Perfectly moist vanilla cupcakes topped with whipped vanilla buttercream and sprinkles is the ultimate, classic bake and is perfect as a birthday treat.
Full recipe + amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Caster sugar. Super fine sugar.
- Baking powder.
- Plain yogurt.
- Icing sugar / Powdered sugar.
How to make the best vanilla cupcakes
- Make the batter: Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This is an important step because you can get a lot of air into the batter this way without over-working the flour. Add the eggs and vanilla followed by the dry ingredients, milk and yogurt.
- Bake: Spoon the batter into cupcake cases and bake in a preheated oven until golden brown and cooked through. Test if the cupcakes are done by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean the cupcakes are done. Allow to cool completely.
- Make the buttercream: In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip room temperature butter until pale and fluffy. Add the sifted icing sugar and milk and whip for 5 minutes until the buttercream is smooth. Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt (optional) and whip for another minute.
- Decorate the cupcakes: Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a piping nozzle of your choice. Decorate the cupcakes and top with sprinkles. Alternatively, swirl the buttercream onto the cupcakes using a spoon or knife.
Can I make cupcakes ahead?
Cupcakes can be baked, allowed to cool and frozen for up to a month. They can also be baked a day in advance and decorated on the day of serving. Decorated cupcakes can be stored under a cake dome for up to 2 days at room temperature.
How do you keep cupcakes moist?
The introduction of fat or dairy into a cupcake recipe is what keeps it moist. Oil, butter, yogurt and buttermilk are all good ways to keep a cupcake recipe moist. I love yogurt-cakes as they are always moist and light and that’s why I prefer to use yogurt in many of my cake recipes.
Do you need vanilla extract for cupcakes?
Vanilla extract is often seen as a superior product and is more expensive than vanilla essence. Cook’s Illustrated recently did a taste test and found that vanilla essence often won the taste test when compared to extract in baked goods. I suppose that’s because the flavor of imitation vanilla is what we associate with birthday cake, vanilla milkshakes and ice cream. I think if you can find a good quality essence it should be fine used in baking. But when in doubt, stick with a scraped vanilla bean or extract.
Do I need to keep buttercream icing in the fridge?
If it’s not terribly hot outside, it’s best to keep buttercream at room temperature as the butter will firm up and make it unpleasant to eat and impossible to decorate a cake or cupcake with.. If the temperature is too hot, you can refrigerate the buttercream and allow to come to room temperature before serving/using to decorate.
More delicious cupcake recipes:
Classic vanilla cupcakes with whipped buttercream
- 1/2 cup butter room temperature
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract/seeds from one vanilla pod
for the whipped vanilla buttercream
- ½ cup butter room temperature
- 3 cups icing sugar sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- sprinkles for decorating
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°c/350ºF and line a 12-hole muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix through then add the milk, yogurt and vanilla.
- Mix until everything is combined then spoon the batter into the cupcake liners.
- Place into the oven and allow to bake for 12-15 minutes until the cupcakes are golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- To make the buttercream, whip the butter until pale then add the icing sugar and vanilla extract and whip until soft and fluffy. Add a little milk if your buttercream is too stiff.
- Transfer the whipped buttercream to a piping bag and pipe swirls of frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.
- Top with sprinkles and serve. (These cupcakes can be made the day before you intend to serving them.)