With perfect results every time, Simple Vanilla Cupcakes are the ultimate go-to recipe for birthdays, special occasions, or just because! Paired with the best frosting ever!
When it comes to baking, there is nothing on earth as inviting and as homey as the taste and smell of vanilla. I know that some consider it to be a boring flavour, but I disagree. Vanilla exudes nostalgic, home-style, and comforting tastes. Why else would it be one of the most popular cake and frosting flavours?
I have to confess, I did not start out with the intention to make a recipe for vanilla cupcakes. My goal was to showcase my recipe for Classic Ermine Frosting. Even though the frosting was a complete hit, it was the cupcakes that blew me away.
They were the most moist and delicious cupcakes I have ever eaten. It’s true! I’m not just saying that because I made them. And, trust me, I’ve eaten a lot cupcakes over the years, so my claim is backed by years of personal sacrifice (weight gain) and many, many taste testing adventures.
LET’S TALK ABOUT VANILLA EXTRACT
There’s one particular truth that I have preached over and over again here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen. It’s a simple truth. It’s that if you are preparing a recipe with very few ingredients, use the best ingredients you can find or afford.
Case in point – vanilla; don’t be tempted to use cheap vanilla. Not all vanilla extracts are created equally. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all high and mighty on you and tell you to buy a bottle of vanilla that costs $40. I have used many extracts that have been cheap that have yielded great results.
I completely trust the Watkins brand and use many of their extracts. And, I love the Rodelle brand, although depending on where you shop, you could spend up to $15 for a very small bottle. I think my favourite is the Baker’s brand. It’s not expensive at all and the vanilla flavour is very intense in comparison to many other imitation extracts.
WHAT EXACTLY IS VANILLA EXTRACT?
Vanilla extract is a solution made by macerating and percolating vanilla pods in a mixture of ethanol and water. It is considered an essential ingredient in many desserts, especially baked goods. Most cakes, cookies, brownies, and cupcakes, as well as custards, ice creams, and puddings, contains vanilla extract.
There’s pure and artificial extract. Pure vanilla extract contains several hundred flavour compounds, which are responsible for its complex, deep flavour. In contrast, artificial vanilla flavour is completely made up of artificially-derived vanillin, which is frequently made from a by-product of the wood pulp industry.
Here’s an interesting fact – because of the way that vanilla extract is made, there is no possible way for it to be colourless or clear. Therefore, any clear vanilla flavouring is artificial! As someone who loves to bake, I say get yourself some clear vanilla extract anyway. It’s great for keeping white cakes and cookies, and frostings too, super bright white.
At the end of the day, the lesson here is simple. Use the best you got. Use the best you can afford. Will the cheapest bottle of vanilla extract ruin the entire recipe? No! Will the kids your baking these cupcakes for care or even notice? No!
Besides, there’s nothing that some pretty sprinkles can’t make better. And my Classic Ermine Frosting tastes so good, it can practically put a smile on anyone’s face. It’s that simple!
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Simple Vanilla CupcakesPin Recipe Print Recipe
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 350° and line muffin tins with paper liners. (This recipe makes 24 cupcakes, so use as many muffin tins as needed.) Set aside.
- In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, mix together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time and blend well into the sugar and butter mixture.
- Next, add the vanilla and mix into the batter.
- Scrape down the bowl and add the following ingredients in this order: flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Starting on low speed, beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, increasing the mixer's speed as needed.
- Add the milk and fully incorporate.
- Divide the batter equally among the muffin tins.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Place tins on a cooling rack and let set for 5 minutes before turning out onto the cooling rack to continue the cooling process.
- Do not attempt to frost the cupcakes until fully cooled.
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