Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes

Once upon a time, I made the world’s worst cupcakes. In fact, every time I look at my cupcake tin I am reminded of those obscenely bad cupcakes, because it has some pretty serious gouges on it from scraping the cupcake overflow off. Not only did the cupcakes overflow, despite being filled to the recipe-perscribed two-thirds of the pan, they tasted horrendous. I ate a few just because I felt terrible throwing an entire pan of cupcakes away. I haven’t made cupcakes since then because they were such an embarrassing flop. But John’s birthday was this week, and he loves cupcakes. While I made him an actual birthday cake as well (more on that soon), I felt like this was my time to step up and try cupcakes one more time.

I turned to Martha for help. Some of her recipes may be hit or miss, but I expect the woman to know cupcakes. And, thankfully, she didn’t let me down. Since John had requested a chocolate cake, I decided on vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Despite the truly simple recipe, I watched the video that accompanied the recipe twice before attempting to make them. I was determined that these would not join my list of birthday flops.

And they didn’t! These were the lightest, fluffiest cupcakes I’ve ever had. The cupcakes tasted great, the frosting tasted great, and absolutely nothing went wrong! Not to mention, Mr No-Sweet-Tooth ate three of them in one day. That’s sort of historic. So thank you Martha, for helping me overcome what was really a very silly fear anyways.

Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes

The Martha Stewart Show/Billy’s Bakery

Note: There is a deviation between the amount of baking powder called for in the printed recipe, and the amount Billy uses on Martha’s show. I went with the amount Billy said, and got perfectly fluffy cupcakes. I also halved the recipe, but this is the full recipe, which makes about 30 cupcakes.


For the Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder (the amount Billy calls for)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Vanilla Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

For the Frosting

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency.

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  1. Caitlin said

    This recipe is definitely the one recipe that I haven’t been able to ruin when it comes to cupcakes – definitely a winner! I’m glad you’re getting over your fear of cupcakes, because that one looks delicious!

  2. Samantha said

    I just made the vanilla, vanilla cupcakes and was really disappointed. I didn’t watch the video, so the difference in the amount of baking powder must have been the problem! I tried them twice, filling the liner to 2/3 full, then 1/2 full, and they still overflowed and sunk in the middle. Thanks for the tip!

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