in search of the perfect vanilla cake

I’ve mentioned once or twice in the past that I’ve been on the continual search for a really great vanilla/butter/yellow cake recipe. And, though I’ve found good ones, I’ve never felt as though I’ve found THE one. My friends… the search is over. I have found the recipe I want to spend the rest of my life with.


I needed to make vanilla-vanilla cupcakes for a baby shower not too long ago and, since I didn’t yet have a go-to recipe, I spent some time on the interwebs doing some more vanilla cake research. Clearly I’m perpetuating my “last to know” status, because this recipe has been making internet rounds for years…. and I’m just picking up on it. Don’t judge. Better late than never, right? Right. I LOVE this cake. So much so that this is now my go-to vanilla cake recipe… at least until I finally pick up on the next big thing. But maybe even after that. We’ll just have to see.


Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes
(recipe courtesy of Magnolia Bakery via Epicurious)
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20¢â¬â€œ25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approximately 1 pound)
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

In large bowl, cream butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

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12 thoughts on “in search of the perfect vanilla cake

  1. grace says:

    well, that’s some heavy praise for a cupcacke! they certainly look perfect, all the way down to the dainty beads. :)

  2. BNDQ8 says:

    i like the butter cream frosting recipe and the cupcake looks delicious!! :)

  3. The pearls are perfect… ready for tea with the fine china set!

  4. pam says:

    I’m going to have to try these! I also have been searching for good vanilla cupcake.

  5. Jen says:

    i’ve been on the search too, for eden’s first birthday! thanks to you my hunt is over!! :) :)

  6. Jill says:

    Beautifully done!! These cupcakes sound delicious! :)

  7. Kathleen says:

    Love this recipe. It’s my favorite too! I love you sweet beads!

  8. gretchen says:

    wonderful, wonderful … as always, M!

  9. lisamichele says:

    I’m SO a vanilla gal so I’m SO on these! Happy New Year!

  10. Robiana says:

    Those photos and detailing with the “pearls” make me melt. In a foodie way. ;)

  11. micgui says:

    An easy vanilla cake recipe is essential for any good cook.

  12. Heather says:

    I have also been searching for the best vanilla cake recipe. I’ve conquered the chocolate frontier, but vanilla has evaded me for years. Consider yourself relieved of being the last to know about this recipe. I’ve taken that spot for you. : ) I will definitely be trying these out – thanks for sharing.

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