I interrupt this stream of posts about macarons for something NOT macaron-related. When I started this blog, it was meant to be an online repository for recipes that I truly love and plan on keeping in my repertoire (this was before Pinterest was big), except somewhere down the line I got lazy and didn’t include recipes with my posts, focusing instead on writing about the experience and the pictures. I have a ratty binder full of recipes that I’ve printed out from the interwebs, but having this blog really comes in handy when I want to recall my experiences with a particular bake plus the recipe I used. This is why I am writing today about that timeless, quintessential and very versatile (as in no frosting will fight this and no filling/addition will ruin it), blank canvas of cupcakes — the vanilla cupcake.
There are thousands of recipes out there for any one single item. Unless you’re very specific and you’re looking to bake something that isn’t widely demanded or thought about like a peanut butter and chocolate baklava, for example. Then maybe you’ve got a handful to hundreds of variations. But every time I bake anything standard like a vanilla cupcake, I want to go to one recipe that I have found to be amazing when I first made it and always amazing when I make it again and again.
I’ve tried many vanilla cupcake recipes over the years and was never fully satisfied with the results. The overall taste would often be good enough (I have never had a horrible vanilla cupcake), but the texture would be somewhat lacking, or the vanilla flavor not pronounced enough. In a vanilla cupcake, I look for a texture somewhere between dense and light, with a buttery vanilla flavor and not too sweet. After many years of trial and error, I have found The One and it was all dressed up as a funfetti cupcake. I just removed the sprinkles.
The recipe is below.
Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes (from Brown Eyed Baker)
- 1¾ cups cake flour
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup rainbow sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt, and mix together on low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer on low, add the butter, a few cubes at a time, continuing until all the butter has been added and the mixture resembles coarse sand.
Keeping the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Slowly pour in the milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, until batter is smooth, scraping the sides of bowl as needed. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the sprinkles.
Fill the liners two-thirds full (about ¼ cup of batter) and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the centers are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
For plain vanilla cupcakes, I just leave out the funfetti. The original recipe can be found here. There’s also a vanilla buttercream recipe included with the recipe if you go to the original post, but I used a cream cheese frosting instead. I also don’t suggest ignoring the specification for cake flour because it makes a big difference in the texture.