These Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes are everything a cupcake should be – moist and pillowy soft crumb and packed with delicate vanilla flavor in each bite…easy, simple and perfect! A simple and classic Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting is all you need to top these with. Swirly and twirly, perfectly wonderful - another family classic!
There are a few basic cake recipes that everyone needs to have under their belt, and this recipe is a crowd-pleasing favorite. Topped with perfectly sweet and fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting just takes these to a new level of "The Best I've Ever Had..."
These tender and sweet vanilla cupcakes are better than bakery cupcakes, and so easy to make at home! The vanilla flavor is perfect in every way - using either pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla bean paste. For perfect results, this is one recipe that I highly recommend weighing the dry ingredients for if you can.
Every time I bake these up, everybody goes crazy! So simple, so easy, so perfect!
SIMPLE & FRESH INGREDIENTS:
STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING TO DIE FOR...
So can we talk about Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting for a minute? If you love fresh fruit flavor in your frostings, you know what a pain it is to get fruit puree to just the right consistency and flavor in order to add it to bakery products, frostings and fillings. But using freeze-dried strawberries are a GAME CHANGER! All the flavor, all the color - just BURSTING with fresh strawberry flavor! A few seconds in a food processor or blender pulverizes freeze dried fruit to a wonderful pure fruit powder. Who knew something so easy could be so stinking good?
THE SECRETS OF PERFECT CUPCAKES:
Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes:
3 and 2/3 cups (420g) cake flour (weighed or spooned & leveled)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 cups unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs +2 additional large egg whites (room temperature)
1 Tablespoon Rodelle Pure Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Paste
1 and ½ cup buttermilk (room temperature)
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pkg (10-12g) freeze-dried strawberries
(about 1/2 cup strawberry powder when pulverized)
1 block (8-ounce) full fat cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
3 cups (360g) powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons whole milk or half & half
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
HOW I MAKE THESE:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with parchment paper cupcake liners (this recipe makes about 36 cupcakes); set aside.
2. PREPARE CUPCAKES: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined; set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment or using a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed.
4. Beat in the 3 eggs one at a time at medium speed, and then add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat on high speed until combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes. (The batter may look curdled as a result of the eggs and solid butter combining.) Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
5. Add half of the dry ingredients and half of the buttermilk, and mix on low speed just until combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and remaining buttermilk and again mix on low speed just until combined – DO NOT OVERMIX! This batter is thicker than you may be expecting!
6. Scoop or spoon the batter into the liners, filling each liner NO MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS (no more than ¾-inch from the top of your cupcake liner)! If you fill them any fuller, they will overflow and the tops will be crisp and the centers are more likely to sink.
7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the top springs back when you touch it lightly in the center with your finger; if it doesn’t spring back immediately, keep baking just until it does.
8. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes; remove cupcakes from pan and place in a covered container (this maximizes the moisture in the cupcakes). Allow to cool completely before frosting.
9. PREPARE STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING: Process the freeze-dried strawberries in a blender or food processor until pulverized and a powdery crumb; set aside.
In a large bowl (if using a hand-held mixer) or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar, freeze-dried strawberry powder, half & half/milk, vanilla and salt and beat on medium-high until combined and creamy. Add 1 more tablespoon of half & half/milk to thin out if necessary. Add salt to t, whipping cream or half & half, vanilla and salt. Increase to high speed and beat for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin, add more half & half if frosting is too thick; add an extra pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
10. FROST & DECORATE: Fill pastry bag with frosting and swirl and twirl away! I piped a basic large rosette swirl using an Ateco 849 piping tip, but a Wilton 1M works as well. Any large open or closed star piping tip will give you a similar swirled look. Add sprinkles and you are ready to party!
11. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
YIELD: 36 cupcakes (or 6 dozen mini-cupcakes – fill mini-liners TWO-THIRDS ONLY and bake for 10-12 minutes.)
Originally posted July 2010; revised and reposted March 2019.
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