Simple perfect vanilla cupcakes are the easy and versatile cupcake recipe that everyone needs. They’re soft, fluffy, and pair well with all of your favorite frostings!
These simple perfect vanilla cupcakes are exactly that. Simple and absolutely perfect! They’re moist, light, fluffy and so easy to make which makes them the perfect beginner baker’s recipe.
They come together in one bowl with just a few basic baking staples and the results are melt in your mouth delicious. Of course, a cupcake without frosting is basically just a muffin, so I like to pipe a thick luscious frosting on mine.
That’s the great thing about a simple vanilla cupcake. It’s essentially a blank canvas for all your creative decorations! Keep it simple and elegant for wedding showers or baby showers and use a swiss meringue buttercream frosting or basic cream cheese frosting. Make it fun and festive for birthday parties and 4th of July parties and elevate it with a bit of food coloring or a classic chocolate buttercream frosting.
However you jazz up these bakery-style classic vanilla cupcakes, they’re sure to be a hit. Making them from scratch is better than picking up a store-bought package any day, so let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Flour: I use cake flour or pastry flour for these vanilla cupcakes. It’s a flour lower in protein which also means less gluten. This gives us a lighter, fluffier texture in the end.
- Baking powder: A leavening agent that helps give rise to these beauties.
- Salt: A flavor enhancer that works to bring out the surrounding flavors.
- Granulated sugar: Adds the perfect amount of sweetness.
- Milk: I use 2% for added moisture and richness to the cupcakes. You’ll notice that the higher the fat content, the thicker the consistency of the batter.
- Butter: Measure your butter first, then melt it. It’s important to distinguish between when a recipe says “butter, melted” and “melted butter”. Cool it before adding it in.
- Large Egg: It’s helpful to bring the egg to room temperature before beating it and adding it to the batter.
- Vanilla: Putting the vanilla in vanilla cupcakes!
Let’s Get Baking!
In a large bowl (remember you’re just using one), whisk together the flour and baking powder. Then add the salt, and sugar, and continue whisking.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and to it add the milk, butter, egg, and vanilla.
Give it a gentle stir by slowly mixing the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients. It’s ok if the batter is a little lumpy.
Divide the batter evenly into a prepared 6 inch muffin pan and transfer to the oven to bake.
Use a toothpick to insert it into the center of one cupcake just to test for doneness. If it comes out clean, they’re ready. Allow them to cool in the pan before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Wait until the cupcakes have cooled completely to begin frosting. Otherwise, the residual heat from the cupcakes will melt the frosting and that’s just messy!
- Measure flour correctly. When baking it’s especially important to measure your ingredients exactly. Spoon and level the flour, meaning use a spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup and then use the back of a knife to level it off. This way you’re not packing too much flour into the cup leading to using much more than you need.
- Room temperature ingredients. Starting with ingredients at the same temperature makes for even baking and a smoother consistency in your batter.
- Use a scoop. To ensure even amounts of batter in each muffin groove, use an ice cream or cookie scoop. Preferably one with a trigger release for easy removal.
- Don’t overfill the muffin cups. Frosting cupcakes is a lot easier when they have a level surface. For your cupcakes not to rise too much over the top, only fill them 2/3 of the way.
How to Store Cupcakes
Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. They will be good on the kitchen counter for 2 days, if frosted refrigerate.
You can, but I recommend doing so before frosting them. Allow them to cool completely, then place on a cookie sheet and freeze until firm, move to a freezer safe bag or container. They will keep in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
Cake flour does lead to super soft and fluffy results, however, all-purpose is meant for anything, so by all means use it. You may notice a difference in texture, but the taste will still be great.
Simple Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
- 1 cup cake/pastry flour*
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- ¼ cup +2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ cup +2 tablespoons milk (I used 2%) room temperature
- ¼ cup +½ tablespoon butter (melted & cooled)
- 1 large egg (beaten) room temperature
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla
*To make homemade cake/pastry flour, for every cup of all purpose flour remove 2 tablespoons and replace with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift together to remove any lumps.
For room temperature remove from the fridge 45-60 minutes before using.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C). Line or grease a 6 inch muffin pan.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder, add the salt and sugar and whisk together. Make a well in the middle and add the milk, melted cooled butter, beaten egg and vanilla. Gently stir to combine, it may be a little bit lumpy.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for approximately 10 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with your favourite frosting. Enjoy!