My all-time favorite vanilla cupcake recipe
One of my first, and absolutely favorite jobs in the food business was working as an assistant manager at the California-based SusieCakes Bakery. Yes, it had everything to with the free cupcakes at the end of the day that didn't sell. We donated regularly to food banks, but of you closed up shop you usually made away with a least one
dozen to take home.
Nostalgia is what SusieCakes sells, and I could never get enough of the vanilla cupcake that hails from a time gone by. Moist, dense and full of vanilla flavor, it hits all the right notes in all the right places. The bakery's vanilla cupcake recipe - like all recipes from any bakery - is most likely stored in a vault, through a trap door, past a three-headed dog in a below-ground bunker. So now we turn to the internet.
The baking of many, many cupcakes
After taking a job as a news reporter in Florida, I decided I couldn't live without these cupcakes. My husband even brought them back for me after a work trip to Los Angeles. But they were enjoyed in a jiffy, and I needed a way to get my fix. Sooooo... I baked. And baked. Searched high and low on the internet for mentions of tangy cake batter. Reported stories for the news on the housing crisis in Southwest Florida, then baked some more.
My own secret ingredient
I'll never forget the awesome tang the vanilla cakes had, and whether or not my guess is right, the use of greek yogurt in the recipe below just about gets you there. However, I couldn't stop at the yogurt due to an obsession with specialty baking ingredients, like say, vanilla beans.
Enter: vanilla bean paste. A bottle may seem a little cha-ching, but ounce per ounce it's much less expensive than buying actual vanilla beans and SO much easier. The syrupy extract flowing with real vanilla beans can be found at specialty stores, here on Amazon (I like Rodelle), and is popping up more and more at local grocery stores, including Whole Foods (no longer Whole Paycheck, prices have dropped significantly since Amazon acquired the Texas-based chain). I use it for all manner of baking, including adding it for legit vanilla bean specs in French macarons.
Turn this batter in cupcakes, or double it up and bake a cake. Then ask your smart speaker to play some oldies, sit back, relax and enjoy a sweet little bit of nostalgia.Print
- 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 4 ounces/1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup greek yogurt (or sour cream or creme fraiche)
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste* (or seeds from one vanilla bean pod, or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 8 ounces/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (two sticks)
- 3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar (around 12 oz)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Line your pan with liners, or if baking cakes grease the pans with butter or coconut oil, then line with a parchment circle cut to fit the bottom.
- In a large bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Beat on low briefly to combine. Add butter, and mix on medium speed until coarse crumbs form, less than a minute. Blend in the sour cream, and you’ll find yourself with a lumpy batter.
- Whisk together egg, egg yolk, and vanilla bean or paste in a small bowl and add to batter. It will be very thick and sticky. Divide evenly among cups in the pan (I like my ice cream scoop for portioning).
- Bake for 18-20 minutes for standard cupcakes (12-14 for mini), or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes and cool completely on a rack.
- With a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip butter on high speed for at least three minutes, until it is light in color and doubles in volume.
- In one cup increments, beat in sugar (use more or less depending on taste and how sweet you like).
- Beat in salt, vanilla, and last the heavy cream.
- For a fancy yet incredibly easy touch, load your buttercream into a pastry bag (or large baggie, corner snipped) fitted with a star or drop flower tip and pipe buttercream in large swirls onto cupcakes.
- Store covered for up to three days. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen as long as you can take the taunting from inside your freezer!
This recipe can easily be doubled for more cupcakes, or baked off in either two 6-inch, or one 8 or 9-inch cake pan until a toothpick comes out clean, between 25 and 30 minutes. When doubling the recipe, make sure to evenly distribute batter between pans.. because if it looks the same it bakes the same!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Sweets
- Method: Mixing + piping
- Cuisine: Dessert
Keywords: cupcake, easy cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, easy buttercream, greek yogurt