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Baking Bad: The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake Experience

Baking Bad: The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake Experience

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This recipe is unlike most cake batter recipes, resulting in an exquisite cupcake. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy ingredients – you can substitute many of them with what you have lying around at home.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Baking time: 14 minutes

Total time: 34 minutes plus about 30 minutes cooling time

Servings: 20 cupcakes


1 cup granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean (this is only if you want to get extra fancy; if you don’t use it, add 2 T vanilla extract instead of 1.)

1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising (TIP: for homemade cake flour, measure out 2 cups all-purpose flour, put 4 T of it back in the bag, and add 4 T cornstarch. Then use the 1 3/4 cups the recipe calls for.)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (TIP: room temp = leave it on your counter for about 1 hour.)

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup full-fat sour cream

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup whole milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. If you’re using the vanilla bean, slice it lengthwise and use the tip of a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Then combine them with the sugar, making sure there are no seed clumps. Set aside.

    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

    Make sure to scrape away from you.
    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the (vanilla bean) sugar and mix well.

    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

  3. Add butter and mix with a hand-mixer on medium-low speed for 3 minutes (obey the clock, I tell you). You’ll end up with a texture resembling crumbs, so don’t worry if it looks a little…unnatural.

    Definitely wear an apron. Flour everywhere.
    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

  4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla extract until smooth.

    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

  5. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Add milk in a slow and steady stream and mix on low speed until just combined. No need to freak out, the batter is supposed to be liquid!

    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

  6. Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full. TIP: use an ice cream scoop or a 1/4 c measuring cup to cleanly and evenly distribute the batter.

    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

  7. Bake for 14 minutes, then poke the cupcakes with a toothpick to see if they’re ready. The toothpick should come out clean (a few crumbs are okay). If there is still liquid batter on the toothpick, test again in 2 minutes. The final look should be white, not golden brown.

    Your kitchen will smell like a cute little pastry shop in Paris.
    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

  8. As soon as they’re done, take the cupcakes out of the pan and put them on a cooling rack (counter-top is fine) and wait patiently until they’re fully cooled (about 30 minutes, so go start on that essay that’s due tomorrow).

    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

    This is the original recipe. I used this recipe for the frosting.

    Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

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