Vanilla Cupcakes With White Buttercream Frosting

Published on May 30, 2022

This is a reposting of the Easter Vanilla Cupcakes with Butter Cream Frosting post and also the Valentine’s Vanilla and Almond Cupcakes with Butter Cream Frosting, which is the same recipe — a basic recipe that can be flavored any way you like using liquid extracts or things like lemon or orange juices and grated peels. I have a separate recipe for chocolate cupcakes because the best chocolate cake is made with oil and hot water.

In this post, I wanted to show the difference in the color of buttercream frosting when you use a yellow butter like Kerrygold verses using butter that is very white like Trader Joe’s. Real vanilla will have some effect on the color. There is fake vanilla that is clear like almond extract which professionals use, but I still use the real thing and don’t worry that it’s not quite as white.

“Excessive beating will toughen the cake, but undermixing can cause it to crumble. What to do: Most cake recipes will call for alternating wet and dry ingredients into the creamed fat. This somewhat tedious method helps prevent gluten from forming, which is what causes cake to become tough.”
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Vanilla Cupcakes


  • 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened*
  • 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs (about 1/2 cup), room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
  • Instructions

    Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cupcake pan with liners.

    Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer and using the whisk attachment beat until the mixture is creamy and very pale in color. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each one. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat for 3 minutes. Add the extract and mix.

    At this point I like to switch to the paddle attachment. Add 1/3 of the dry mixture and mix on low speed until just incorporated (When you add it, sprinkle it all over the batter and not just in a clump so it incorporates better). Add 1/2 of the milk and gently mix a few seconds. Add another 1/3 of the dry mixture and gently mix. Add the remaining milk and mix and gently mix. Add the remaining dry mixture and mix. As you are adding the dry mixture don’t over mix or it will cause the gluten in the flour to develop making the cake tough and rubbery. There’s a sweet spot between over mixing and under mixing.

    Spoon the batter into the liners. They will be 3/4’s full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the top springs back or if a toothpick is inserted it comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes, then removed from the pan to a cookie rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

    * The butter needs to be room temperature. If it’s too cold, as it blends with the sugar the mixture will be gritty and it will be difficult and take much longer to turn into a smooth and fluffy consistency. The cake will come out dense if you continue with the recipe and the sugar and butter mixture is gritty and not pale colored and fluffy. has tricks for softening butter.

    Watkin’s makes a 100% natural food coloring from vegetables and spices.

    Buttercream Frosting


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (Use a brand of butter that is very light in color (like Trader Joes) if you want a whiter frosting. The more yellow colored the butter is (like Kerrygold), the more yellow the frosting.)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons milk
  • Instructions

    Place all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat until smooth and fluffy.

    You can ice the cupcakes using a knife with frosting leftover, or put the frosting in a pastry bag and pipe it onto the cupcakes which will use up all the frosting.

    National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Virginia

    Photo of Marine Memorial, Arlington, Virginia, that the museum building was designed from.
    Photo from Flickr by Mike Desisto