Vanilla Cupcakes

The vanilla cupcake was the second recipe I ever wrote myself. Having tried a few ‘famous’ recipes and never being able to get on board with their methods or quantities, I chose to start from scratch and baked a blind batch without any guidance – thank god cupcakes are forgiving. The brilliant thing about a basic vanilla sponge is by using fairly equal ratios you can’t go too wrong, it’s more a case of fine tuning and bowl licking!

For me, a cupcake should be light, sweet and with a high ratio of frosting. If you’re not up making the entire recipe, just whip up the frosting and eat with a large spoon! Something I’ve never done 😉


Recipe (Makes 12)

170g unsalted butter (room temp)
190g caster sugar
190g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 egg (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
160ml semi-skimmed milk

150g unsalted butter
300g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk
Food colouring (if using)




  • Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees (celsius) and line a cupcake tray with cupcake liners and set aside.
  • Measure out your unsalted butter and caster sugar into a mixing bowl. Your unsalted butter will be at room temperature and therefore nice and soft. Using an electric mixer on a medium speed, whisk together (cream) your butter and caster sugar until light and pale – to achieve this, whisk for approx. 1 minute on your medium setting and then turn up to high for about 30 seconds. You’ll notice the colour of the mix is paler than when you first started.
  • In a separate bowl, measure out your flour and add your salt and baking powder, then set aside.
  • Go back to your butter mixture and add your egg and vanilla extract. Mix on medium until fully combined.
  • Measure out your milk and add half to your batter. Mix in until combined. Sift in half of your flour mix until combined and creamy. Repeat this step with the remaining milk and flour. Your end batter will be creamy and fairly thick.
  • Spoon this mix into your cupcake liners until they are 2/3 full, then firmly, and carefully, tap the tray on your kitchen surface to release any unwanted air bubbles.
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes until they are a pale golden colour (the time will vary depending on your oven). I usually bake my cupcakes on the top shelf of the oven. You can check with a toothpick or a knife by inserting it into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean you’ll know they are cooked through.
  • Once out of the oven, immediately take the cupcakes out of the tray and place on a wire rack to cool.

Whilst they are cooling, this is a good time to make your frosting.


  • Measure out your butter and whip on a medium setting for about 2 minutes until slightly paler.
  • Add 1/3 of the icing sugar (always sifted!) and continue to mix on medium until fully combined. Add 1/3 of the milk to the mixture and beat until fully combined. Repeat this step again with the next third of icing sugar and milk. The third time you repeat this, be sure to add your vanilla extract.
  • Whisk again on a high speed for about 1 minute to ensure your frosting is nice and light.
  • Add food colouring if desired.

When your sponges have cooled, pipe/dollop the frosting as desired. Remember to always top with sprinkles and enjoy!

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