Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream

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A platter of vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream

These vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and salted caramel are one of my favourites from when I owned the Cupcake Kitchen. They are light and fluffy and perfect with buttercream frosting. I added salted caramel because the combination with vanilla buttercream is irresistible.

Three years ago I started the first online cupcake business in Cape Town called ‘The Cupcake Kitchen’ and I had so much fun with my first little business venture.  I had been to London and Anuga in October 2007 and saw firsthand the excitement around cupcakes.

I spent the initial 6 months scouring the Internet and doing research on all cupcake businesses I could click on in the world. I tested dozens of recipes until I found what I perceived to be the best.

I conjured up many exciting variations and combinations, but in the end, over the two-and-a-half-odd years, I baked these whimsical and magical little cakes, at least 90% of my orders were for chocolate and vanilla.

I needed a recipe that delivered the perfect taste and texture, but one that was also user-friendly to make since I baked every single cupcake myself, and sometimes up to 700 per day.  I adapted and simplified many of the baking methods, and this vanilla cupcake recipe is one of them.

So many people I meet seem afraid of baking as if it is a mysterious and difficult skill to master.  It can be tricky, but I have found that once you understand a few of the basic principles and practice doing it a lot, you kind of develop an almost six sense around it.  I love the fact that it is precise, it more or less guarantees the results, and when you have a solid recipe in place, it’s the base from which you can start playing with variations and flavours.

Feel free to omit the salted caramel and frost cupcakes with vanilla buttercream.

You might also like:

My best baking recipes

mix up the decorations

salted caramel recipe click here

The recipes make 28 – 32 depending on how you fill the cases

Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream & salted caramel

Light and fluffy vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and salted caramel recipe.
Print Recipe
A platter of vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:20 minutes


  • vanilla cupcakes: I use this recipe to make a standard vanilla sponge cake too
  • 220 gms 2 sticks of butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups /400gms granulated sugar
  • 4 large free-range eggs at room temperature
  • 3 cups/360gm cake flour flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup/ 250ml milk
  • vanilla buttercream: 
  • 5.5 cups icing sugar
  • 270 gms butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 F)
  • ream the sugar and the butter in an electric mixer until light and fluffy
  • Add each egg one at a time, mixing well after each addition * TIP: I always break the egg in a small separate bowl in case any shell breaks off you can fish it out before adding to the mix
  • Its almost impossible to overmix at this stage – so I let it go until the mixture has become very light and fluffy
  • In another bowl sift together the flour and baking powder
  • Turn the mixer to a low setting and slowly add the milk and flour in 3 parts, allowing it to blend a bit before adding the next bit
  • Do not over-mix! I literally mix until all the ingredients are just combined
  • Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and mix by hand a few turns to get it all in
  • I use an ice cream scoop which makes this step so much easier. Scoop the batter into muffin pans that have been lined with paper cups. You want to fill the liner to roughly 3/4 of the way up
  • Bake for 20 minutes until the cupcakes are just turning golden brown
  • Allow to cool on the pan before removing to decorate

To make the icing:

  • Place all the icing ingredients into a bowl and mix on medium to high until it becomes white and fluffy.


Leftover cupcakes can be stored in a sealed container for 3 – 4 days.
Servings: 28
Author: Sam Linsell


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  1. YUMMY! I think these would be divine!

  2. Sam, these look amazing! What I’d do to get me hands on one of them right now…the dripping caramel..oh oh! Beautifully photographed too.

  3. Oh wow. Really? You went there? All that caramel’s making me wanna go stuff my face. I hate you. Well, not really, my butt does. I kinda luv u for showing me those super yum cupcakes. Beautiful pics!

  4. Happy New Year!! Thank you once again for your birthday tweet. These vanilla cupcakes with salted caramel look so delicious. It’s begging my name. Thank you for sharing the recipe!! Love your Friday Food porn Posts, by the way!

  5. Classic and absolutely darling to look at! Great recipe & photos.

  6. Aaagh! I’d love to make these… Any chance you can provide the gram/ounce measurements for the recipe?

  7. Hi Kirsty, Im afraid I have not worked out the weights on the dry ingredients for this recipe and work in cups. Shake the cup very gently so as not to compact the flour. It really is so easy you just need a 250ml measure for a cup.

  8. These look delicious, i love the idea of the salted caramel. The craze has definitely passed, but there are some magic treats that will always be popular!

  9. These are just gorgeous. Almost too pretty to eat!

  10. Ah that’s amazing thanks! We don’t really use cup measuremnts in Scotland! It makes understanding recipes a little more complicated sometimes, but I had no idea you could simply use a 250 ml measure for each “cup”, regardless of the ingredient. I am enlightened – thanks!

  11. Hi Kirsty, Yes 250ml cup is the same for any ingredient. I do not like to measasure butter in a cup as many American recipes call for, and we dont have our butter packed in ‘sticks’ as they do in the US. So I converted all the butter measurements:
    Butter conversion/ measuring info:

    2 cups = 4 sticks = 1 pound
    1 cup = 2 sticks = 1/2 pound (8oz or 226gms)
    1 stick = 113gms
    1/2 cup = 1 stick = 1/4 pound
    1/4 cup = 1/2 stick = 4 tablespoons


  12. can you half the ingredients for the cupcakes for this will it still workout ?

  13. Hi food, yes you can halve this recipe and I have done it often. It makes about 15 cupcakes.

  14. Hi Sam

    These look amazing!!! Just one thing the link for the salted caramel recipe seems to be broken, could you maybe give it to me?

  15. I made the salted caramel yesterday (delish!) – and now have a huge jar left over. How long will it keep in the fridge for?

  16. Hi Leanne, it keeps for ages. I in fact don’t even keep it in my fridge. I’d say a couple of months at least.

  17. So delicious…! Amazing
    I want try this……. 😉

  18. these look amazing! do you think it would work as a round cake as well? would i need to lower the temp?

  19. Hi Jen, this make a double layer cake (use 2 pans) and you would keep the same temp and just bake for longer until done – prob around 40 minutes (but don’t take my word for it). a cake is done when a skewer is inserted into it and comes out clean, or springs back when you touch it.

  20. Sam, what size eggs do you use in this recipe?

  21. Hi Jules, always large

  22. Daniela Krstic says:

    Hello. I’m wondering if I can make these the day before? How will the caramel hold up at room temp? Thank youu.

  23. Yes it will absolutely last for weeks

  24. Which type of flour should we use, plain or self raising?

  25. HI Simone – the recipe says flour – so that would be plain flour.

  26. Denise Botha says:

    Hi Sam, what type of sugar do you use for this recipe?

  27. HI Denise, regular granulated sugar.

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