Looking to recreate your favorite yellow cake mix from scratch? These Small Batch Yellow Cupcakes with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting is the perfect size if you’re looking to bake cupcakes for two people.
Do you remember when the world went crazy for cupcakes? So much that a bunch of cupcake-only bakeries opened up.
I also went through the cupcake phase. I had a huge ceramic cupcake collection and a cupcake ornament Christmas tree. I even had plans to get a cupcake tattoo, but I never went through with it.
For a few years, I lived about 2 hours away from Washington D.C. so I visited a lot of cupcakeries there. I wonder how many of them are still operating today?
Now my ceramic cupcake collection is down to only a few favorites. I still have most of my cupcake ornaments, but I tidied the generic ones and expanded to include other non-cupcake ornaments I love.
Still no cupcake tattoo and probably never will at this point. I have other tattoos but not food related.
With the quarantine happening and people are at home baking, I realized I don’t have many basic small batch cupcake recipes on my blog like I do with my small 6 inch cake recipes.
That got me thinking – my Small 6 Inch Yellow Cake is so popular, I decided to turn the recipe into homemade Small Batch Yellow Cupcakes.
Made 100 percent from scratch. Not a trace of cake mix to be found.
To decorate, I used chocolate buttercream frosting and lots of rainbow sprinkles. After all what’s a cupcake without sprinkles?
What is yellow cake?
Yellow cake gets its name from using butter and whole eggs, which helps with the cake’s yellow color (compared to white cake where you use only egg whites).
Quite frankly, it’s a vanilla cake made with whole eggs.
In other words, yellow cake and vanilla cake are the same. It depends on whether you want the richness (and color) from the yolks or stick with all whites.
How To Make Homemade Yellow Cupcakes From Scratch
To make yellow cupcakes without cake mix, first you cream together your butter and sugar.
Next, beat in your egg and vanilla. The mixture may look slightly curdled, but keep going.
To finish the cupcake batter, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions (begin and end with dry ingredients).
Fill 8 paper liners with the batter then bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
How To Substitute For Buttermilk
My store sells a pint of buttermilk, so I didn’t have to worry about wasting it.
However, if you do find yourself with a quart, check out my leftover buttermilk recipes.
But if you really don’t want to buy buttermilk, you can substitute 1/3 cup whole milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes or until the milk looks curdled.
Why are my cupcakes overflowing?
The most challenging part about baking cupcakes is making sure you don’t overfill (or underfill) the paper liners before baking.
Too much batter and the cupcakes will overflow, flatten, and sometimes even sink in the middle after cooling.
Too little batter and they won’t rise to the top of the liner.
I find with this yellow cupcake recipe, you want to fill the liners about halfway full.
What I do is measure a one big scoop into the bottom of 8 liners then I go back and finish filling each one with the remaining batter.
This helps me distribute the batter more evenly so the last cupcake has just as much batter at the first. I hate when you get to the end and realize you don’t have enough batter left.
What is the best frosting for yellow cupcakes?
In my mind, the perfect pairing is my Small Batch Chocolate Frosting. They complement each other well without being too rich.
However, if you’re not a chocolate person you can use my Small Batch Buttercream Frosting.
Both recipes make enough to decorate your cupcakes without having leftovers.
How To Store Cupcakes
To store cupcakes, place them in an airtight container (deep enough so you don’t mess up the frosting). Let them sit at room temperature for up to 1 week.
You don’t need to refrigerate yellow cupcakes unless it’s really warm and your frosting starts to melt or you want them to last longer.
Let sit at room temperature for about 15-30 minutes before serving to get rid of the chill.
Can you freeze yellow cupcakes?
Like with most cakes, yes you can freeze yellow cupcakes.
To freeze unfrosted cupcakes, place them on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour. Once firm, wrap each one in plastic wrap then stick in a freeze-safe plastic bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
If you’re worried they’ll get squashed in the freezer, you can put the plastic bag in a container to maintain their shape.
How To Freeze Frosted Cupcakes
Although I recommend freezing unfrosted cupcakes, you can also freeze frosted cupcakes.
Use a buttercream frosting as that type of frosting freezes best. Cream cheese frosting can become grainy after freezing, although it’ll still be edible.
To freeze frosted cupcakes, place them on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour. Once firm, place each one in a deep enough container that won’t squash the frosting. Freeze for up to 3 months.
How To Thaw Frozen Cupcakes
To thaw frozen cupcakes, place them on a wire rack and let them come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
The wire rack helps keep the cupcake bottoms dry as they thaw.
More Small Batch Cupcake Recipes
Love to bake cupcakes? Here are more recipes for small batch cupcakes:
- Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes
- Small Batch Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Small Batch Strawberry Cupcakes
- Small Batch Angel Food Cupcakes
For a full list of recipes, check out my Small Batch Cupcake Recipes guide.
- 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature (or substitute whole milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar)
- Small Batch Chocolate Frosting - get the recipe here
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cupcake pan with 8 paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Beat in the egg and vanilla (it will look curdled).
- Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, adding the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions (begin and end with dry ingredients).
- Transfer the batter to the cupcake liners, filling them halfway full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs (no wet batter). Cool for about 15 minutes then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Frost with Small Batch Chocolate Frosting (get recipe here).