Hummingbird Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe (Adapted for High-Altitude)

December 20, 2011



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

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe
(Adapted for a high-altitude environment of approximately 5,000 ft)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 (F); for sea-level, decrease the oven temperature to 325 (F).

  2. 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.

  3. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out into a wire rack to cool completely.

  8. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the vanilla frosting on top and decorate accordingly.

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Vanilla Frosting Recipe
  1. 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.

  2. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.


  1. Thank you. I hate baking here. I've mastered the cookie but my cupcakes are terrible. Google led me to you this morning. Thank you Google. Thank you random amateur baker. My son and I will be trying out your vanilla cupcake recipe this afternoon.

    1. Hahha, yes, I feel your pain! Please let me know how this recipe works out for you!

    2. Nice!

      Be sure to try some of the other recipes in the blog:

  2. Thank you so much for your hard work on this. I tried the original recipe last night (Joy the Baker had it on her site), and it failed just as spectacularly as yours initially did (I live in Denver too). Google--but mostly you--saved my bacon. I will definitely be trying your other recipes. I'm very impressed with your research and tenacity. I use Pie in the Sky as my bible too, by the way. Thanks again!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments! I love Joy the Baker, but I'm too scared to cook any of her recipes up in Denver because of how the altitude might effect them. Oh well.

      I'm glad these adjustments worked out for you! Be sure to check out other recipes I've adapted for high-altitude:

  3. Beautiful!! I finally made a pretty cupcake living at 7,000 feet :). I made a few adjustments: I used 1 cup + 1 Tablespoon cake flour, substituted butter milk for whole milk (just because I didn't have any), and I used 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Thank you for the great recipe! :)

  4. I grew up 17feet above sea level... so moving to the western Black Hills in Wyoming (4700feet) has made baking a new (not always enjoyable) adventure since all of my baking recipes need to be adjusted or we have to put up with sub-par baked goods.... and I'm too picky for that to happen! I came across this recipe/post through a simple google search and I want to thank you for helping us high altitude bakers so much :) I haven't even frosted these yet and the house smells delish as they cool on the rack! I did have a question, I wanted to double this recipe if it worked (which it does!) so should I just straight across double everything or do you have another way/tweak I should do that?
    Thank you so much,
    Renee from Sundance Wyoming :)

    1. Hi there,

      I think just doubling everything should do the trick. I've never tried it myself, so give it a shot and let me know how it works out!

    2. Okay, I'll try it out this weekend. I'm making my second batch now. Everyone I shared a cupcake with LOVES them! I can't wait to try to double them for Easter :) And trying out some of your other recipes!

    3. michellelo2009! Doubling came out PERFECT! YAY! Thank you again!!!

  5. Sweet baby Jesus! You are exactly what I've been looking for all my life! I live in Denver and have never been able to successfully make such a wonderful sweet treat until now! Thank you for all of your time and effort in converting the recipes (something I have not been able to achieve) and sharing it with the world! You are truly a gem!!

  6. It sounds good to read about this recipe.

  7. At the risk of sounding dumb could you tell me what the sea level is and what it has to do with baking,




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