How to Make Homemade Yellow Cupcakes
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How to make MOIST cupcakes:
I always recommend weighing your flour when making cake or cupcakes. I use my digital kitchen scale to weigh flour, but if you don’t have one, use the “spoon and level” method to measure with measuring cups. This helps to prevent dry or crumbly cupcakes because it’s all too easy to accidentally compact too much flour into your volume measuring cups.
There are a few key ingredients in this recipe that help create a moist and tender cupcake. The eggs with an additional egg yolk add richness and moisture. The buttermilk also tenderizes as well as adding more flavor (more on that below).
Why is there butter and oil in this recipe?
The main key to ultra moist cupcakes is a little bit of oil! This recipe creams together sugar and butter like most cake recipes, which allows air to whip into the batter for a light texture, but also takes advantage of butter’s unparalleled rich flavor.
We add in a little bit of oil to the butter mixture not for flavor, but instead for MOISTURE! Oil is liquid at room temperature so it coats the palate and gives the sensation of tons of moisture to these cupcakes. It helps to create a texture more similar to box mix cupcakes without the artificial flavor.
I actually recently conducting a baking experiment of Butter vs. Oil in Baking to see how the type of fat used affects tenderness, flavor, and texture in baked goods. The results were SHOCKING. Check out the full article with more side-by-side comparisons like the one below here.
Why buttermilk is the secret ingredient to the best cupcakes:
The (real) buttermilk in this recipe makes a WORLD of difference. Buttermilk substitutions just don’t work as well. You can see my extensive testing on buttermilk substitutions in my Buttermilk 101 article here. For best results, I would advise using real buttermilk (which is sold as ‘low fat’ in the grocery store).
I’ve tested variations of this recipe with whole milk as well as sour cream. The whole milk doesn’t provide as much flavor as something cultured. The sour cream provided tons of flavor but made for a tighter, finer crumb. The goal for this recipe was something super tender and moist, and buttermilk was the clear winner for both texture and taste!
What is the best pan for baking cupcakes?
I like the Wilton Right Muffin Pans for baking cupcakes. Avoid using anything with a dark or gold colored lining as this can result in browning or burning the bottoms and edges of the cupcakes.
Note that every brand of muffin / cupcake pans will have cavities of a slightly different diameter and volume. Some pans have smaller cavities than others. Always fill yours with batter 2/3 to 3/4 full and not more.
How to stop cupcake liners from sticking:
Oftentimes this is due to the brand of liners either being cheap or overly decorative. This is my favorite brand that I order in bulk from Amazon. I’ve written an entire post on how to prevent cupcake liners from sticking here in case this is a common problem for you.
How to prevent cupcakes from sinking:
Overmixing, expired baking powder, opening the oven door too much, or under baking can all cause cupcakes to sink in the center.
Overfilling your cupcake pan cavities can also cause sinking. Fill 2/3 to 3/4 full. You may end up with more than a dozen cupcakes since every brand and style of cupcake pan has a slightly different cavity volume.
If you’re 3,000 feet or more above sea level, you’ll most likely need to reduce the baking powder in this recipe to avoid the cupcakes sinking or collapsing in the center. Start by cutting the amount of baking powder to 1 teaspoon if at 3,000 feet, and 3/4 teaspoon if at 5,000 feet or higher. This may require some experimentation depending on your specific microclimate.
How to decorate cupcakes:
To match the cupcakes you see in these photos, place the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a large plain open tip and pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Sprinkle with pastel rainbow sprinkles. You can also use an open star tip, like the Wilton 1M tip.
How to make Yellow Cupcakes ahead of time:
You can bake the cupcakes a day ahead of time. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Note that the tops of the cupcakes will become slightly sticky the longer they’re stored but the frosting mostly camouflages this.
The buttercream on its own can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or the freezer for up to 1 month. If frozen, let defrost in the fridge overnight. Let come to room temperature and re-whip in the stand mixer until light and fluffy again.
How to serve cupcakes outside:
If you plan on serving frosted cupcakes outside in a warm, humid, or sunny environment, store in the fridge just until you set up for the BBQ, party, or picnic. By the time everyone is ready for cupcakes, it should be the perfect temperature without running the risk of melting.
How to store cupcakes:
Frosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day, or in the fridge for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Other buttercream recipes: