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  • Writer's pictureHolly

Vanilla Cupcakes

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

A vanilla cupcake cut in half with a chocolate covered strawberry on top
Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Covered Strawberry

These cupcakes are fluffy, moist and surprisingly light compared to many other vanilla cupcake recipes I have tried to create. These cupcakes come out with slightly domed tops that settled once cooled, creating an easy working surface to pipe on. They have a white crumb thanks to the omission of egg yolks yet still remain moist and delicious. I experimented on several batches of cupcakes that came out either to dense, chewy or oddly shaped. I love to use my white cloud cupcake recipe to make cupcakes as they turn out with perfectly flat tops and taste shockingly fluffy, however, due to the amount of air incorporated in that recipe, the cupcakes would shrink a fair bit after cooling. This recipe has the same ratio of ingredients but the method has been adjusted to solve this shrinkage issue.

Vanilla cupcakes in a 24 cupcake pan
Vanilla Cupcakes


- Creaming the Butter before adding other ingredients is an important step in order to get enough rise in your cakes. Add the sugar to the butter and whip until smooth and creamy. (1 to 2 minutes) This method works a lot like the notes above, as it helps to add air into your cake and create a smooth and fluffy batter. Do not over cream as this will have the opposite affect and can create a dense and dry cake.

- Cake Flour VS All Purpose Flour - There are a few differences here. Cake flour is much more delicate in that it is milled to a finer consistency, has less protein then all purpose flour, and a higher starch content. This produces a soft, pillowy and light texture in baked goods. It also allows for more wet ingredients to be added to recipes versus those using all purpose flour. Be sure to spoon and level your flour when measuring it out to ensure you have the exact amount required.

- Do not over mix your batter or your cupcakes will come out very dense.

- Using egg whites in your batter creates a fluffier and lighter textured cake. Although a lot of cake recipes call for whole eggs, this will create a more dense cake which I do enjoy sometimes as well; however in this recipe we want an airy, light and fluffy texture instead. It also creates a whiter cake than those made using egg yolks.

- Cupcakes tasting dry after refrigerating? Cakes made with butter need to come up to room temperature to allow the fats in the butter to soften again. Cold cakes will make your cakes taste dryer then they actually are.

- Use a cookie scoop to accurately dispense an even amount of batter un each cupcake

- As with most baking recipes, be sure your ingredients are at room temperature. I had to do some research here as I wondered myself why this is always asked in baking recipes. Well apparently when your ingredients are at room temperature, particularly dairy products, it creates an emulsion that traps air in the batter. While baking, these air bubbles expand which contributes to making a fluffy cake. Specifically, room temperature butter allows the sugar granules to perforate into the butter more easily, creating small air pockets in the mixture. Cold ingredients will also require the cake to bake longer in the oven which can result in pockets in your cake to taking longer to cook then others and consequently over baking your cakes.

- Room temperature butter is a bit confusing. You want the butter to be soft enough that you can easily add a indent in the butter with your finger but frim enough that it doesn't come off onto your finger when you pull away. The image below shows you what your finger will look like with perfect room temp butter. Just a light greasy coating will appear on your finger. If a gob of butter follows your finger, it is too warm.

Finger lightly greasy after touching butter
Room Temperature Butter, Finger Test

- Cupcakes shrinking after cooling? Been there many times. Although this does not affect the taste, it looks a bit unappealing. This is caused by too much air in the batter. Once cooled the cake shrinks leaving the sides of your cupcake vertical instead of slightly angled out words. Don't over whip and follow your recipe as described.

-To get a flatter top, reduce your oven temperature to 335F instead of 350F. This does require you to bake them a bit longer, but you will still have a lovely and moist cupcake in the end. If you prefer a bit fuller top, you can go ahead and bake your cupcakes at 350F, just reduce your baking time to between 16 and 18 minutes.

- Lopsided Tops? This is from your oven temperature being too low. Get an oven thermometer and adjust your oven accordingly. Mine needs an extra 5 degrees to bake correctly.

- Lumpy Tops? This could be from not mixing your batter enough. If some of your ingredients didn't get incorporated evenly, this will create little pockets and potentially bumps on the tops of your cupcakes. Avoid this by making sure you stop your mixer and scrape the sides intermittently.

- Looking for darker tops? You will notice in my pictures my cupcakes appear very pale in color. I prefer a more moist cupcake and I timed this recipe out to bake just until done and a tooth pick inserted comes out clean (or with 1 to 2 crumbs). Allowing it to bake more will add a nice flavor however, so if you want to add a few more minutes give it a whirl and see which you prefer.

- Be sure to allow your cupcakes to cool completely before placing them in an air tight container. This can cause 2 things to happen, soggy and sticky tops and your papers may start to fall away from the sides of the cupcake.

Several vanilla cupcakes with pink ruffled buttercream on top and a watermelon slice candy
Vanilla Cupcakes with Fruit Swiss meringue Buttercream and Watermelon Candy


- 1 3/4 Cups of Cake Flour (spooned and leveled)

- 1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

- 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda

- 1/4 Tsp Salt

- 1 Cups Granulated Sugar

- 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature

- 3 Large Egg Whites

- 1/2 Cup Sour Cream

- 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil

- 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

- 1/2 Cup Milk with 1/2 Tbsp vinegar (to create buttermilk)

Vanilla cupcakes on a cooling rack
Vanilla Cupcakes Baked at 350F



- Preheat your oven to 335°F .

- Prepare cupcake pans with paper cups.

- In a separate bowl, whisk your dry ingredients together and then set aside.

- Beat your room temperature butter on medium high speed (with paddle attachment) until smooth and creamy (1min), then add your sugar gradually until creamy. Total whipping time 2 minute.

- Scrapes the sides of your bowl, then add the egg whites, beat together on medium high speed for 1 minute.

- Scrape your bowl again and add oil, sour cream, and vanilla extract until incorporated.

- Remove the bowl from the mixer and rotate folding in the dry ingredients and the milk in 2 halves. Do not over mix or you will end up with a dense batter or cupcakes that shrink after they cool.

- Using a large cookie scoop, fill each of your cupcake liners just over half way (2/3).

- Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 24 minutes until the tops look light golden brown and a tooth pick inserted comes out clean (a crumb or 2 is fine).

- Remove from the pan to a cooling rack.

- Once cooled completely, top with desired frosting. Check out my recipes for boiled icing or my all time favorite, swiss meringue buttercream.

Vanilla Cupcakes with a chocolate covered strawberry on top
"Strawberry Shortcake" Cupcake

Recipe & Video Links:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe:

Check out my You Tube Channel "Sweet and Savoury @hollyrecipes22" for videos on some of these creations including:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

Whether it's Sweet or Savoury, let it be made with love!

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