, especially if it’s this easy to make!
PS- If cupcakes are your thing, be sure to check out my Simply Perfect Chocolate Cupcake recipe! It might just be my favorite recipe on this whole website!
*This post contains affiliate links. It is not a sponsored post. All opinions expressed here are straight from my heart.*