Perfect Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

No food blog is complete without a basic go-to cupcake recipe. This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's "Perfect Party Cake". As its name implies, it makes the perfect cake. I've tried other so called "perfect" cake recipes and they just don't compare. This cake has the perfect level of moisture and a perfect texture. (Have I used the word "perfect" enough yet?)It's very light and airy, but it can still hold up to a heavy dosing of buttercream on top.

The cake also uses lemon zest and lemon extract. I thought it would be really lemony but it wasn't at all. It just added a brightness to the taste.

I chose to throw my favorite buttercream on top. It's the Magnolia Buttercream recipe and in my opinion it's the only buttercream recipe you need. It is so simple to make. It comes out perfect every time and, unlike other buttercreams, there is no cooking or shortening involved.

Cupcake Recipe: Adapted from "Baking: From my Home to Yours" - By Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 20 cupcakes

  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.

  3. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter, and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and will aerated.

  4. Fill each cupcake 3/4 full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch- a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool.

Buttercream Recipe: Adapted From Magnolia Bakery
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

  • 3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


thebrunettebaker said...

I am so in love with multi-colored sprinkles...thanks for reminding me :)

Mini Baker said...

these look really delicious! And so fluffy and light!
Thanks for sharing the recipes :)
Happy Baking,
Mini Baker

Anshika said...

These cupcakes have come out extremely beautiful and mouthwatering.

Sara @ Our Best Bites said...

Those really do look perfect. Makes me want to have a party!

lisaiscooking said...

Your cupcakes do look perfect! And, vanilla is my favorite.

Heidi said...

I know this may be a totally silly question but how do you get your icing to look like that on your cupcakes?? I'm good at piping a beautiful swirl but I also like the clean and old fashion look of hand applied icing. Yours looks perfect!

Oh, and by the way, I tried to sign up to become a follower of your blog but always get an error message. Should I take this personally?? Ha! Ha!


SugarCooking said...

Heidi - That's funny, I'm horrible at piping but I somehow manage to do well with an offset spatula. I actually using a piping bag (without a tip... just a plastic coupler) to put some icing on each cupcake. Then I use an offset spatula to flatten it out. Then I run the spatula around the perimeter of the icing and it leaves a really clean edge. Sometimes it helps if the icing is a little harder so sometimes I put it in the fridge for a few minutes first.

I don't know why it's giving you an error message when you try to follow! That stinks! I'll look into it.. thanks for letting me know.

KP said...

haha I came to ask the same question as Heidi! Thanks for telling us-- I will be sure to try it some time!

lizlaughs said...

These cupcakes look so good! I can't wait to try them.

Anonymous said...

I tried making this last night and the cake is delicious! I made one cake instead of cupcakes and well I had a mishap with an overflowing cake, but the parts that cooked correctly were PERFECT! (It's a good thing I was testing out the cake before the actual day I needed it!)

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