For the Vanilla Cupcakes:
(enough for 10 cupcakes)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- a scant 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (increase to 1 1/2 teaspoons for sea-level)
- a pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of whole milk (decrease to 1/2 cup for sea-level)
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
(enough for 12 cupcakes)
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- a couple of drops of pure vanilla extract
- edible sprinkles for decoration
(Adapted for a high-altitude environment of approximately 5,000 ft)
- Preheat the oven to 375 (F); for sea-level, decrease the oven temperature to 325 (F).
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
- Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
- Whisk the egg, vanilla, and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, and then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated.
- Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula and continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the batter is smooth. Do not overmix.
- Spoon the batter into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the cake bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the center of each cupcake should come out clean.
- Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out into a wire rack to cool completely.
- When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the vanilla frosting on top and decorate accordingly.
- Beat the powdered sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
- Turn the mixer down to a slower speed.
- Combine the milk and vanilla in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of teaspoons at a time. Once the mixer has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.
- Continue beating for at least 5 minutes or until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Tips & Addendums
- All spoon measurements are level and unsifted, unless otherwise specified. To level the ingredients, take the back of a knife and run it across the top of the measuring cup until the excess ingredients are scraped off.
- Liquid and dry measuring cups are different; please make sure you use the appropriate measuring cup for each ingredient.
- When creaming butter and sugar together, always make sure you keep creaming until the mixture is light and fluffy (this will usually take around 5 minutes). This helps the cupcakes rise nicely in the oven.
- After adding flour to the mixture, don't overbeat as this will overwork the flour and make the cake dense -- simply beat or stir until the flour is just incorporated. In my opinion, making sure you don't overbeat the batter is one of the hardest parts about baking.
- Don't open your oven until at least the minimum time recommended has passed. Too much cold air coming from a frequently opened oven door causes irregular oven temperatures that affect the baking process.
- Specifically for the vanilla buttercream frosting: the longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
- Add your extra decorations (e.g., sprinkles, nonpareils) immediately after you have frosted the cupcake; if you wait to decorate the cupcake, the frosting will harden and the decorations will not stay on the cake.