Classic Birthday Cupcakes
Classic Birthday Cupcakes

Classic Birthday Cupcakes

Nostalgic for adults and ideal for kids, these cupcakes will sweep anyone who remembers the boxed yellow cake of childhood off their feet. The tender vanilla cupcakes are complemented by their rich chocolate frosting, making them a welcome addition to any celebration — especially birthdays!

1 hr
26 to 30 mins
2 hrs 20 mins
28 cupcakes
Classic Birthday Cupcakes - select to zoom
Classic Birthday Cupcakes - select to zoom
Classic Birthday Cupcakes - select to zoom
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  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the center. Line standard muffin pans with cupcake papers and grease them lightly. Note: This recipe makes 28 cupcakes, so unless you have three pans you'll need to bake in batches.

  2. To make the batter: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.

    Classic Birthday Cake – Step 2
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

  4. In a large mixing bowl, either using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract until thickened and light gold in color, about 2 minutes at medium-high speed. If your stand mixer doesn’t have a whisk attachment, beat for 5 minutes using the flat beater attachment. The batter should fall in thick ribbons from the beater or whisk.

    Classic Birthday Cake – Step 4
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture in the bowl and mix (by hand or at low speed of your mixer) just enough to combine. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then mix again briefly to fully incorporate any residual flour or sticky bits.

    Classic Birthday Cake – Step 5
  6. In a saucepan set over medium heat or in the microwave, bring the milk just to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and oil, stirring by hand until the butter has melted.

  7. With your mixer set at low speed, slowly mix the hot milk mixture to the batter. Scrape the bowl and mix briefly, just until smooth.

    Classic Birthday Cake – Step 7
  8. Divide the batter evenly among the wells of the muffin pans, using a scant 1/4 cup in each; a muffin scoop works well here. 

  9. To bake the cupcakes: Bake the cupcakes for about 25 to 28 minutes; the tops should feel set and spring back when pressed lightly with your finger, and the edges will have just started to turn golden brown. Note that these cupcakes won't dome but will remain flat — making them ideal for topping with lots of frosting!

  10. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and carefully turn them out of the pan onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

  11. To make the frosting: In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, stir together the cocoa, 1 cup (113g) of the confectioners’ sugar, and the salt. Stir in the water and vanilla, scraping the bowl if necessary.

    Classic Birthday Cake – Step 10
  12. Add the butter and remaining confectioners’ sugar, stirring to combine. Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer with beater attachment, beat the frosting at medium-high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until lightened in color and fluffy, stopping halfway through to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. When the frosting is ready, scoop out a bit on your spatula; does it seem nicely spreadable? If it's too stiff, beat in water 1 teaspoon at a time until it's the consistency you want.

    Classic Birthday Cake – Step 11
  13. To finish the cupcakes: Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with your tip of choice; an open star tip works especially well here. Use the pastry bag to pipe a heaping 3 to 4 tablespoons (45g to 55g) of frosting on each cupcake, as desired.

    Classic Birthday Cupcakes – Step 13
  14. Garnish with sprinkles, chocolate curls, or the decoration of your choice before serving.

    Classic Birthday Cupcakes – Step 14
  15. Storage information: Cover the cupcakes and store them at room temperature for up to three days; in the refrigerator, well wrapped, for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month.

Tips from our Bakers

  • This frosting recipe yields a generous 6 cups, enough to pipe a professional-looking swirl atop each cupcake. If you prefer less frosting on your cupcakes (like those shown below), decrease the ingredients by about a third, using these new quantities:
    -  1 cup (84g) natural cocoa
    -  4 cups (454g) confectioners' sugar, divided
    -  1/4 teaspoon salt
    -  1/3 cup (74g) hot water
    -  1 tablespoon (14g) vanilla extract
    -  16 tablespoons (227g) butter, softened

    Prepare the frosting as described above, and use about 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons (30g to 35g) frosting on each cupcake.

    Classic Birthday Cupcakes – Tip