Not just another vanilla cupcake recipe. Part I

March 21, 2010 at 11:46 AM | Posted in cupcakes | 51 Comments
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I’m always on the look out for new vanilla cupcake recipes. I think it’s become somewhat of a quest for me now. I feel like I should be racking up life points and meeting elf size warriors along the way. I know I’ve mentioned 3 or 4 go-to vanilla recipes on my blog over the years but I feel like if I’m still searching, maybe I really haven’t found THE ONE yet.

I remember sitting in the doctor’s office about a year ago, flipping through an old copy of People magazine, reading about Jon&Kate+8 being no more (boo-friggin-hoo). I think it only took me about 5 minutes to get opinionated on the subject before I turned the page in disgust. And there it was. Like my salvation from camera crews, Jon’s infidelities, Kate’s bad hair and reality tv that exploits kids. A vanilla cupcake recipe by Duff Goldman, Head Baker of my favorite cake-ing show (But he doesn’t like cupcakes so I’m conflicted?!?!), Ace of Cakes, on Food Network.

All the sudden I had a decision to make. Take the whole magazine, put it in my purse and plead ignorance when the receptionist asked me if anyone has seen the latest copy of People that was “… just sitting on the table next to you” or tear the page out.

So I did what any cupcake baker would do under diress.

I TORE THE PAGE OUT! Riiiipppppp…

But immediately I felt intense guilt (my asian mother trained me well) of defacing the written word and promptly stuffed the whole magazine in my purse. I felt so guilty that the next time I went back to the doctor’s office I donated a whole stack of magazines from my MIL’s personal People subscription. Even though I fessed up to the receptionist about why I was donating so many magazines I think that guilt kinda lingered for a while and the recipe never got baked. Until now.

… and now you’re probably wondering what I did with the vanilla cupcakes, eh?

Maybe I ate them unfrosted? But if you believe that, you clearly don’t read my blog enough.

Part II coming soon.

PS- Only 12 hours left to vote for Cupcake Hero. Don’t let your vote go uncounted! (Poll on the side menu bar)

Duff Goldman’s Vanilla Cake
Recipe from People Magazine, November 2009

Makes 2-9inch round cakes (I got 36 cupcakes)


3-1/2 cups AP flour
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, unsalted
2 cups sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
6 eggs
3 tbsp canola oil
2/3 cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare cupcake pan with liners.

In a large bowl, sift to combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, fitted with a flat beater, cream the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes until light. Add vanilla. Then eggs, one at a time. (Don’t worry if the batter looks curdled.) Add oil and buttermilk. Slowly add flour mixture in 3 additions and mix until just combined. Try not to overmix!

Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 full. Bake about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.


Husband rating: A
Moist, fluffy, vanilla. What more can you ask for?

Wifey rating: A



  1. Look good. And of course you wouldn’t eat without frosting. Anxious to see what you use.

  2. Gorgeous! This cake looks really tasty. :)

  3. Lol…Jon and Kate…They used to live about a half hour or less from my house. I say my mom should talk some sense into her (she had 9 kids in 16 years). But those cupcakes look awesome! I can’t wait to try it some time!

  4. I should try this one. It looks perfect… but I haven’t met a Vanilla cupcake that wowed me.

  5. Duff doesn’t like cupcakes!?!?!? That makes me really sad. Where did u read this!!

    I can’t wait to try this out, I too am on the search for the perfect vanilla cupcake and this looks promising!

    And wow, I’ve never had a cliff hanger on a blog before. Very clever cb

  6. 3 sticks of butter, good lord. And how many does this make?

  7. He said it on a recent episode. It literally broke my heart :(

  8. I got 36 cupcakes from it. Try not to pay attention to the amount of butter. ;)

  9. wow – look how great that batter looks – and the end product looks fantastic!

    i must try these out myself i am always on the hunt for a better basic vanilla cupcake :D

    can i share with u something i found today?

    not sure if you’ve ever come across it – but im dying to try it out and they might go awesomely with your cupcakes :)

  10. I love Duff and Ace of Cakes! Jon and Kate what a disgrace! Thanks for the recipe!!

  11. I saw the same recipe and tore it out too!!! hahaha… one of the best vanilla cake recipes I’ve ever made! And the vanilla bean frosting? To die for!!!


    Here’s a great link to try. Vanilla is simply NOT plain!! :O)

  13. Every time I watch his show, I wonder how his cakes taste. I mean, they manhandle those things so much… you’d would that the cakes have the consistency (and possibly taste) of cardboard. Moist and fluffy you say… I may need to try this recipe. Thanks!

  14. Woah, I’m hating the suspense you’re creating!! Can’t wait to see what you did with these!

  15. great first close-up shot. it’s so clear i can see the ridge on the paper cups perfectly!

  16. Ahhh i love ace of cakes its such a good show, these cuppiecakes look sooo tasty :).

  17. Thank you for the information and taking the time to post this. Vanilla cupcakes rock.

  18. […] on ja nii said valmis mõnusalt õhulised vanilje cupcake’id. Retsepti leidsin siit Ma tegin natuke väiksema koguse nii, et tuli kokku 24 […]

  19. Apologies for the late comment on these but a quick question – will these stand up to being filled with … say.. Pastry Cream? Or should I use a different cake recipe if I want to fill those guys up?

  20. Oh yeah. I think so. They were moist and fluffy but not crumbly by any means so I think it would be great with pastry cream. HTH!

  21. I am not a very good cook, and even I was able to make the cake. Thanks for the info and your post!

  22. If you want an even more amazing Vanilla flavor, try using the famous Watkins Double Strength vanilla. Its a special secret formula of real Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. If you need to make white frosting, use the Watkins Clear Vanilla.

    Happy baking to you!

  23. Oh, I forgot to say that Watkins vanilla won’t bake out or freeze out! :)

  24. I made this recipe for a wedding shower –
    I followed it to the letter, and still not sure why some of the cupcakes seemed to “explode” in the oven! There was a greasy puddle at the bottom of said cupcakes and their texture was crap. I made this recipe twice more, adjusting the placement on the racks, switching racks and checking how I mixed in the flour, and no matter what, I still got 6 to 8 bad cupcakes per batch, no rhyme or reason to placement.
    My nephew the bakery student said the oven temp might be too high for the leaveners – I am not blaming you at all, but the geek in me really wants to figure it out. You can contact me and I can send you a photo of the exploded cupcakes if you’d like.
    PS – the intact ones were FANTASTIC!

  25. Hi there, first time visitor and I’m wondering if anyone has reduced the sugar in this recipe with good results? I’m thinking about reducing it by half a cup to start.

    The lady with the exploding cupcakes…I get weird results like that if I don’t sift the baking power and soda into the flour and then stir a bit to be sure it’s fully dispersed before adding to dry. Also when I don’t scrape the bowl really well, the last few can turn out…interesting:-)

    My best,

  26. i think this prob. makes a wonderful tender cake but the cupcakes are too tender and dont hold up – kid tested and fell apart.

  27. Ceci wrote:
    i think this prob. makes a wonderful tender cake but the cupcakes are too tender and don’t hold up – kid tested and fell apart.

    I was looking more closely at this recipe, and I wonder why he says to not overmix once you add the dry ingredients? That is true for muffins, but cake/cupppycakes require beating for structure/stability.

    I have not made them yet but if I do, I will beat the batter for 2 minute on med-high rather than gently mix in the dry. For the exact reason that Ceci brings up.

  28. thanks for this wonderful recipe. i tried it last weekend. they just couldn’t have enough. i just kept them in storage to their freshness.

  29. My God girl…where did YOU go to school? It’s “all of a sudden” not “all the sudden”. That doesn’t even make sense.:)
    Tried the cupcakes. They are okay. I’m going to keep looking.

  30. Someone please help me. I have made this recipe twice now as 2-9 inch cakes. I followed it exactly, and both times the cakse take FOREVER to bake, over 40 minutes. By the time the inside is cooked, the top is burnt. What am I doing wrong?? I have made plenty of cakes from scratch, and have never had this problem in the past. With all the great reviews, I’m not ready to give up yet. Suggestions? Thanks!!

  31. I’m so sorry to hear you are having such a rough time with this recipe! It shouldn’t take 40 minutes. The recipe I wrote on my blog was for the cupcake version of Duff’s recipe but for 2-9inch round cakes it should take about the same time. Duff says 18 minutes. One thing I did think of was that Duff doesn’t mention the height of the 9 inch round pan. A deeper pan might take longer to bake. Do you preheat your oven? Do you have an oven thermometer to make sure the oven is at an accurate temperature? My oven bakes 10 degrees hotter so when the recipe says 350F, I have to put mine at 340F to account for the difference. If you want Duff’s original recipe for the 2-9in round cakes, let me know and I can email to you. His instructions are slightly different than my cupcake ones. Good luck!

  32. I tried these and they had a wonderful flavor and texture, but the cupcake wrappers (especially the bottoms) were greasy. Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem if they were made into round cakes rather than cupcakes. CB, did you notice this? I’m thinking of leaving out the canola oil next time, or replacing some of the butter with apple sauce.

    I *did* use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour; perhaps that made a difference.

  33. Bummer about the oil spill at the bottom of your cupcakes. To be honest I made these almost a year ago so I don’t remember if mine were oily but I think I would have mentioned it in my blog post if it was significant. I’m thinking substituting AP flour for cake flour may play a role. Maybe next time you could reduce the amount of canola oil or skip it all together. Let me know if you try to bake them again with changes.

  34. Yummy. I love have a bite of this

  35. […] found this particular recipe on the delightful site, I Heart Cuppycakes, and since it was from one of my fav local boys, Duff Goldman, I had to give it a […]

  36. Actually, even double strength vanilla is weak, vanilla is about 80% diluted with water unless you make it yourself….

  37. I am so glad I am not the only one having such a problem with this cake. I also made it twice in 2 9-inch regular sized pans and it took over 40 minutews to bake and the cake was very dense and a bit dry. The tast was amazing, however. My oven has been tested for temperature, and it is right on. I may try the cupcake version to see if that makes a difference.

  38. […] Not just another vanilla cupcake recipe. Part I В« Icuppycakes! Mar 21, 2010 … I'm always on the look out for new vanilla cupcake recipes. I think it's become somewhat of a quest … […]

  39. Can you send me Duff’s original recipe for the 2-9inch round cakes as well..same trouble.

  40. Hi, sorry to sound so naive but why does it say AP flour?? Also if I want to decorate with icing, what recipe do you recomend, i’m looking for a thicker creamier icing, not flat and greasy, hopefully not too hard to make! Thanks in advance

  41. I tried this recipe after a couple other failed vanilla recipes, plus I loved that it was for such a large batch. Like a few others have said, I got a bit of a corn muffin-y feel and taste. Could that be from overmixing? Maybe too wet/dry ratio? But, I also got a few oily/eggy ones. I did notice it was hard for my little hand mixer to handle such a large batch and did notice some left over soupy batter towards the bottom, which I’m assuming is where the oily/eggy cupcakes came from. But the corn muffin, I can’t figure out. Suggestions?

  42. I just made this recipe and I had the exact same comments. I was trying to put my finger on it, I felt that the flavor was just too buttery, but you are right – cornmealish almost – I feel like I was biting into a sweet muffin rather than a legit cupcake. I didn’t overmix. I did use cake flour. I didn’t love the consistancy. And I too (like some of the other bakers) had oily remnants on the bottom of the cupcakes. Not totally impressed. I’ll keep looking for the perfect cupcake recipe.

  43. I am having the same baking time problem. My oven was right on, I followed Duff’s recipe (from the magazine) to the letter… and the middle of the cake sunk. I am now waiting for it to cool but I suspect that since I didn’t give it much longer than the 18 mins Duff said, that it will be doughy in the middle. SO disappointed. That is a lot of product to waste! And it comes out so good as a cupcake but as a cake it is a FAIL.

  44. woah no don’t do that! it makes it VERY dense and hard. you should never over beat cupcake batters! – from a cake caterer

  45. […] looked for a recipe that was supposedly more like that. So here’s my combination: an altered vanilla cupcake recipe with the extra spices (although I halved the ingredients…don’t need that many cupcakes) […]

  46. […] Little Ones Will DevourRed Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe — Pinch My SaltNot just another vanilla cupcake recipe. Part I jQuery(document).ready(function(){ […]

  47. I am baking these right this moment and I don’t know how they’ll taste afterwards but the batter is DELICIOUS! :)

  48. While not the tteaisst cupcakes you've ever made, these were good and I'm bummed that they're all gone!

  49. […] Highly rated vanilla cake recipe […]

  50. this recipe is used to make poundcakes may be the reason some of you got that cornbread texture and taste when i try this i will reduce the eggs to 4 don’t like an eggy tasting cake

  51. Incredible! This blog looks just like my
    old one! It’s on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!

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