A good basic yellow cake is a must in any baker’s repertoire. But getting the right combination of flavour, texture, and moistness is not easy. Thank goodness for King Arthur Baking. This is my favourite of their recipes for making vanilla cupcakes. Its texture is light and delicate while staying relatively moist. Not overly sweet, it supports a variety of filling and frostings.

For these spooky Halloween cupcakes, I used Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting, drizzled it with Salted Caramel and topped them with Homemade Poppycock.


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Golden Cupcakes with Poppycock

  • Yield: makes 24 cupcakes 1x



For the Cupcakes

  • 360 g or 3 c unbleached cake flour
  • 400 g or 2 c granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 170 g or 5 oz unsalted butter, cut into ½” chunks and softened
  • 226 g or 1 c milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 20 g or 4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 15 g or 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice


Make the cupcakes

  1. Have all ingredients at room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 12 cavity cupcake pans with paper liners.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together on low speed until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the butter and mix at low speed until the mixture is evenly crumbly.
  5. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla.
  6. Add half the milk/egg mixture to the flour in the bowl. Beat until just combined, then add the remaining milk/egg mixture, beating until just combined.
  7. Stir in the lemon juice.
  8. Beat the batter at high speed for 15 seconds to ensure everything is totally combined.
  9. Using a #2 (3 tbsp) ice cream scoop, divide the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, and the centre of the top springs back when pressed lightly with a finger (15-20 minutes).
  10. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before transferring the cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.
  11. Frost with Swiss Meringue Buttercream, drizzle with warmed Salted Caramel and top with Homemade Poppycock.


Adapted from King Arthur Baking.

  • Author: Helen Kain