Simple & Delicious Go-To Yellow Cupcakes w/ Coconut Buttercream Frosting

So I did Coconut Macadamia Nut Biscotti, and then I did Key Lime Pie with Passion Fruit Whipped Cream. In between, I have tested countless brownies and banana bread recipes. I have thought about posting them, but I would have several posts a day trying to keep up with all my trials and errors. There was something more important and more delicious that couldn’t wait. I decided these were worthy for your time to read about. I’ve been looking for a basic cupcake recipe that I could build off of. Something easy, that wouldn’t let me down. Something that made sense, and wasn’t just throwing things into the batter without telling me why that recipe was any better than the next. Of course, I found my answer in Baking Illustrated, what else? I consider it my bible to baking, because they provide me with reasons and explanations. I want baking to make sense to me, and I want to know why I’m doing what I’m doing with each recipe.

They claim they tested all the ways of making these basic cupcakes perfect, and what they decided was that you don’t need to cream the butter, you don’t need to add the flour mixture in 3 parts, etc etc etc–in other words, you take the easy way out and it actually comes out even better? That’s what they say. So I tried it. I didn’t believe them, but I went for it anyways. I actually made two batches, first the regular yellow cupcakes to make sure they actually were delicious as they were said to be. They absolutely were. Then I went a little crazy and added some cream of coconut, shredded coconut, lemon extract, and some passion fruit jam. The texture came out a little different, almost like the top slightly caramelized and there was a chew to them, but they were still really good. All I have to say is, I have found my go to yellow cupcake recipe. If you are a fan of one bowl recipes that don’t require fancy work but are tasty, this is definitely for you! You mix the dry ingredients together, and then mix in the wet ingredients. Easy!


Oh, just so you know, pastry bags are my enemy. I despise them…but I am envious of people who are good at piping frosting onto cupcakes. Let’s admit, they look much more appealing when they’re dressed nicely. I tried. I have a tiny little starter kit by Wilton’s and don’t feel worthy of anything better right now, but hopefully one day, I’ll have the confidence to tackle my decorating fear.

Yellow Cupcakes (with Passion Fruit alternative) with Coconut Buttercream Frosting – adapted from Baking Illustrated

Makes 12 cupcakes (or about 14 if you do the passion fruit alternative)
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin/cupcake tin with paper or foil liners.

  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature (cut into pieces)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature – separate egg while it’s still cold
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or whole plain yogurt, room temperature
  • For Passion Fruit Alternative (my boyfriend’s preferred choice, this will however make for 2 extra cupcakes, so 14 total)

  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract (minus 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream (or coconut milk, if you don’t have cream of coconut, but I would do 2 tablespoons instead of the 1/4 cup because the difference in texture)
  • 1/2 cup passion fruit jam
    Coconut Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) coconut cream
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted

1. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.

2. Divide batter evenly among cups of prepared tin using a heaping tablespoon or an ice cream scooper, until they are about 2/3 way full. Don’t fill all the way to the top of they will overflow. Bake until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Use skewer or paring knife to lift cupcakes from tin and transfer to wire rack; cool cupcakes to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

3. For Coconut Buttercream, beat the softened (not melted) unsalted butter with a mixer on medium speed for a couple of minutes, until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, so that it doesn’t clump, and fully mix in between additions. Once it’s fully incorporated, add the vanilla and coconut cream and mix until combined and at a nice frosting consistency.

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