Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes

Meet Grandma Na.  She is one my favorite people on this planet.  She turned 83 the day we made these cupcakes. There’s nothing I love more than a birthday because it gives me a reason to bake those really special recipes that you just can’t make at any time, else you’ll be buying new pants.   I think that every person should be celebrated ON their birthday, whenever possible.  Her birthday party was a few days away, on the weekend, but she was thrilled to be called over to our house for a surprising singing of “Happy Birthday” by her favorite 4 year-old and this super moist, super fabulous, super fluffy little cupcake.  She liked it so much, she asked for another.  Seconds are always a high compliment.

There are so many “Best Cupcakes in NYC” lists floating around.  Depending on which one you get, you’ll get a LOT of different bakeries and a LOT of different varieties.  Whenever I visit NYC, one of my favorite things to do is to get around to some of the “Best ofs” while I’m there.  What I’ve found is that AN.Y.ONE who makes it one of these lists, whether it be for cupcakes, bagels or pickles, has got it going on.

Magnolia’s “Vanilla Vanilla” is the one they are most known for, simple though it may be.  You may be a little skeptical about how vanilla could be amazing.  Just trust me on this one.

{On a totally seperate note – I need this apron.}

Magnolia’s Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes (modified from Food Network and Allysa Torey’s cookbook)

Printable recipe


2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
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 F.

Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.

1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

2.  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, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

3.  In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. For these, I did not leave my mixer running while I alternated wet/dry additions.  I added them, turned a few times, then turned the mixer off to make the next addition.  An over mixed batter makes a DENSE cupcake. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.

4.  Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

5.  Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely before icing with Vanilla Buttercream.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing


2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, scraped


1.  In the bowl of your electric mixer, add the butter, 3 cups of the sugar, milk and vanilla and beat for 3 -5 minutes on medium speed.  Until very smooth and creamy.  This is the key to this icing, so don’t skimp on the mixing.

2.  Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise, lay the pieces flat on the counter and scrape the inside of the bean.  You’ll get what looks like wet dirt on your knife.  This is the good stuff.  Put it in the icing.

3.  Add the confectioners sugar, 1 cup at a time, until it reaches a spreadable consistency.  Beat for 2 minutes after each addition.

4.  Add food coloring (if desired, I didn’t) then spread or pipe it onto your cupcakes.  For the same effect as the picture, top with mini chocolate chips for a little something special.

DO NOT store this icing in the refrigerator.  It can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days.


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