When my friend Kim announced she was throwing herself a 31st birthday bash, I was all over bringing something sweet to the party. I noted the pink color scheme and thought a vanilla bean cupcake with some sort of pink decoration would suit the event perfectly.
Come to find out, vanilla is Kim’s most favorite cupcake flavor. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
I scoured the Internets looking for what sounded like THE BEST vanilla bean cupcake recipe and found the ultimate vanilla cupcake recipe on Cupcake Project. The reviews seemed overwhelmingly in favor of this crowned winner; this was going to be the perfect vanilla bean cupcake for my perfect 30-something Kimmie.
But wait…I need to use a real vanilla bean in the cupcake AND the frosting?!?
Confession: I’m a vanilla bean virgin.
Though I had yet to scrape my first vanilla bean, I was determined to make these vanilla bean cupcakes no matter the extent of my discomfort. Come to find out, it’s amazingly easy to scrape seeds from a vanilla bean…so easy I wondered why I’d been a vanilla virgin for so long.
Ready for your “first”? Check out yesterday’s post in which I share all my not-so-secret secrets: “How to scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean.” (Clever title, right?)
You’ll also find a quick little recipe for homemade vanilla sugar.
Now back to the cupcakes…
Aren’t they so pretty? I know what you’re thinking. “Where the heck is all the frosting?”
Here are your choices:
A) Kim prefers no more than 1mm of frosting on her cupcakes.
B) I doubled the batch and still didn’t have enough to frost them all.
C) All of the above.
The answer is C. Of course, I found out about A later that night—what a happy coincidence!
Here are a few notes about this recipe:
- The ultimate vanilla cupcake recipe made close to 4 dozen cupcakes (see next note).
- I filled each cupcake liner half full, which was plenty for such a thin batter…and believe me, this batter is very thin.
- I used the vanilla bean buttercream frosting from Cupcake Project to top them off.
- I doubled the frosting and it was barely enough to thinly frost 3 dozen cupcakes (see photo).
- If you prefer a denser cupcake, try “less leavening, more sour cream and/or less milk” (per Barbara, one of my most favorite bakers, via Twitter late last night).
If you try for a denser cupcake and it works, let me know what changes you made. Of course, if you prefer light and airy, this cupcake is so totally for you.
All I know is I’ve never seen such beautiful flecks of vanilla bean in all my life.
Because the original vanilla cupcake recipe isn’t printable, I’ve created a printable version for you below. (You can find the original here.)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1¾ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ⅓ cup full-fat sour cream
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup whole milk
- 1½ to 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
- In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean. Using the back of a spoon, break up any clumps of seeds. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
- Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Mixture will resemble very fine crumbs.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Add egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
- Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be very thin.
- Fill cupcake liners about ½ full.
- Bake for 14 minutes and est to see if they are done. The cupcakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean, NOT golden brown. If cupcakes aren't done, test again in two minute increments until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- When the cupcakes are done, immediately remove them from the tins and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
- Mix together sugar and butter until creamy.
- Add vanilla bean paste and milk and continue to beat for another minute.
- If desired, add more vanilla bean paste to taste or more confectioners' sugar until frosting reaches desired consistency.
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