When my students have their birthdays, I ask them what kind of cupcakes they would like for their celebration. Most of the time, I make the cupcakes homemade, and use someone else’s recipe. This year, I decided that I would try to develop my own version of the perfect vanilla and chocolate cupcake.
These cupcakes have a creamy texture, and are filled with rich vanilla flavor that comes from both vanilla extract and vanilla beans. I’ve made the recipe six or seven times trying to get it just right. My students have been kind enough to sample each batch and offer me feedback. I recently added 1/2 cup of sour cream to the batter, and the cupcakes are now pretty amazing. You can top with your favorite butter cream frosting, use the vanilla bean recipe below, or the chocolate buttercream that is included with the Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes. These cupcakes are easy to make, and are sure to make even a middle school student smile.
Easy Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 vanilla bean slice in half and scrape the beans out
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup (120 g) cake flour
- 1/2 cup (65 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp buttermilk powder
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Preheat your oven to 350°. Line a muffin pan or two with 12 cupcake liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand up mixer, combine the softened butter and sugar. Beat on high speed for 6-8 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. This is an important step - don't skip it. If your mixture is not light and fluffy, keep mixing until it is.
- While the butter and sugar are mixing, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, buttermilk powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
- Once the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, stop your mixer and add the vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and both eggs. Mix to combine.
- Stop the mixer and add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture. Stir until just barely combined. Stop the mixture and add the sour cream. Combine. Stop the mixer and add the second 1/2 of the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Stop the mixer, add the milk, and mix until just combined. Remove from the mixer and gently fold by hand until combined.
- Fill each muffin liner 2/3 of the way with batter (I like to use a large cookie scoop for this part).
- Bake cupcakes for 15-17 minutes or until just barely golden brown around the edges.
- Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before topping with your favorite buttercream frosting.
I have to admit that I am still working with this recipe. I have made the cupcakes quite a few times and finally think that I am happy with the actual cake. Now I am working on making the vanilla buttercream exactly what I want it to be…more of a bright white color speckled with the vanilla beans. It tastes good, so that’s all that really matters, but don’t be surprised if you see the recipe change a little bit 🙂
One of the tricks to baking cupcakes that are moist and fluffy is beating the butter and sugar together until they are fluffy and pale. It’s also important that all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you begin baking. I typically take my butter out to soften a few hours before I plan to start baking, and I take the other ingredients (eggs, vanilla, milk, buttermilk powder) out a good 30-40 minutes before I plan to start mixing ingredients together. The final trick is making sure that you don’t over bake the cupcakes. I find 17 minutes to be the magic about of time in my oven but typically, I pull them out as soon as they smell like cupcakes.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 vanilla bean
- 2-3 tbsp whole milk
- 1 pinch salt
- In the bowl of your standing mixer, combine softened butter, confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract, beans scraped from 1/4 of a vanilla bean, 2 tbsp of milk, and the salt.
- Turn the mixer on to low speed and mix until mostly combined.
- Turn mixer up to high speed and whip the frosting until is it light and airy. Add additional milk as needed to reach your desired consistency.