Easy Vanilla Cupcakes (Fluffy + One Bowl!)

It's never been simpler to whip up a batch of Easy Vanilla Cupcakes from scratch! Quickly coming together in just one bowl, these fluffy, homemade cupcakes are the perfect medium for any frosting!

Fluffy, Homemade, One-Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes with Text Overlay


 

If there's one recipe that I'm known for in real life (as opposed to food blog life), it would arguably be my Best Ever Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. And if I already coined those cupcakes the best ever, then what in the world am I doing sharing another vanilla cupcake with you today?

Well, I'll tell you what. Sometimes, after making the same (albeit delectable) cupcakes for a dozen or so years, a girl wants to change things up. Sometimes a girl wants to make vanilla cupcakes without firing up the stovetop. And sometimes a girl want to challenge herself to top her best yet.

Several Cupcakes on White Pedestal with Blue Paper Liners and Perfectly Swirled Buttercream

Last week my daughter turned two, and she spent the days leading up to her birthday requesting 'nill tup-tates...and she made that request about every 30 minutes from the time she woke up to the time she went to bed. I was more than happy to oblige her, but I decided to see if I could come up with a tasty new vanilla cupcake recipe for a change! You know, unlike the one that I already have memorized from making approximately 17 bajillion times.

Today I bring you a treat that's proven to me that there is room in this world -- er, my kitchen -- for two excellent, yet markedly different, vanilla cupcake recipes. They are both quick and easy to make. They are both completely and utterly yummy. And they both taste 100% homemade (which they are), but with minimal effort. So where, you might be wondering, lie the differences?

Close-Up of Fluffy Vanilla Cupcake

My old standby Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes are like, well, Texas Sheet Cake. If you've ever had a Texas Sheet Cake, you know that it's dense and moist and sweet, not known for rising all high and fluffy-like. On the other hand, today's One-Bowl Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes are still rich and moist, but -- you guessed it! -- much lighter and fluffier in texture. Their sweetness is also a bit more delicate.

Aerial View of Fluffy, Homemade, One-Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes

Furthermore, sheet cake recipes call for melting together and combining ingredients in a big ol' pot on the stove. On the contrary, these One-Bowl Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes only require -- you guessed again! -- one bowl! Man, y'all are on a roll today. 😉

There's no carefully creaming butter or meticulously whisking together dry ingredients here. No sir-ee Bob...rather, you mix the dry ingredients in a big bowl and then dump in the wet ingredients without much rhyme or reason before blending everything up. It's as simple as making a boxed mix except the final result tastes about 473 times better, without that subtle artificial aftertaste.

Close-Up

And now for a final word about the frosting. I will be perfectly honest with you and tell you that, to me, there is no better frosting on earth than cream cheese frosting. Chocolate frosting would take second place in my heart of hearts. I like white frosting/buttercream, but I have never considered it to be my favorite. However, my daughter wanted vanilla frosting, and vanilla frosting she was going to get!

I decided to try a variation of a flour-based, cooked buttercream that I've seen floating around the internet for several years now. It sounds really odd, starting with a cooked milk/flour/sugar base that's cooled before being incorporated with softened butter. But everyone positively raves about this type of buttercream, so I figured it was worth a shot.

 Homemade Vanilla Cupcakes on Decorative Blue Napkin

The verdict? I have to admit that this buttercream was surprisingly good and decidedly different than most white frostings out there. This cooked buttercream turned out delightfully smooth and creamy. It held its shape perfectly. And it was not cloyingly sweet like many white frostings can be.

In other words? It was the perfect topping for a sweet little birthday girl's 'nill tup-tates.

More Easy Sweet Treats

One-Bowl Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes

It's never been easier to whip up a batch of homemade Vanilla Cupcakes! Quickly coming together in just one bowl, these fluffy cupcakes are the perfect medium for any frosting, including this creamy, not-too-sweet, cooked buttercream.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Calories: 392kcal
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Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 ½ cups granulated, NOT powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature

Instructions

FOR THE CUPCAKES:

  • Adjust rack to center position of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners.
  • Set a large sifter or fine mesh sieve over the large bowl of an electric mixer. Measure flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt into sieve and firmly hit the palm of your hand against its side to sift all of the dry ingredients together into the bowl. (If desired, repeat this process a few more times for fluffier cupcakes.)
  • To the sifted dry ingredients, add the softened butter, sour cream, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 15 more seconds.
  • Evenly divide the batter between the 24 cupcake liners (I find it easiest to do this using a cookie scoop). Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until cupcakes are light golden and test done with a toothpick inserted in center (mine were perfect at exactly 20 minutes). Cool the cupcakes for a few minutes in the pans before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

FOR THE FROSTING:

  • Measure out flour into a small pot and gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Blend in sugar. Set pot over low to medium-low heat and use a wire whisk to stir continuously until mixture simmers and thickens (to the consistency of very thick cake batter). This will probably take 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in vanilla.
  • Allow milk/flour mixture to cool for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium-high speed until smooth and completely cool, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add softened butter, two tablespoons at a time, allowing it to become fully incorporated before adding the next two tablespoons. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute until light and fluffy. Use immediately to frost completely-cooled cupcakes or cakes.

Notes

  • Cornstarch makes the cupcakes fluffy and is added to regular, all-purpose flour in lieu of using cake flour.
  • When baking, I like to make sure that all of my ingredients are at room temperature. I speed things up when necessary by cutting my butter into small pieces and spreading them out on a plate or cutting board (which softens the butter faster than if the stick was left whole), by very briefly microwaving ingredients like milk or sour cream to take off the chill, and by using a bowl of hot water to warm up the the whole eggs.
  • Many recipes for this type of frosting instruct you to add sugar at the same time as the butter. However, I found that by cooking the sugar in the milk/flour mixture, any graininess had a chance to dissolve. Also, by beating the milk/flour mixture, any small lumps are smoothed out and the mixture cools down much more quickly than if left to cool in the pot.
  • Frost your cupcakes using an offset spatula, a knife, or a piping bag. Or, as I did here, scoop the frosting into a gallon-sized plastic baggie, snip off the corner of the bag, and pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes in a spiral, starting from the outside perimeter and working towards the center.

Nutrition

Calories: 392kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 226mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 720IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 0.9mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

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14 Comments

  1. My coworker wanted a vanilla cake without frosting for her birthday. Can I put this recipe and bake it in a 9 x 13 pan? If so, how long would you suggest cooking it?

    1. Hi Mary Beth! Yes, this recipe can definitely be converted to a 9- x 13-inch pan. The baking time will probably be around 30 to 35 minutes, but it could be slightly shorter or longer depending on your oven. So I would start peeking at your cake around 28 minutes and pull it out of the oven once it's light golden and the center tests done with a toothpick. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Turned out perfectly and are now a family favorite! Any changes I should make for baking these at a high altitude (5,000 ft)? Thank you.

  3. So all in at one time? No adding in one egg at time or each wet ingredient at a time? Almost too good to be true! Lol please let the answer be yes! Is it ok to whisk or stir this recipe with spatula by hand?

    1. Hi Kristen! I haven't made those particular substitutions, but most cupcake recipes call for oil so I'm sure that it would work just fine. As for the water instead of milk, that would probably be okay, too. I only added a splash of milk because the batter was pretty thick, and it needed a little extra liquid to thin it out a bit. It's such a small amount that I don't think there should be a noticeable difference if using water. However, if your batter seems the right consistency without it (maybe using oil instead of butter will give you a thinner batter in the first place?), I wouldn't even worry about adding the 1/4 cup water. Hope that helps and hope you enjoy these! 🙂

    2. Oh! And I just wanted to add that using oil may make the bottom of the cupcake liners a bit greasy. You can avoid this issue if you have any of those thicker cupcake liners that have the foil lining on the inside. No big deal if not...just thought I would mention it. 😉

    1. Thank you, Meghan...they didn't last long around here! 🙂 I really appreciate you stopping by and hope you're having a great weekend!

  4. I recognize these cupcakes from instagram! 😉 They look so delicious! Almost a winter wonderland look! Would be great for a Frozen party!

    1. Ha, Amber...they sure looked good smashed all over my table, huh? I had to share another cupcake IG pic on the day I posted this recipe, just to prove how they looked before that unfortunate incident... 😉