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July 18, 2012

The Best Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

I consider myself somewhat of a cupcake aficionado.  I've been on the cupcake bus since... well, as long as I can remember.  In my catering and wedding planning days, I made (I'm guessing...) thousands of cupcakes for my clients.  I once did a Bridal Fair and was told to be prepared for 3,000 brides to visit my booth... So, I made 3,000 mini cupcakes topped with a pale blue buttercream that I dubbed "Bliss Blue."  Obviously the booth was a big hit.

My first 'gourmet' cupcake was at Sprinkles in Beverly Hills 10-12 years ago(?).  Since then I make a point taste cupcakes from any cupcakerie that I pass.  An occupational obligation.  Some of my favorites include Georgetown Cupcakes (tv show, DC Cupcake), Sweet (Back Bay, Boston), Sprinkles (DC - remember the cherry blossom cupcakes I made?!), Cupcake A La Mode (Kansas City), Dolce (Kansas City), and most recently Magnolia Bakery.

When we were in New York for a wedding this Spring, I had my first experience at Magnolia Bakery.  I'm a tough critic- but I thought these were some of the best cupcakes I've ever tasted.  Mostly, I loved the very vanilla-y, soft and creamy buttercream.

Emma's 7th month birthday was on the 15th, so yesterday I made a batch of Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupakes topped with Bliss Blue Vanilla Buttercream.  Basically, I just needed an excuse.

*New : Here is a link to my new store with all of my favorite Baking Essentials - the perfect cupcake liners, disposable piping bags, etc. to make your cupcake making easy.

Magnolia Bakery's
Vanilla Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

My favorite cupcake liners : a little taller than most papers, but still fit in a standard muffin pan for professional looking cupcakes.

Vanilla Buttercream:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Yield: enough for 2 dozen cupcakes or 1 (9-inch) layer cake

 Make sure you beat the icing for 3-5 minutes to get the super creamy consistency.

 As I talked about at length in my Heirloom Pumpkin Sugar Cookies post, when I'm mixing icing colors I always add a little touch of the opposite of the color I'm mixing to achieve a muted color that looks more sophisticated.  In this instance since I was making blue, I added just a touch of red (far left) and yellow (middle) to the blue (right).  By adding the red and yellow (or orange... I didn't have any) the color will appear more muted and not so bright.  It sounds strange, but it really works.

Ready to frost - I opted for a homemade looking cupcake versus my typical piped on swirl.

I tried to mimic the famous Magnolia swirl... it was hard to copy!

Again... here is a link to my new store with all of my favorite Baking Essentials - the perfect cupcake liners (a little taller than most for professional looking cupcakes), disposable piping bags, etc. to make your cupcake making easy.


  1. hmmm, we ended the summer swim team season today, i'd say that's a worthy excuse for a celebration!! i'm going to try these. i have yet to find the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe but i trust your discerning palette! :) happy 7th month {already?!} bday to emma!! xo, tessa

  2. I can't wait to try these! Vanilla is my all time pure and delicious! I love the tip on the icing coloring. Excited to try different colors. I just started following your blog so I'll be going back to look at sugar cookie post!
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. I was just thinking today that my cake recipe doesn't do well when I make cupcakes and I would like to find a good cupcake recipe. I'll give these a try! Thanks!!!

  4. Love the simplicity of the flavor, always the best.

  5. I love vanilla - can't wait to try them! Thank you!

  6. I love a good little vanilla cupcake. Your color mixing reminds me of my faux finishing days (something I did professionally). We always added orange into our blue.

  7. Anonymous11:43 AM

    Made these yesterday, a HIT! Loved how easy they were to make and delicious!
    Love the simplicity of all your recipes ... Thank you!
    Sylvia ~

  8. these just look so dreamy...once the weather cools down a bit, I'm definitely going to give these a try.

  9. Anonymous11:59 PM

    Jenny - you might be interested in this "swirl" tutorial.

  10. Anonymous6:33 PM

    Just made these..really good! Yanks, Jen!

  11. Anonymous5:06 AM

    I just made these. They are light, fluffy, sweet, vanilla-y and most important-EASY! Thanks! A delicious recipe.

  12. Anonymous3:37 AM

    How many cupcakes does this recipe make? Looks delish!!!!

  13. Could you replace milk with buttermilk? I just love the idea but not sure if it's a good one. Opinions?

  14. Could you replace milk with buttermilk? I just love the idea but not sure if it's a good one. Opinions?

  15. Anonymous11:43 PM

    i tried these a couple days ago and they are very delicious! since you know how to mix colors well for frosting.. i was wondering if you knew a good way to get a light grey color but still have it look rustic and sophisticated?? any opinions would be great! Thanks Jenny!



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