Yield: 6 butterfly pea flower cupcakes // Total Time: 1 hr. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. //
butterfly pea flower cupcakes
I absolutely love butterfly pea powder and think it deserves more recognition. It creates such a beautiful blue-hue that’s all natural, while also not leaving a strong taste behind. These butterfly pea flower cupcakes are a super light and fluffy vanilla cupcake dyed with butterfly pea powder, and topped with a two-toned vanilla buttercream that’s also dyed with butterfly pea powder. These cupcakes are perfect for the fourth of July, a baby shower, or, for when you just want a fun spin on your vanilla cupcakes.
what is butterfly pea flower?!
The butterfly pea flower is a flowering plant that is most often used to make herbal teas. Butterfly pea flower tea is believed to be good for you thanks to the anthocyanins in the plant, which also give it its distinct blue pigment. Butterfly pea powder is simply the flower in powdered form, and is what we’ll be using for this cake. I will warn that the powder itself has a strong smell like matcha that might seem a little off-putting, but don’t worry! We’re only using a little bit of the powder here which will only yield the slightest taste in the cupcakes. The main thing we’re using the powder for is to create a fun, naturally-dyed vanilla cupcake.
achieving your desired color
I put notes in the recipe of how much to use for a lighter or darker blue. For reference, I used 1/4 tsp. of the powder in the cupcake batter, and 1/8 tsp. in the frosting. Feel free to add more or less to adjust to the color that you’re looking for!
weigh your ingredients
Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient. In a small batch recipe it is especially important to get those correct measurements because there is less room for error. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!
mix the batter carefully
It is super important to not overmix the cupcake batter. Overmixing the batter leads to more gluten development which will make the cupcakes super tough and chewy. Only mix just until the last bit of flour is incorporated.
room temperature ingredients
It is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. Take out the egg, butter, and buttermilk at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe. Here’s how to get room temperature ingredients FAST if you’re in a time crunch or forgot to take the ingredients out (like I often do):
- Egg: place the egg in a bowl and run hot water over it for 1 continuous minute, or let it sit in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes.
- Butter: slice the butter into 1 tbsp. slices and place them flat on a plate. Microwave in 5-second intervals until the butter is soft to the touch, but not melting.
- Buttermilk: microwave in 5-second intervals until it is no longer cold, but is not warm (room temp!)
keep an eye on those cupcakes!
Cupcakes like to go from under-baked to over-baked super quickly so it is important to keep a close eye on them. Start checking at 15 minutes with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out wet, check them again in 2 minutes and so on until only a few moist crumbs stick to the toothpick.
ingredients and substitutions
For the butterfly pea flower cupcakes:
All purpose flour: gives the cupcakes their structure.
Baking powder: for helping the cupcakes rise.
Salt: for balancing and bringing out the sweetness of the batter.
Unsalted butter: for tenderizing the cupcakes and adding that nice buttery flavor to them. You can substitute salted butter, just be sure to omit the extra salt in the batter.
Vegetable oil: for tenderizing the cupcakes. If you don’t have vegetable oil on hand, you can use another neutral oil such as canola.
Granulated sugar: for adding sweetness and for locking in moisture.
Egg white: for binding the batter together and adding moisture.
Vanilla extract: for flavor.
Buttermilk: for tenderizing the cupcakes and adding moisture. I recommend using full fat buttermilk for the best texture. I highly recommend using buttermilk but I know it can be hard or annoying to purchase, especially if you don’t plan on using it for anything else. It won’t be completely the same, but you can make a homemade buttermilk substitute. For this recipe, simply combine 35g sour cream with 55g whole milk.
Butterfly pea powder: the star of the show and what gives the cake and icing their beautiful blue hue. This is the butterfly pea powder that I use.
For the two-toned buttercream frosting:
Unsalted butter: the base of the buttercream. Feel free to use salted butter here as well.
Powdered sugar: sweetens and thickens up the buttercream. If you are looking for more of a melt-in-your-mouth texture, use organic powdered sugar!
Vanilla extract: for flavor.
Heavy cream: helps to thin out the buttercream a little bit so that it’s pipeable. You can use your favorite dairy or non-dairy milk here as well.
Butterfly pea powder: for color. This is the butterfly pea powder that I use.
butterfly pea flower cupcakes q&a
where can I find butterfly pea powder?
I haven’t seen butterfly pea powder at the store, so I always grab mine off of Amazon. Here is the link to the one I use! It’s a large bag relative to the amount we’ll need for this recipe but it does keep well for a long time.
can I double this recipe?
Of course! Obviously they will not be small batch anymore but small batch isn’t always what we need! Simply double all of the ingredients in the recipe to make 12 delicious cupcakes. I even more strongly recommend measuring by weight if you are going to double the recipe for the best results.
can I make these cupcakes ahead of time?
Definitely! I would recommend making the cupcakes no more than two days ahead of time. Store the unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature. I’d recommend waiting to make the buttercream until the day you want to serve them.
how to store the cupcakes
Like most baked goods, these cupcakes will definitely taste the best on the day that they are baked. You can store the frosted cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to a week.
why do you measure in grams?
My recipes are all written in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements and therefore can not guarantee your recipe will come out how mine did. Here is my favorite kitchen scale
a note on oven temperature
Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature. For example, I always have to set my oven to 330°F if I want it to bake at 350°F. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you! I use this one.
tools and ingredients
You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront page, here!
did you make these butterfly pea flower cupcakes?
If you made these butterfly pea flower cupcakes I would love to see it and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!
Butterfly Pea Flower Cupcakes
Vanilla Butterfly Pea Flower Cupcakes
- 90 g granulated sugar (scant ½ c.)
- 100 g all purpose flour (¾ c. + 1 tbsp.)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 41 g unsalted butter (3 tbsp.) cubed, room temperature
- 90 g buttermilk (3 oz.) room temperature
- ¼-½ tsp.* butterfly pea powder
- 32 g vegetable oil (2 ½ tbsp.)
- 1 egg white room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Two Toned Buttercream
- 113 g unsalted butter (½ c.) room temperature
- 200 g powdered sugar (1 ⅔ c.)
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 ½ tbsp. heavy cream
- ⅛-¼ tsp.** butterfly pea powder
Vanilla Butterfly Pea Flower Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line a muffin tin with 6 parchment liners.
- Add the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and cubed butter to a medium sized mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to beat the mixture together until the butter has completely combined with the dry ingredients and no large lumps remain.
- Whisk together the buttermilk and butterfly pea powder until combined.
- Add the buttermilk, oil, egg white, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Whisk the ingredients together just until a cohesive batter has formed.
- Distribute the batter evenly between the six liners. Bake for 15-18 min., or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
Two Toned Buttercream
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat the butter for 1 minute to remove any lumps.
- Slowly beat in the powdered sugar until all of it has been used.
- Add in the vanilla and 1 tbsp. heavy cream, and beat for an additional minute.
- To the remaining 1/2 tbsp. of heavy cream, whisk in the butterfly pea powder.
- Split the buttercream in half. To one half, beat in the heavy cream-butterfly pea powder mixture until well combined.
- Place each buttercream color into it's own piping bag, and snip off a hole in the top. Then, place those two bags into another piping bag that's fitted with your piping tip of choice.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled to room temperature, frost them then serve and enjoy!