How do you improve on the ultimate?  When you think of the ultimate cupcake many options can come to mind, so Ari and I tried to narrow the search, but we first had to give ourselves some guidelines.

Our mothers birthday was this past week and we were going to visit her for the long weekend, so we tried to think if she was going to create an ultimate cupcake what would it be. Once again many options presented themselves, so we narrowed our search once again. We started with deciding on the cake flavor, and went with The Cupcake Projects Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake. Which, we have to say we agree, is the ultimate! This recipe has everything you would want in a vanilla cake and missing those things you wouldn’t want. This cake has no corn bread like texture or flavor which can be rampant in the vanilla cake world.

Again I ask, how do you improve on the ultimate vanilla cupcake? We wanted a very sophisticated flavor combination. So, we combined the vanilla cupcake with a fig and ginger preserve filling and a anise flavored european buttercream. If that doesn’t spell out sophistication, I don’t know what does.

Technical Tip

For the Anise European Buttercream we followed our favorite european buttercream recipe, but for flavoring added only 1 teaspoon anise extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. We used our favorite store bought fig and ginger preserves, but it is quite easy to make if you want to give it a go.

Many people have an aversion to anise (licorice) flavor, but the combination of the fig and ginger preserves and vanilla creates an unbeatable combination that even a non anise lover can quite possibly enjoy. To add a little festivity to these cupcakes we added some licorice pastels on top!

The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake
Recipe type: Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yields: 20-24
  • 1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1¾ cups (175 grams) cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup (75 grams) full-fat sour cream
  • ¼ cup canola oil or vegetable oil (60 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon pure (not imitation) vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup (160 ml) whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean.
  3. Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
  6. Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. You'll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
  7. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  8. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
  9. Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquid.
  10. Fill cupcake liners just over ½ full.
  11. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until done.
  12. Remove them immediately from the tins and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Link to the original recipe at the cupcake project: