Perfect White Cupcake: Recipe for Vanilla Bean Sour Cream Cupcakes

Birthday Recipes, Cakes and Cupcakes, Dessert, Holiday Recipes | 25 comments

Last week I was all about finding the Perfect White Cupcakes for a certain someone’s fourth birthday party that we had this past Saturday. It was a week long adventure for sure!

There were several batches baked and tweaked, frustrated phone calls to Jamie from My Baking Addiction, and more tweaks. It turns out I had a high altitude dilemma on my hands. I don’t bake cupcakes a lot and depending on the recipe, I often get lucky, but this time around it did not work out so well.

vanilla bean sour cream cupcakes

Circus Tent Cupcake Decorating Tips

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We had an adorable Circus/Carnival themed birthday party for Madeline (more details to follow later this week) and I knew that I wanted a moist, Vanilla Cupcake recipe for the party so I could do two-toned frosting in the party colors on top so they would somewhat resemble a Circus tent.

I used a combination of red, yellow, and turquoise striped cupcake wrappers and frosted each with a coordinating color combo: white and red swirls, yellow and white swirls, and turquoise and white swirls.

Decorating Tools Used:

perfect white cupcake vanilla bean sour cream cupcake recipe

The final cupcake recipe turned out delicious! Everyone, including perfectionist me, loved them. It was well worth the effort. I love the slight tang that the sour cream offers the cupcakes and how incredibly moist they are. These Vanilla Bean Sour Cream Cupcakes will definitely be my new go-to Perfect White Cupcake Recipe.

Please Note: I have not personally tested this recipe at sea level. I live at around 5,300 feet elevation and made tweaks to the original recipe, which you can find credited in the recipe’s print box.

More Yummy Cupcakes

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Vanilla Bean Sour Cream Cupcakes

cupcakes heavily adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

Vanilla Buttercream via Jamie

Makes approximately 18-20 cupcakes

Print Save Recipe


For the Vanilla Bean Sour Cream Cupcakes:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
4 large egg whites, room temperature
seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Vanilla Bean Buttercream:
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (to maintain the bright white color)
1 ½ pounds (24 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk


For the Vanilla Bean Sour Cream Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the racks in the center position. Line cupcake tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl whisk together the milk, sour cream, and egg whites. Set aside.

Fit a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or use a hand mixer (I got a better dome with the hand mixer). Add the butter, sugar and vanilla to the bowl and beat at medium speed for 3 minutes, or until light. Scrape the sides as necessary.

Add the vanilla extract and one third of the flour mixture while beating on medium speed, again scraping the sides as needed. Beat in half of the sour cream mixture. Alternately add the remaining flour mixture and sour cream until all the wet and dry ingredients have added, beating until the batter fully incorporated and smooth.

Use a large scoop (about 3 tablespoons), evenly divide the batter between 18 lined muffin tins filling each about 2/3 of the way full.

Bake for 15-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean. Cool on wire rack.

For the Vanilla Bean Buttercream:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the butter and vanilla bean seeds. Beat until fluffy. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the confectioners' sugar while continuing to beat.

Once well blended, add in the vanilla and 4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk. Mix on low speed until well combined and moist. If desired, an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until your desired consistency is reached. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Pipe or decorate as desired. See Two Tone Frosting for Cupcakes and Cupcake Piping Tricks for piping tips.

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids - September 19, 2011 @ 6:04 am

    I am a cupcake perfectionist, too. I cannot wait to try these. The pictures are just beautiful!


  • 2
    thelittleloaf - September 19, 2011 @ 6:22 am

    I can’t get over how awesome that two-tone frosting is! Have just clicked through to your tutorial and next time I make cupcakes I’m giving this a go. Your daughter is very lucky to have such a wonderful baking mum :-)


  • 3
    TidyMom - September 19, 2011 @ 6:37 am

    These are beautiful Katie!


  • 4
    Suzi - September 19, 2011 @ 6:37 am

    You mention your initial difficulty was “high altitude dilemma”. I assume you made adjusted to compensate but just what did you do? I tend to only decrease the baking powder, add a half egg shell of extra water, reduce the sugar a little, and up the temperature. See for specifics. Does the table look about right? Thanks for your input.


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — September 20th, 2011 @ 12:41 PM

      I did decrease the baking powder. I’m not an expert on high altitude baking so I can’t say anything regarding your table. I had to do a lot of research to tweak the recipe and achieve desired results. I plan on doing a post on what I learned and how I tweaked the recipe to change certain things.

  • 5
    Lindsay @ Schnoodle Soup - September 19, 2011 @ 6:45 am

    Your photos are gorgeous! These look delish! Madeline is one lucky little girl :smile:


  • 6
    Jackie @ La Casa de Sweets - September 19, 2011 @ 6:54 am

    So pretty! I’m sure it was a great birthday :)


  • 7
    Deborah - September 19, 2011 @ 9:23 am

    These are absolutely beautiful!! I’ve had a hard time finding a recipe that works every time for cupcakes – I need to give these a try!!


  • 8
    Kristen - September 19, 2011 @ 9:43 am

    How fun – love the pretty colors! Hope she had a great birthday and loved the pony!


  • 9
    Amanda - September 19, 2011 @ 9:53 am

    This recipe is wonderful Katie… and your pictures are just stunning!! I thought I was opening the recipe page of Donna Hay! (only yours are better!)

    Great job!


  • 10
    Heather of Kitchen Concoctions - September 19, 2011 @ 10:27 am

    Beautiful cupcakes and photos!


  • 11
    sara - September 19, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

    Gorgeous cupcakes! Love the photos, they’re so pretty! :)


  • 12
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen - September 19, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

    I love the tang of sour cream in baked goods too. I just love that swirled frosting too, they look perfect. I hope the birthday girl enjoyed the party!


  • 13
    laura - September 19, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

    beautiful cupcakes! so glad you were able to find a recipe/make adjustments that worked for altitude. i moved from baking at sea level for years to living at about 5,500 feet and there’s nothing like the realization that your old recipes just don’t work any more. cakes are the hardest!


  • 14
    Tracy - September 19, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

    These sound perfect Katie, and of course, loving the two-toned frosting!!


  • 15
    Sharon {Grumpy, Sleepy, and Bashful} - September 19, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

    Sounds like you finally came up with the perfect recipe! Thanks for sharing your beautiful cupcakes! Those pictures are amazing. Sour cream is fantastic in baking.

    I love to use buttermilk, too. It’s in my grandmother’s coffeecake, recipe, which I dare say is the best I’ve had!


  • 16
    Loraine - September 19, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

    I am honored to say I got to try them at Madeline’s birthday party, they were truly delicious!!


  • 17
    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction - September 20, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

    These cupcakes look amazing! I haven’t made white cupcakes in a while… I think I need to fix that ASAP!


  • 18
    Robyn | Add a Pinch - September 21, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

    I saw photos of the party setup on Instagram and couldn’t wait to see more from it, Katie. I know y’all had a wonderful time!


  • 19
    Corey Organic - September 22, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

    These look so absolutely delicious! I adore cupcakes. I can’t wait to make them! Your daughter’s birthday party looked amazing as well. What a great idea.


  • 20
    Cara Mucci - October 01, 2012 @ 9:52 am

    Is this the recipe adjusted for the high altitude….or is this the regular recipe


  • 21
    Meg - January 20, 2013 @ 7:05 pm

    I was on the hunt for the perfect vanilla cupcake for my daughter’s first birthday party…I don’t need to look any further, for this is it!!! I made these cupcakes tonight…delish…they were light, delicate and moist. I baked them for 14-15 minutes and they were perfect. This will be the cupcake recipe I will be using for her party and my “go to” cupcake recipe for now on. Thank you, thank you!


  • 22
    Stephanie - January 21, 2013 @ 10:56 am

    I used this recipe to make a small cake and cupcakes for my son’s 1st birthday. I live in Denver, CO and was having trouble finding a recipe that didn’t turn out dry in the high altitude. These turned out perfect!! So yummy and super moist! I added a raspberry filling to some and they were delicious. This will be my new go-to recipe for vanilla cake/cupcakes. Thank you!!!


  • 23
    Jessica - March 14, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

    I don’t usually leave comments but I HAVE to for this recipe! I’ve been looking for a white cupcake recipe that uses sour cream for my cherry pie cupcake creation and this was PERFECT! I just omitted the vanilla bean and added an extra egg white and followed the rest to a T. This was by far the best cupcake I have ever eaten! I filled mine with cherry pie filling and made a cherry and graham cracker cream cheese frosting I’ve been in heaven ever since. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!


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