Cupcakes: The Best Basic Vanilla

Vanilla Cupcakes



Life’s apology for every paper cut, every run in your pantyhose, every flat tire, and every bad hair day, ever.

My love affair with cupcakes goes way back. Sprinkles cupcakes were just starting to hit the scene and become popular outside of California. At that point, cupcake bakeries were few and far between. They were even hard to come by in my neck of the woods, despite the fact that I’m in a very urban area.

My answer to the cupcake drought?

I learned to make them myself.

I did a lot of experimenting. I pulled recipes off the internet and altered and tinkered until they were the way I wanted them. And if I couldn’t find a recipe for a particular flavor, I would tweak a basic formula to come up with what I wanted.


I ended up making them for everything.

Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, Mondays. 😉

Here is one of my all time favorites, a basic vanilla cupcake that will knock your socks off. Enjoy!


During the process, I learned a few things about what worked for me. Always keep in mind your results will depend on your weather, altitude, and oven, but generally these tips will help you get the best results.

Take the eggs and butter out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you start to make your cupcakes. Take the sour cream and whipping cream out about 15 minutes before.

Always cream butter and sugar first, then add other ingredients as recipe calls for.

Turn cupcakes 180 degrees half way through the lowest recommended cooking time.

If you’re using free-standing cupcake cups, remove them immediately from the cookie sheet when you take them out of the oven.


Cream cheese frosting is the bomb. It does not, however, do well in the hot Texas summers. Here is the best process I’ve found. It stands up better in really hot weather than any other method I’ve used. Cream the room temperature butter until it’s really light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar by ½ cup, beating until it’s fully incorporated into the butter. Only add the cream cheese after all of the powdered sugar has been added, and it should be cold, straight from the refrigerator.


If you need to refrigerate the cupcakes, take them out at least 15-20 minutes prior to eating so they come up to room temperature. They taste much better!


This is a basic recipe, so feel free to use it as a template and do some experimenting yourself. Whereas the dry ingredients usually remain the same, there are so many options for the wet ingredients. Most recipes call for milk, but I find the sour cream and whipping cream make for a richer, denser cake. You could always use juices, alcohols, even sodas. My favorite Sprinkles cupcakes are the Cuban Coffee.


Mostly, have fun and remember, it’s hard to make a truly awful cupcake.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


3 thoughts on “Cupcakes: The Best Basic Vanilla

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