A vanilla cupcake is a simple but delicious thing, soft and light inside and a lovely pale gold colour. Vanilla cupcakes are so versatile, you can mix them up with a variety of fillings, chopped glace cherries, chocolate drops, sprinkles and top them with pretty much anything you want – a dusting of icing sugar, jam and buttercream, fondant, sweets…. It is no wonder they are such a firm favourite. I decided it would be a good idea to put together a post with three simple cupcake recipe ideas, perfect for cake and bake sales!
My mum used to bake trays and trays of these for our school lunchboxes, the large volume being due to the fact that I am one of five (greedy) children. Sometimes the cakes were turned into little butterflies, sometimes iced with sprinkles, sometimes covered with nothing but a dusting of icing sugar and their insides filled with glace cherries.
The key to keeping the sponge light is to not beat the living daylights out of your cake mixture; you want lots of air in there. I find I get the lightest sponge of all using my Electric Hand Whisk to combine the ingredients; I don’t use a wooden spoon at all. The adding of the flour is the key, if you beat the air out rather then fold the flour in you will have dense flat little cakes. The second thing is not to open the oven until the very last minute, or the cold air rushing into the hot oven can make the cakes sink and go flat – which is annoying!
Once you think your cakes are ready gently press a fingertip into the surface – if it springs to the touch then the cake is ready, it should also be well risen and a lovely golden brown.
My mum and Mary Berry think Flora or other soft margarine work best for vanilla cupcakes – who am I to disagree with the two best cake makers I know! With the vanilla I would recommend using vanilla extract, not vanilla essence (which is the synthetic product) – some people say they can’t taste the difference, but extract to me makes a far yummier cake.
So here are three simple variations on the delicious vanilla cupcake:
Vanilla Cupcakes filled with Glace Cherries:
For the below recipe you will need about 12 – 14 glace cherries, cut into quarters and folded gently into the mixture at the end, don’t beat them in whatever you do or you will lose all the precious air and have flat cakes. Tasty…but flat.
The bigger the pieces the more likely they will sink to the bottom of the cakes. If you find that lots of cherries are sinking try dusting them with a little flour before stirring into the mixture. Also try to drain some of the syrup before they are added (I am guilty of eating the leftover syrup from the tub…)
If you add chopped glace cherries do be aware that they will sweeten the sponge, so you may not want to top your cakes with lots of buttercream or it will all be a bit too sweet. I opted for a simple dusting of icing sugar to finish each cake. (I used this Icing Duster but a small fine sieve will also do the trick).
Vanilla Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Drops and Chocolate Buttercream:
I just love the contrast of the savoury rich dark chocolate drops scattered across the sweet vanilla sponge. You could also use milk chocolate drops if you prefer, but white chocolate I find a bit too sweet for these vanilla cupcakes.
For the recipe below, I used 40g of dark chocolate drops or broken chocolate and folded them gently into the final cake mixture. Don’t beat them in whatever you do or you will have a flat dense sponge.
Buttercream for 12 chocolate and vanilla cupcakes:
- 5 chunks of chocolate, melted.
- 30g Cocoa Powder
- 180g Unsalted Butter, softened.
- 300g Sifted Icing Sugar
- 3 Tablespoons of Milk
Brush the top of each cake with a little jam or a thin layer of icing. Place the butter, icing sugar, cocoa and milk into a large bowl and mix on a low setting with an electric whisk. Once combined add the melted chocolate and whisk on a high speed until light and fluffy. Place the nozzle of your choice into a piping bag, spoon in the mixture and pipe onto your cake. If the icing goes soft, place in the fridge for a few minutes.
Vanilla Cupcakes Butterfly Style:
Once the cakes have cooled, use a knife to cut small rounds in the top of each cake. Use a teaspoon and scoop out each circle about half a centimetre deep. You can also use an upside down icing nozzle to do this if you want perfect circles. Put all the little cake circles onto a plate, and cut them in half – these are your cakes ‘wings’. Drop a small blob of jam into the hole on each cake (I used Strawberry). Pipe a small swirl of buttercream onto the jam, and gently press two of the wings into the buttercream swirl on each cake.
For the buttercream on 12 butterfly cakes you will need:
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 85g (3oz) Soft Butter
- 170g (6oz) Sifted Icing Sugar
- 1 – 2 Teaspoons of Milk
Sift icing sugar into a bowl and add the soft butter and vanilla extract. Cream together until light and smooth. Then gradually add 1 -2 teaspoons of milk until the mixture is no longer stiff. Spoon into an icing bag and pipe over the jam or, if you prefer you can drop a blob of buttercream onto each cake using a teaspoon.
Attach the two wings of cake, and finish with sprinkles or a dusting of icing sugar.
Store the cakes in a cool dry place (air tight sealed tins and boxes work best) until it is eating time!
If you liked these you may also like: Classic Plain Scones
- • 113g (4oz) flora or other soft margarine
- • 113g (4oz) caster sugar
- • 2 eggs at room temperature
- • 113g (4oz) self raising flour
- • 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 170'C.
- Line a 12 hole cake pan with cake cases, and sift the flour into a medium bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl cream the flora and caster sugar together until light and fluffy, then whisk in the eggs one at a time adding a tablespoon of the sifted flour with each one.
- Add the vanilla extract and whisk until combined.
- Gently fold in the remainder of the sifted flour.
- Divide between cake cases using a tablespoon and a teaspoon, and bake at 160 - 170'C for about 15 mins.
- Do not open the oven until the cakes have been in for at least 15 minutes or they will sink!
- If cakes are springy to the touch and golden in colour they are cooked.
Chocolate Cupcakes by Fab Food For All
Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes by How To Cook Good Food
Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting by Little Sunny Kitchen
Chocolate Chai Masala Fairy Cakes by Tin and Thyme (Egg Free!)
Marbled Chocolate and Vanilla Cakes by Coffee and Vanilla
Chocolate Raspberry Hazelnut Cupcakes by Jens Food