How to Make the Ugliest Best Tasting Vanilla Cupcake

I know, I KNOW!!! I’m on a cupcake kick right now!  Just enjoy it, it will pass.  I just had to share one of my all time favorite white cake recipes.  I love the taste of this cake and I triple-dipple love the texture.  I’ve made it maybe a dozen times and every time there is one teensey-weensy little issue.  While it’s baking in the oven the batter always lifts up to the sky, bubbles over the sides and falls leaving a crater in the center.  I’ve tried a few tricks like lightly slamming the batter filled cupcake pan on the counter top several times before placing it in the oven.  This is supposed to get any bubbles out but it doesn’t work. I’ve also messed with the amount of baking powder but to no avail.

Why oh why would I want to share my tragic cupcakes that turn out looking like this with you?

Inside this ugly duckling of a cupcake lays the best tasting vanilla cake

Inside this ugly duckling of a cupcake lies the best tasting vanilla cake eV-er!

Because, my dear readers, it is still a luscious tasting experience.  AND the last time I made them I added something that made them even better!  Remember the chocolate cupcakes that had the rich drop of ganache in the center?  Well now I’m doing something similar with these!


Vanilla cupcakes

  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1/3 c buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 c spooned and  leveled cake flour
  • 1 1/2c sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (1 3/4 if your below 6,000 feet in altitude)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp slightly softened unsalted butter cut into chunks
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1/2 c heavy cream

Ganache filling

  •    2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely

I use Ghirardelli Bittersweet chocolate chips and chop them up in the coffee grinder

  • 1/4 c heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar (AKA powdered sugar)

 Whipped icing

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 c heavy cream


Ganache filling

1) Put the chocolate, cream and confectioners’ sugar in a medium size microwavable-safe bowl.

2) Microwave until it’s warm to the touch.  I set the microwave timer for 30 seconds, stop it every 10 seconds-whisk the mixture-put it back in, repeat.

3)  Whisk it completely so there are no chocolate chunks.  Put it in the  refrigerator no longer then 30 minutes.

For the cupcakes

1)  Put your oven rack on the middle section and pre-heat it to 350 degrees.  Get your cupcake pan out and drop the liners in. I find this makes about 15-17 cupcakes.

2)  In a medium bowl stir the eggs, yolks, 3 tsp of the buttermilk and the vanilla together.  Set to the side.

3)  In your mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt using the whisk attachment.  Mix on low speed for 30 seconds.  add the butter and oil and the remaining 2 tbsp buttermilk.  Mix on low spped to moisten the dry ingredients and then increase to a medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes.

4)  Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl.  Add 1/3 of the egg mixture and beat for 20 seconds.  Repeat, adding thirds until all of the egg mixture is incorporated.  Scrape down the sides and bottom each time.

5)  In a cold bowl with cold beaters, whip the cream until soft peaks form when the beater is lifted up.  Beat just a little beyond this soft peak stage.  Stir about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the batter to lighten it.  Fold the rest of the whipped cream into the batter.

6)  Pour the batter into the cupcake pans.  I use a ice cream scoop filling them just over 1/2 way.  Drop the pan onto the counter to knock the bubbles out.

7)  Place the cupcake pans into the oven. They should be ready in about 20 minutes  but will take less time at lower altitudes. It’s ready when you can put a toothpick in the center and  it comes out clean.

8)  Take the cupcakes out and let cool before frosting.

9)  Once cooled take the ganache and scoop out with a spoon.  Drop into the crater on top of your cupcake.

Making the frosting

1) Place a stainless metal bowl and the whisk attachment of your mixer into the freezer.  Let it stay there for at least 10 minutes.

2)  Get all your ingredients ready.  When you pull the bowl and whisk attachment out you want to GO!

3)  In your freezing cold mixing bowl place the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and almond extract and mix at a high level until you get those lovey stiff peaks.  Stop and scrape the bowl.  Repeat for a few more seconds.

4)  Mound a good amount on the top of each cupcake.

Mike:  Yeah, I noticed that no one seems to complain at the hodge-podge nature of these cupcakes.

Molly: I know! and you can hide so much (ganache) under the light frosting!


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Here’s a few other spots we are sharing this cupcake that looks like it got hit with the ugly stick recipe:

Hearth and Soul



  1. Nino
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes the imperfect is the most perfect! When do we get to taste some?

    I just got back from a trip to my cousins (Molly’s second cousins) in Kentucky.  One of them (Frannie) gave me a recipe for SALT-RISING BREAD.  I loved it when Grannie (Molly’s great grandmother) made it–I slathered it in warm butter and sprinkled sugar on it–HMMM GOOD.  Here’s a recipe from the Internet that Frannie thinks is the best she’s tasted:

    I will make some in the near future and let you know how it tastes.

    • Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      We’ll have a taste off!  I remember as a kid my favorite treat was Wonder white bread with butter and sugar toasted.  You kept the bread in the freezer and I could only partake it on special occasions!

  2. Posted May 31, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    They don’t have to be beautiful to taste wonderful – and your cupcakes sound amazing! I always enjoy filled cupcakes – the filling is such a nice surprise! Thank you for sharing this delicious post with the Hearth and Soul hop. 

  3. Posted June 4, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    I love it! I share my ugly food too, because it is not what it looks like  that matters, it is what it tastes like! I am featuring your cupcake on my highlights this week.

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