vanilla cupcakes

vanilla cupcakes

vanilla cupcakes for my brother’s wedding (2015)

When I was on maternity leave for the first time 5 years ago, I started playing around with cupcake recipes and had a very small “for fun” home cupcake business.  Finding the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe took awhile (I tried a lot! Too dense, too crumbly, too dry, etc). I finally came across a recipe by Smitten Kitchen (called Mom’s Apple Cake) and thought the cake-base of the recipe might just do the trick for cupcakes.  Turns out, it is one of the easiest methods to make a moist, delicious and tasty cupcake!  I have made these cupcakes at least a dozen times – for birthdays, baby showers, family events, even for Easter one year and I filled them with lemon curd (yum!).  If you ever want a full sized cake, use her full Mom’s Apple Cake recipe because it’s also a delicious crowd pleaser.

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vanilla cupcakes (left) for a friend’s baby shower

This is the perfect cupcake recipe if you’re new to baking or have no time for trial and error.  The steps are easy and there’s no finicky measurements. You probably also likely have most of these ingredients in your pantry and fridge already! If you don’t have orange juice, you can easily substitute apple juice or even milk.  I always top these cupcakes with some sort of homemade icing (try Basic Buttercream Icing or Heavenly Icing), but you can always get store-bought if you prefer.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe “Mom’s Apple Cake” 

prep: 20 min   bake:  15-18 min    yield: 20 cupcakes

what you need:

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (use something like grape-seed oil or canola oil – do not use olive oil, as it has a strong taste)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • Buttercream Icing (click for recipe)

what to do:

  1. Line 2 muffin tins with paper cups.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Combine APF, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  4. In a larger separate bowl, whisk oil, sugar, orange juice, vanilla and eggs together. (You can use stand mixer or electric hand mixer).
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mix to combine, scraping sides of bowl to be sure everything is evenly mixed. Do not over beat the batter, as this produces dense cakes.
  6. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 – going shy is better than going over because the cakes will rise and you want to have nice even tops on your cupcakes so that you can top them with icing (pretty!!!).
  7. Bake in the middle rack for 15-18 minutes – I have a convection oven so it tends to bake a lot faster – use a toothpick to check – once it is almost clean (crumbly on toothpick but not wet) you can remove them because they continue baking in the tins a little bit once you take them out.
  8. Once they are cool enough to handle, transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Finish with icing of choice. Enjoy!

*If you are not serving them that day, store them in an airtight container and put them in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving. You can also wait until the day you are serving them to ice them.

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chocolate banana cupcakes

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These cupcakes are so flavourful (who doesn’t like chocolate and banana?) and moist you’ll be surprised there is only 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in them. And actually because of the bananas’ sweetness, doesn’t have a whole ton of sugar either, which makes it great for kids birthday parties and such.  My family loves these and anytime I make them (and I have made them A LOT) they are always well received, and I always find amusement in how shocked people are that in 24+ cupcakes there is only that little bit of fat! [cake part only…can’t have buttercream icing without butter…]

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chocolatey banana in every bite

I just hosted my cousin’s baby shower this past Sunday and the comments about the cupcakes were that they were tasty, moist, delicious, tender, and what!? no way?! in regards to the fat content of the cake…pretty good responses right?  I really hope you try out this recipe! Your family and friends will love it as much as mine do.

prep: 20 min   bake: 15-17 min   yield: ~24 cupcakes at least

what you need:

*ingredients at room temperature will give best results

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour (all purpose flour works too)
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large bananas
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (mild tasting like canola or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk (almond milk, coconut milk, etc. work too)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extra
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

what to do:

  1. Line 2 cupcake baking sheet with paper muffin cups.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F (325 F if you have a convection oven).
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and white sugar.
  4. In another bowl, mash bananas with a fork until very mushy, then whisk in oil, eggs, water, milk, and vanilla extract.
  5. Use a double boiler method to melt the chocolate chips (small amount of water in a small saucepan, aluminum bowl on top with the chocolate chips in it) – this indirect heat keeps the chocolate from burning.
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing until incorporated but don’t over beat.
  7. Add in the melted chocolate and stir/mix one more time to get chocolate throughout.
  8. Pour into lined trays – about 3/4 full only – and then bake for 15-17 minutes. This really depends on your oven – so be sure to cheque at 15 minutes. If they are still soft at the top and wiggle when you move the tray, they will need another minute.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool a little bit – once they are cool enough to handle, transfer immediately to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. Once they are cooled completely, you can ice them with whatever you’d like! Some of my favourites for this cupcake are buttercream icing, peanut butter buttercream icing, or a straight up chocolate ganache.  Enjoy!
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Mrs. Bontius’ “bontiful” spread