Baking 101 – Easy Homemade Vanilla Cupcakes

This recipe for Easy Homemade Vanilla Cupcakes results in the most perfectly light and fluffy cupcake ever. You’ll never find yourself reaching for a boxed mix again. Once you’ve mastered this recipe, you can customise it to your hearts content.

Wow, it’s been a long time since I shared a Baking 101 recipe with you guys. I always forget about the basics of baking, assuming everybody already knows how to whip them up. But that’s so far from true, so if you’re new to baking, or just fancy trying a different vanilla cupcake, here you go.

These easy homemade vanilla cupcakes are the building block for most of the cupcake recipes on this blog. I always start with this recipe and embellish is from there, it really is that reliable. I’ll even let you in on a little secret, it’s the same recipe I use in the bakery!! Scaled up significantly, obviously.

Decorating Tips:

  • Nozzle – I always use a Closed Star Nozzle in my baking. This is my very favorite, I know a lot of bakers favour the Wilton brand but I’m a Lakeland convert. Plus this one comes with a round nozzle and a star nozzle. Perfect for all icing needs*
  • Sprinkles – Sprinkles come in such a variety of shapes and sizes. I remember when we were limited to Hundreds and Thousands in the supermaket, now we’re spoiled for choice. What a time to be alive. Just use anything you like the look of, the jazzier the better.
  • Fresh Fruit – An easy way to add a touch of class to a cupcake is to add some fresh fruit to the top. Fresh strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants. They look stunning, especially if you dust a little icing sugar over the top just before serving. Just remember, if you’re using fresh fruit it’s best to frost the cupcakes just before serving so the fruit doesn’t go bad.
  • Sweets – You can add any kind of sweetie to a cupcake, go wild. I especially like giant jazzies or Haribo Starmix. Just make sure that if you’re serving your cupcakes to those who don’t eat animal products, check your sweet of choice before serving as it may contain gelatine.

*not an ad, I genuinely love these nozzles.


  • Unsalted Butter – Unsalted butter is exactly that, butter with no added salt. Using unsalted butter in your baking as you can always add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavours but you’re not in control of the content if you used salted butter. Always best to stick with unsalted.
  • Caster Sugar – Caster sugar is a finely ground granulated sugar which is often used in baking. The finer grains allow to dissolve quicker when creaming your sugars and fats. Normal granulated sugar will result in a grainy texture.
  • Eggs – Always large, always free range.
  • Self Raising Flour – Self Raising Flour is a flour with added leavening agent which gives our cakes a bit of a rise.
  • Baking Powder – Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. The powder is activated when liquid is added, producing carbon dioxide and forming bubbles that cause the mixture to expand.
  • Vanilla Extract – Always use a pure vanilla extract which can be found inexpensively in most supermarkets, there’s nothing worse than vanilla essence. Yuck!
  • Icing Sugar – Also called confectioners sugar. Icing sugar is a super, super fine sugar which dissolves quickly giving a light and fluffy texture.
  • Milk – Always try to use whole milk in baking, the extra fat adds moisture to the finished result.
  • Party RingsParty Rings are a cute and crunchy iced ring biscuit present at 90% of kids birthday parties in the UK

Tips for making Easy Homemade Vanilla Cupcakes:

  • What kind of butter shall I use? – Always start with room temperature butter. It’s mush quicker and easier to cream with the sugar and will give a much better texture to the finished cupcake.
  • Can I use granulated sugar instead of caster? – No, caster sugar is a super finely ground sugar so it dissolves into your butter quickly. Using granulated will result in an off-putting texture in the finished bake.
  • Can I use plain flour? – Yes, just add an extra teaspoon of baking powder to the flour.
  • Can I make these gluten free? – Yes, use Doves Farm Gluten Free Flour Blend for best results and a gluten free baking powder.
  • Can I use a baking spread in place of butter? – Yes, I often use Stork in baking and I think it’s fabulous.
  • Can I freeze this recipe? – Yes, place the un iced cupcakes on a baking tray and pop in the freezer till frozen solid. They can then be wrapped in a double layer of cling film or placed in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Can I make these cupcakes into chocolate cakes? – I advise you follow my Baking 101 – Chocolate Cupcake recipe for a super moist chocolate cupcake.
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Baking 101 – Vanilla Cupcakes

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Units Scale

For the cupcakes:

  • 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 large, free range eggs
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2tbsp whole milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 24tbsp milk
  • Sprinkles and Mini Party Rings to decorate


For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C and line a 12 hole cupcake tray with cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer add the butter and sugar and mix on a medium speed for 5 minutes until the butter is light and creamy. Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside. Turn the mixer down to a low speed and crack the eggs in one at a time. Once the eggs are fully incorporated add half of the flour and mix to combine, add the milk and vanilla extract followed by the remaining flour and mix again.
  3. Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, fill the cupcake liners to 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes or golden brown and springy to the touch.
  4. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:

  1. To make the frosting first mix the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and soft. Add the icing sugar, vanilla and 2tbsp of the milk. Turn the mixer on low and gradually increase the speed. Whip for 5 minutes, if the frosting looks too stiff add a splash more milk until you reach a nice piping consistency.
  2. Once the cupcakes have cooled fill a piping bag, fitted with an open star nozzle, with the vanilla frosting and pipe a cute swirl on each cake. Top each cake with sprinkles and a mini Party Ring.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: British

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