Recipe: Yellow Cupcakes with Homemade Frosting (better than the box!)

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CupcakesBoth of my daughters typically request yellow birthday cake over chocolate, which consistently leaves me wondering if there was a mix up at birth. Almost every year we have the same conversation where I ask, “What kind of cake do you want for your birthday…chocolate or yellow?” and the answer I get is “yellow.” Then I immediately follow up with, “Are you sure? You don’t want chocolate???” But no matter how hard I try I can’t win them over, although one year I did get my older daughter to agree to a yellow AND chocolate marbled cake, which turned out to be a win-win for everyone. :)

So as promised (on Facebook a couple weeks ago), below is the yellow cake/cupcake recipe we’ve been using. And while this recipe below (originally from Joy of Cooking) contains sugar and some white flour – both against our real food rules – I recognize this is WAY better than the store bought boxed version that many have relied on for years and that unfortunately contains a lot of unwanted additives (like hydrogenated oils)! And for the homemade frosting I even used all natural beet juice for the pretty pink color you see in the photos. For a less girly look feel free to experiment with small amounts of other colored juices as well (I froze the leftover juice in an ice cube tray since it didn’t take much). So for those occasions which are truly special – like birthdays! – we hope you enjoy this homemade treat with your loved ones.

I am admittedly horrible at decorating cakes so here are some links to the supplies that helped me pull these together:

Icing Cupcakes


4.7 from 10 reviews
Yellow Cupcakes (better than the box!)
Serves: About 20 Cupcakes
Adapted from Joy of Cooking.
Two frosting recipes to choose from below...yes, just pick one!
  • 1⅔ cup white cake flour
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour (100% whole-grain flour)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter, at room temp
  • 1 ¼ cups + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  1. Line a cupcake pan with 20 paper liners and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl combine the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla.
  3. In a large mixing bowl use an electric whisk to beat the butter and 1¼ cups sugar together until creamy. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add both the flour mixture and milk mixture in small batches (and alternating) while the mixer is still going. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Set aside.
  4. Again using an electric mixer whip the egg whites along with 1 tablespoon sugar until they are light and fluffy and peaks begin to form. Do not overmix because the mixture will become dry. Using a rubber spatula carefully fold the egg whites into the cake batter until it is combined thoroughly (again be careful not to overmix).
  5. Equally divide the batter into the 20 cupcake liners and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean, about 22 to 24 minutes. Let cool completely before adding frosting.

4.7 from 10 reviews
Easy Homemade Pink Frosting #1
Serves: enough for 20 cupcakes
Similar to Traditional Icing - and directly from my friend Trang the master cupcake maker! This stuff is deeeelicious!
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons milk or heavy cream
  • 5 teaspoons beet juice (optional)
  • strawberries for top (optional)
  1. Using an electric mixer combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until the consistency is smooth. With the mixer still going slowly add in the milk and juice until you reach the desired consistency. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary. Frost the cooled cupcakes just before serving. FYI - if you refrigerate the frosting for later it will harden back to the consistency of cold butter. Top with strawberries (or other fruit) if desired.

4.7 from 10 reviews
Easy Homemade Pink Frosting #2
Serves: enough for 20 cupcakes
This version is basically just sweetened whipped cream, but an easy stand-by (and what is pictured above).
  • 2 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • 5 teaspoons beet juice (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons white or powdered sugar
  • strawberries for top (optional)
  1. Using an electric mixer whip the cream, juice and sugar together until stiff peaks form. Frost cooled cupcakes and top with strawberries (or other fruit) if desired.


Cupcakes Lit

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