One of the many things I love about my job are the rather frequent office bake-offs. Since I started back in March of 2012, the challenges have included carrot cake, rum cake, lime pie, chocolate chip cookies, vegan cake, cake art and blueberry pie; and though I love baking, I never participated. The latest challenge was vanilla cupcakes, and I jumped at the opportunity to be the rogue entry. After some pretty thorough recipe research, I settled on Pastry Affair's vanilla cupcake, and a classic vanilla bean buttercream. Though I didn't end up winning, I'm thrilled that I've now found my perfect and delicious vanilla cupcake (piping skills however, still need some work)!

VANILLA CUPCAKES // makes 48 minis (or half as many normal size)

Adapted from Pastry Affair

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking pan with baking cups.


1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup non-fat greek plain yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups cup cake flour*
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
2/3 cup milk

*2 cups cake flour = 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour + 1/4 cup cornstarch

What to do:

In the bowl of an electric mixture, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Add the yogurt, oil and vanilla and continue to mix.

Combine the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and gradually add it to the mixture. Stir in the milk, and continue mixing until the batter is smooth.

Fill the baking cups and 2/3 full, and bake for 10-12 minutes. Watch closely and check at 10 minutes to guarantee you don't over-bake them. Once removed from oven, transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

VANILLA BEAN BUTTERCREAM ICING // makes enough to frost 24 minis


1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
seeds from 1 vanilla bean (great tutorial here)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk

What to do:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and icing sugar until creamy. Add vanilla bean, vanilla extract and milk and continue mixing until combined. If necessary, add more icing sugar to thicken, or more milk to loosen.

Happy frosting!