These very vanilla cupcakes are soft and tender with a double dose of vanilla!
Here’s a cupcake for all of you vanilla lovers out there. I love a decadent chocolate dessert as much as the next gal, but vanilla has my heart and soul. In my opinion there’s nothing better than a really fantastic dessert where vanilla shines front and center.
With that in mind, I went ahead and created my dream vanilla cupcakes. And these beauties are about as vanilla-y as you can get!— with a heavy dose of both vanilla extract and vanilla beans. They’re so light and tender, and intensely flavorful. Topped with a pillow of fluffy whipped vanilla frosting, they’re practically perfect.
Baking with vanilla extract, whole vanilla beans and vanilla bean paste
Most recipes use either vanilla extract or scraped whole vanilla beans, but these cupcakes use both! It’s what gives them their strong vanilla flavor. However, lately I’ve been using vanilla bean paste instead of whole vanilla beans in my baking and I love it! I don’t always have vanilla beans on hand, and the paste is an easier way to get vanilla bean specks in my baked goods. One jar has lasted me almost a year (and I do far more baking than the average home baker). You can find vanilla bean paste at a baking supply store or a well-stocked grocery store, or online.
You can use any of these vanilla products interchangeably in most (if not all) recipes with the following ratio: 1 tablespoon vanilla extract = 1 whole vanilla bean = 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste. Use what you like!
baking tip:Cupcake baking tips
- Use a measuring scoop to portion equal amounts of batter into each cup so they bake evenly. (This is the one I use.)
- Don’t fill more than 2/3 full. Cupcakes use the walls of the cupcake liners or muffin pan to help them rise. If you overfill the liners, there’s too much batter and not enough space to climb. The batter can spill over the sides and you’ll be left with flat cupcakes.
- Resist the urge to open the oven and peek during baking. The small cupcakes are more susceptible to sinking due to a drop in temperature.
- Using your oven light, look to see when the cupcakes are domed and appear to be set. Then open and touch lightly. If they spring back, they’re done.
- Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, or until they’re cool enough to handle, then transfer them to a cooling rack. The heat from the pan will overcook and dry out the cupcakes if left in too long.
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Very Vanilla Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick, 113 grams), softened to room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean scraped OR 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 2 cups cake flour (240 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (250 ml), well-shaken
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, 226 grams), softened to room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar (454 grams), sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (60 ml)
To make the cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners or grease with nonstick spray.
- With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high for about 3 minutes until pale and creamy, scraping down the bowl once or twice
- Add eggs one at time, mixing after each.
- Add vanilla extract and scraped vanilla bean seeds OR vanilla bean paste and mix until incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the batter in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until flour mixture is incorporated, do not over mix.
- Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake until tops spring back when gently pressed and edges are barely turning golden, about 13-15 minutes.
- Let cupcakes cool in the pan a few minutes until they are cool enough to touch, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the buttercream frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, mix all of the ingredients on low speed until it starts to come together.
- Increase speed to high and beat for 4-5 minutes until frosting is fluffy, pausing once or twice to scrape the bowl down.
- This frosting will be very airy with lots of bubbles. If desired, use a wooden spoon to beat the frosting by hand for 2-3 minutes. This pushes all of the air out of the frosting, leaving it smooth.
- Frost cupcakes as desired. I used a pastry bag fitted with an Ateco 849 closed star tip.
- How to store cupcakes— Frosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Unfrosted cupcakes can be made in advance and frozen (well-wrapped) in the freezer for 1 month or more. Let thaw completely before frosting.
- How to store frosting— Frosting may been stored at room temperature, but if I'm not going to use it right away I prefer to store in the fridge. Frosting will keep in the fridge for 1 week and in the freezer for 1 month or more. Let frosting come back to room temperature and re-whip for a few minutes before using.