Vanilla Cupcakes v2.0

This is an entirely different vanilla cupcake recipe to the other vanilla cupcake recipe on my site. The other is my all time favourite vanilla cake/cupcake recipe and it is adapted from the infamous Magnolia Bakery cookbook. It's soft and oh-so-buttery and has an incredible vanilla flavour. 

So why bother posting another recipe for vanilla cupcakes? Because, as incredibly delicious as the Magnolia Bakery vanilla cupcakes are, and they really are, they also require a little more time and attention, and, if you're new to baking, they're also easy to get wrong because the technique does need a slightly more seasoned hand. 

These vanilla cupcakes, however, are piss easy to make. 

This has to be the most fool-proof recipe I've come across. Actually, there's a chocolate cake recipe that is equally fool-proof, but then they are basically one and the same with regards to technique and the majority of their ingredients.  Oh, and carrot cake as well!

What makes it so easy and fool-proof is that this is an oil based recipe, and oil based recipes are brilliant for a couple of reasons. 

1) Oil based recipes are generally a "throw it all into a bowl and mix until mixed" kind of thing, so not much technique needed like creaming and carefully folding to avoid toughening the gluten in the flour. This also means they're pretty quick to make which is great when you've suddenly been hit with a baking bug or you have a last minute work cake sale to bake for.

2) Oil based recipes are far more moist and last quite a bit longer than a butter based recipe. Yes, that does mean you don't get the lovely buttery flavour, but I promise you, with a good quality vanilla extract, better yet, a real vanilla pod, these are incredibly fragrant and delicious. They also have a very light and tender crumb.

But, and I can't stress this enough, your baking is only as good as the quality of ingredients you put into it. This is why I recommend a good quality vanilla bean paste or the seeds from a vanilla pod for the best vanilla flavour possible. I also really enjoy using a light olive oil in cake recipes that call for oil. In my opinion, it's a nicer fat to use, both for health reasons (oh, who am I kidding, this is cake we're talking about) and for taste reasons. The rest of the ingredients are pretty standard, so at the very least, splurge on a "fancy" vanilla!

For some reason, probably because they're basically a from-scratch box mix cupcake (which sounds like somewhat of a contradiction), I thought it would be nice to keep these cupcakes as simple as possible. A little baking nostalgia of the cupcakes I remember having as a kid at friend's or my own birthday parties. Instead of piling these cupcakes mile high with buttercream swirls, and after recently re-discovering how lovely a simpler icing is, I decided to finish these off with a simple glaze. 

I went with a vanilla bean glacé icing, but I think these cupcakes would be equally delicious with an almond flavoured glaze, that is, if you're a lover of the marzipan flavour.

And following on the theme of old-school baking, you just have to have silver balls on top! I remember them on every birthday cake I'd come across as a kid, and I also remember thinking they were awesome. I mean, shiny silver things that you could eat! Amazing!

Of course, I didn't want these cupcakes to look quite like they were straight out of the '80's, so my little touch of modernising them was to use different sized silver dragées. Simple yet effective, at least I think so.

This is my second go-to vanilla cupcake recipe, trust me, simple as they may seem, they are damned tasty and definitely deserve a "go-to" label.

Vanilla Cupcakes v2.0

Makes 18 cupcakes
190g 7oz 1¼ cups Plain Flour
1¼ tsp 1¼ tsp 1¼ tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp ½ tsp ½ tsp Baking Soda
2 2 2 Eggs
170g 6oz ¾ cup White Granulated Sugar
125ml 4½ fl oz ½ cup Buttermilk, room temp
125ml 4½ fl oz ½ cup Light Olive, Canola, Sunflower or Rapeseed Oil
1½ tsp 1½ tsp 1½ tsp Vanilla Bean Paste (or 2 tsp Vanilla Extract, or Seeds from 1 Vanilla Pod)
¼ tsp ¼ tsp ¼ tsp Salt

Glacé Icing
190g 7oz 1½ cups Icing Sugar, sifted
2-3 Tbsp 2-3 Tbsp 2-3 Tbsp Milk or Water
¼ tsp ¼ tsp ¼ tsp Vanilla Bean Paste or Extract
Silver Dragées or other sprinkles to decorate

For the Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan Assisted and line 2 muffin trays with 18 cupcake liners
  • Tip: The one muffin tray will only have 6 liners needed, so place the liners in the two middle rows of holes, the cupcakes will bake better when centered in the oven
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl, then create a well in the centre
  • In a large jug or small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until the mixture is a uniform colour
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients
  • Use a large whisk or wooden spoon to slowly start mixing the two together, starting from the centre and slowly working your way outwards to draw the dry ingredients into the wet
  • Mix just until everything is incorporated and the batter is smooth, the batter will be runny, similar to pancake batter
  • Pour or spoon the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, about 2/3 up
  • Bake cupcakes in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, cupcakes are ready when a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool on wire racks in the muffin pans for about 10 mins
  • Then remove cupcakes from pans and leave to cool completely on wire racks before decorating

For the Icing

  • Combine icing sugar with 2 Tbsp of the milk or water (milk gives you a more opaque glaze) and the vanilla then mix with a small whisk or fork until smooth
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of milk or water a small bit at a time until you've reached desired consistency
  • Tip: The consistency does depend on the look you're going for. Thinner leaves a thinner glaze that runs off the cupcake, very thick and you will need to spread it on the cupcake with a knife or spoon. In between is what I used for my cupcakes. So when spooned onto a cupcake, it very slowly spreads out by itself but comes to a stop before completely running right off. 

To finish

  • To ice your cupcakes, have them cooled and ready, then drop a slightly generous ½ Tbsp of icing onto the top of a cupcake. Tip the cupcake from side to side so that the top is mostly evenly coated, then set aside and leave icing to settle
  • Repeat with remaining cupcakes
  • If adding sprinkles, do so while icing is still wet and hasn't formed a crust



Recipe Adapted from Glorious Treats' Perfect Vanilla Cupcake

Other Tips:

I've noticed that a fan forced oven tends to brown the top of cupcakes more-so than a convectional oven would (if you compare my cupcakes to that from the original recipe on Glorious Treats, you'll note the colour difference), so you're more likely to come out with lovely pale-topped cupcakes if using a convectional or gas oven. I have yet to experiment with creating a foil protector top type thing, but if you've done so successfully, I'd love to hear it!

Store at room temp in an airtight container for up to 5 days