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Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

I get so caught up with trying to create new cupcake flavor combinations that I often forget that sweet simplicity is still insanely delicious. So after countless requests from readers, I am finally sharing a basic vanilla cupcake recipe.

I tried a few different recipe adaptions in search of vanilla bliss and after a couple of test batches, I think this recipe may just be one of my favorite combinations to date. It starts with a vanilla bean infused white cake that has an incredible crumb. It’s light, fluffy and is the perfect foundation for a huge dollop of vanilla bean buttercream.

Although this combination may certainly be a little traditional, it’s anything but boring. In fact, my dad, a die hard chocolate fan fell in love with this cupcake immediately and said it was one of his new favorites.

Jazzing these babies up with bright liners* and a sprinkling of pearlized jimmies*, makes them sassy enough to serve for any occasion. And there you have it, my absolute favorite vanilla on vanilla cupcake recipe.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour (I used Swan’s Down brand)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Buttercream

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
  • 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (this helps maintain the bright white color)
  • 1 ½ pounds (24 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

Directions:

For the Cupcakes

  1. Center a rack in the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds at medium speed for 3 minutes, or until the butter and sugar are very light. Add in the vanilla extract and one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter fully incorporated and smooth, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
  5. Once ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Using a large scoop (about 3 tablespoons), distribute the batter between 18 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean. Cool on wire rack.

For the Buttercream

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and seeds from vanilla bean until fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in confectioners’ sugar, and continue beating until well blended.
  2. Add in vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened.
  3. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  • Cake recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake
All images and text ©

Follow Jamie on Instagram. We love to see what you're baking from MBA! Be sure to tag @jamiemba and use the hashtag #mbarecipes!

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Lindsay Harkins

Thursday 18th of April 2019

I'm curious about the amount of milk if I were to add strawberry puree. Do you think I should decrease the liquid?

Jamie

Tuesday 23rd of April 2019

I would definitely decrease it a bit. Sometimes I use strawberry preserves instead of puree to keep the frosting from getting to runny. -Jamie

Julie

Wednesday 15th of August 2018

Hi! Is it possible to use both egg whites and egg yolks as well. And substitute whole egg for evaporated milk? Thanks

Julie

Wednesday 15th of August 2018

Hi! I am looking for a frosting as well that is good in piping flowers. Please advise. Thanks.. I’ve used your chocolate cake recipe and it is delicious.xx

Julie

Wednesday 15th of August 2018

Hi! Sorry, I mean evap milk instead of whole milk? Thanks

Jamie

Wednesday 15th of August 2018

Hello! I haven't attempted this recipe with this substitution, so I am not sure of the result. If you happen to give it a try, I'd love to know how they turned out. Thanks so much for stopping by. -Jamie

Steph

Thursday 8th of February 2018

I just found your website and although I read many of the reviews, I didn't see a question regarding what I was thinking about... In the recipe, once the last of the flour is added, it says to beat for 2 more minutes until batter is aerated. In all my years of baking, I notice that all the recipes state to only mix until flour is incorporate and to NOT over mix the batter. So, I was a bit surprised to see that the batter should be mixed another 2 minutes after the flour. Is this an error? I want to try your recipe and would like to make sure before I do. Thank you!

Jamie

Friday 9th of February 2018

Not an error, I promise, they'll be delicious!

Laura

Saturday 16th of September 2017

This is a beautiful cake recipe. I'm a baker, but haven't quite found "the one" when it comes to a nice vanilla cake. This is very different from my standard yellow vanilla cake, but it's SO much better. This is it! This is the one! Thank you so much for sharing your gift with the world! 

Jamie

Thursday 21st of September 2017

So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Laura! Thanks for stopping by an leaving your feedback! -Jamie

Kaleigh

Saturday 26th of August 2017

Is it possible to replace the butter with canola oil? I need to make a (slightly) healthier birthday cake for my father in law, and this is already my favorite recipe using egg whites only!

Jamie

Monday 28th of August 2017

Kaleigh- I have not tried this, so I would definitely give it a trial run before his birthday. Let me know how it goes. Thanks for stopping by. -Jamie

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