Yield: 6 vanilla cupcakes // Total Time: 40 min. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.
The lightest and fluffiest vanilla cupcakes, topped with a vanilla bean buttercream.
Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes
Wondering what to do with all the leftover egg whites from making my small batch chocolate chip cookies? My goal for these cupcakes was to make a delicious vanilla cupcake that only required one egg white. It’s really the perfect excuse to make chocolate chip cookies AND cupcakes! These vanilla cupcakes are seriously the lightest, fluffiest, most texture-perfect cupcakes I have ever had. They are so delicious with just the vanilla cupcake and vanilla buttercream, but can also be used as a blank canvas for any fun flavors you are looking to have. If you’re wondering who to thank for the perfect texture, it’s all thanks to the reverse creaming method.
What is the reverse creaming method?
The reverse creaming method is super easy so don’t worry about it! It just involves creaming the butter into the dry ingredients (flour, leavening, salt & sugar). It’s similar to how you would make scone or pie dough, but you fully beat the butter into the dry ingredients until no clumps remain. Doing so has the fat in the butter coat the flour particles, leading to less gluten development, leading to fluffier cupcakes!
Small batch vanilla cupcakes recipe tips
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 or you will end up with tough and chewy cupcakes. Using the reverse creaming method makes it more difficult to overmix the batter, but it’s still good to be aware of how much you are mixing it. Only mix just until all of the ingredients are cohesive.
Room temperature ingredients
It is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. If you have ever had your batter look curdled, it is most likely due to the ingredients separating from being at different temperatures. Take out the egg and buttermilk at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe OR follow these methods for room temperature ingredients FAST:
- Fast room temperature eggs. Place the egg in a bowl in the sink and continuously run hot water over it for one minute. And there you go – one room temperature egg! Alternatively (and less waste-fully) fill a bowl with warm water and let the egg sit in it for 5 minutes.
- Fast room temperature buttermilk. Microwave the buttermilk in 5 second intervals until it is no longer cold (but not hot!). And there you go – fast and easy room temperature buttermilk!
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 vanilla 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 in 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: for binding the batter together and adding moisture.
Vanilla: for flavor. I use and love this vanilla extract!
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 5 mL lemon juice with 80 mL whole milk at the beginning of the recipe. You can also achieve a similar result from using a mixture of 35g sour cream + 50g whole milk.
For the vanilla buttercream:
Unsalted butter: the base of the buttercream. Feel free to use salted butter here, just be sure to omit the extra salt if using!
Salt: helps balance and bring out the sweetness of the buttercream
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 bean paste: gives you those nice little specks of vanilla in the buttercream. This is the vanilla bean paste I use. You can also substitute in regular vanilla extract.
Heavy cream: helps thin out the frosting to a pipeable consistency
How to make small batch vanilla cupcakes
1. Beat the butter into the dry ingredients. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cubed room temperature butter into a medium sized mixing bowl. Beat the mixture together until no clumps of butter remain.
2. Add in the wet ingredients. Add in the oil, egg white, vanilla, and buttermilk. Whisk the mixture together just until a cohesive batter forms.
3. Bake. Bake the cupcakes at 350°F / 175°C until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean.
4. Make the buttercream. Start by beating together the butter and salt until the butter is light in color. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, then beat in the vanilla bean paste and heavy cream.
5. Frost, serve, and enjoy! Once the cupcakes have fully cooled to room temperature, transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with your piping tip of choice. Frost each cupcake, top with sprinkles if desired, and enjoy!
Small batch vanilla cupcakes Q & A
Can I double these small batch vanilla cupcakes?
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. Store the vanilla buttercream in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to frost, simply remove the buttercream for the fridge and let it sit at room temperature until it becomes soft. Whip it up for a few minutes, then transfer it to a piping bag and you’re good to go!
How to store small batch vanilla cupcakes
Like most baked goods, these vanilla 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.
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, and here’s an article about why I use a kitchen scale, and why you should too!
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
Muffin pan: I absolutely love USA pan products because of their great quality. This is their muffin pan.
Cookie scoops: I have gone through a lot of cookie scoops in my baking journey, and these ones have lasted me the longest without breaking. Plus they are dishwasher safe! I love using cookie scoops to get an even amount of batter in to each muffin tin.
Kitchen scale: This is the kitchen scale I use every time I bake, I love it!
For a full list of tools, equipment and ingredients that I use and love, you can check out this page here.
Did you make these small batch vanilla cupcakes?
If you made these small batch vanilla cupcakes I would love to see them 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!
Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes
- 90 g all purpose flour (¾ c.)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 100 g granulated sugar (½ c.)
- 41 g unsalted butter (3 tbsp.) cubed, room temperature
- 32 g vegetable oil (2 ½ tbsp.)
- 1 egg white room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 85 g buttermilk (3 oz.) room temperature
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
- 72 g unsalted butter (5 tbsp.) room temperature
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- 120 g powdered sugar (1 c.)
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 1 tbsp. heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line a muffin tin with 6 parchment liners.
- To a medium sized mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cubed butter. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to beat the mixture together until the butter has completely combined with the dry ingredients and no lumps remain.
- Add in the oil, egg white, vanilla, and buttermilk. 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.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the butter and salt. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to beat the butter and salt together for 2 minutes, until the butter is pale and fluffy.
- Slowly beat in the powdered sugar until all of it has been used.
- Add in the vanilla bean paste and heavy cream and beat the mixture for an additional minute.
- Once the cupcakes have completely cooled to room temperature, transfer the frosting to a piping bag and frost each cupcake. Top with sprinkles if desired, serve, and enjoy!
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