I love living in Colorado, really. As some of you know, I used to live in Boston when I was in college, and I’m so happy to be back in home state, even though its been a few years since coming home. That being said, I really wish I could just pluck any recipe off Pinterest and bake it up perfect. Like, altitude really screws things up sometimes. (By sometimes, I mean nearly all the time).

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Baking cakes in a high altitude is tough. I can’t tell you how many cupcakes I have baked that have tasted really eggy, or been duper dense, almost like bread somehow. 

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That being said, it was my goal for many years to find the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe, and I found it! Actually, if I’m being honest, I found it like 4 years ago, and I’m just now sharing it. Whoops. 

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Anyways, I think the key for vanilla cake in a Denver altitude is finding the right balance between adding the flour that you need for structure, and still keeping the cakes moist. I’m using two different kinds of flour here- self rising and cake. The self rising flour just offers a good ratio of baking powder built right in, and the cake flour makes the crumb very tender and pretty fantastic. 

P.S.- did you see this epic baking dish my brother got me for my birthday??? 

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On the other end of the spectrum, I use sour cream to add moistness to the cake. It’s thick enough that it doesn’t mess with the structure too much, but it gives us the texture that we’re looking for in a great, simple cupcake. 

Vanilla cake is my favorite. I know chocolate is probably the main winner for most people, but I’ve never been a huge fan of chocolate cake. I still make it for lots of family and friends, like this chocolate bundt cake I made for my dad last year. But vanilla is my jam. 

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Usually I actually prefer vanilla frosting as well, but this chocolate buttercream is too good to pass up on a perfect vanilla cupcake. It’s fluffy, super chocolatey, and not too sweet. 

I hope you enjoy this one!

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Yield: 12 frosted cupcakes

Ingredients

  • For the cupcakes:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbs. milk
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbs. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3 tbs. heavy cream

Instructions

  • For the cupcakes:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a 12-cup muffin tin
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.
  • The mixture will be slightly lumpy.
  • Add in the self-rising flour, cake flour, and salt. Mix until combined, it will be a thick batter.
  • Mix in the milk until combined.
  • Scoop the batter evenly into your 12 muffin cups.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before frosting.
  • For the frosting:
  • Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder until thick and smooth.
  • Beat in the melted and cooled chocolate and mix until combined
  • Add in the heavy cream, and beat until fluffy.
  • Frost the cupcakes liberally.
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11 Comments

  1. Shanai

    June 26, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    These look amazingly delicious, love a good cupcake recipe… and your photos are really inspiring!

    Reply
    • nmespinosa12@gmail.com

      June 27, 2016 at 2:11 am

      Oh gee- thank you so much for the kind words! I'm so glad you enjoy the blog!

      Reply
  2. Shelly

    February 9, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    Tried two of your cupcake recipes today and this one was another winner! Iโ€™m so glad to have found your site. At one time I used to love to bake but the altitude has made me not really love it anymore. Thank you for your wonderful recipes so I can bake again. Canโ€™t wait for your cookbook to come out!

    Reply
    • Dough-Eyed

      February 9, 2018 at 10:55 pm

      Hi Shelly! I'm so glad you found my site too, and that the recipes have worked well for you!! Thanks so much for the kind words. I can't wait for the book either- eeee! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  3. Bianca

    April 21, 2018 at 3:00 am

    Hi, I'm hoping to make these comments and I have a couple of questions. I'm assuming butter is unsalted? Also what kind of cocoa powder and dark chocolate do you use? Thanks I really don't want to mess these up for my daughter's birthday ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • Dough-Eyed

      April 23, 2018 at 1:45 pm

      Hi Bianca! To answer your questions- unsalted butter is correct. For these I just use Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder, which is always available in my normal grocery store, but I've also made it with regular cocoa powder and either will work beautifully! Same for the dark chocolate- I would go with one that you generally like the taste of! I almost always use Nestle Tolehouse brand dark chocolate chips! I hope this helps!!

      Reply
      • Bianca

        April 25, 2018 at 1:57 am

        Thank you for the tips and ignoring my typo ๐Ÿ™‚

        Reply
  4. Quinshawnta George

    February 15, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    Hi! I also live in colorado. I keep noticing that the top of my cupcake becomes slightly crunchy. Is thay normal! Am i making a mistake with the sugar?? i also notice that it seems to have a lot of air bubbles. Even with the olโ€™tap-a-tap-a. Am I beating him my eggs too much?? Thanks!!! Also, these taste great!!!

    Reply
    • Dough-Eyed

      February 19, 2019 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Quinshawnta! So if you're seeing a crunchy top, your oven may be too hot. First, I'd recommend getting an oven thermometer if you don't have one already just to see if it's running at the right temp or not. Then, I'd try baking them at a lower temperature, by 25 degrees, which means they will take longer to bake fully. As for the air bubbles, this recipe will have SOME air bubbles, but if you are seeing too many, then yes, you might be overbeating! I hope that helps!!

      Reply
  5. Jessie

    April 24, 2019 at 2:32 am

    Hi there.. this recipe looks great. Canโ€™t wait to try it. But where I live (at 5,000 feet and out of the country) self rising flour does not exist. Any recommendation on baking powder measurement? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Dough-Eyed

      May 5, 2019 at 8:49 pm

      Hi Jessie! Yes, so for every one cup of flour, use 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder!

      Reply

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