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Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

Okay, so the title might be a little bit of an exaggeration….Or is it?I’ve been baking since before I could read, but my real love for baking started surfacing around 8th or 9th grade when I started making cakes & cupcakes for all my friends’ birthdays. Soon, I was exclusively making cupcakes, though they were often from boxed mix because I was a busy student and didn’t always have a ride to the grocery store to buy special ingredients before I got my driver’s license.

When I finally decided it would be a good idea to start baking scratch cupcakes, I realized a big problem. Most cake/cupcake cookbooks don’t have that great of recipes. I think this is mostly due to the fact that one author is trying too hard to fill a whole book with recipes that they sacrifice quality of the recipe for quantity of recipes.

I especially wanted to find a GOOD vanilla cake recipe, which was much harder than it probably sounds.

When my mom gave me a clipping from the LA Times a couple weeks ago with a recipe for vanilla cupcakes (from Joan’s on Third, which I’ve never had), I was skeptical. I thought they would come out too dense, too dry, or have the horrible deflated tops that so many cupcakes come out with. I was pleasantly surprised with the result though! Moist, light, not too sweet, this is the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe and one I’ll be sure to keep around for a while. The frosting? I decided to test out Sprinkles’s strawberry buttercream recipe I’ve seen floating around here and there on the internet. I used a bit more strawberry puree and a bit less powdered sugar than the original recipe called for, and the result was a delicious, gooey frosting that complimented the cake perfectly.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Adapted from Joan’s on Third


  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (5.84 ounces) flour
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 2 eggs


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour with the bakning powder and salt. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the milk and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add in the sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  4. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until fully incorporated. Beat in the flour and milk mixtures, alternating one-third of each at a time, until each mixture is fully incorporated and the batter is smooth.
  5. Fill each muffin cup three-fourths full of batter. Bake the cupcakes until puffed, set and lightly golden, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.
  6. Cool the cupcakes before frosting.

Strawberry Buttercream

Adapted from Sprinkles


  • 1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners’ sugar; beat until well combined.
  3. Add vanilla and 4 tablespoons strawberry puree; mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

And now I’m off to the Philippines & Vietnam for three weeks! Hurray!


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