Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

It has been a while since I’ve made cupcakes! Two things motivated me to make this batch: Bonnie from Thirsty for Tea when she made some amazing homemade strawberry Pocky sticks, and an extremely disappointing experience with a local bakery. Yes, that’s a weird combo, I know, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

I stumbled upon this recipe from The Martha Stewart Show about eight years ago, during the height of our national cupcake craze. Martha sometimes intimidates me a bit, but I trust her when it comes to food and recipes. The guest was Billy from Billy’s Bakery in NYC and I was intrigued by his reverse-creaming method. This recipe has become one of my go-to vanilla cupcake recipes. They turn out well every time! The key is to make sure NOT to overmix or overbeat any of the ingredients.

As for the buttercream, I like to add freeze dried strawberries. I find that they are easier to incorporate into the frosting because they are dehydrated and don’t add any extra moisture. No need to worry about ruining the consistency. πŸ™‚

Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

  • Servings: 30 cupcakes
  • Print

Vanilla Cupcakes


  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I like to use vanilla bean paste)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat.

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Strawberry Buttercream


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 oz package freeze dried strawberries, finely ground in food processsor


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, strawberries, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add additional powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.

**Note: I would make the buttercream ahead of time since the flavors need at least a few hours to blend together. The buttercream tastes completely different right after you make it versus letting it sit for a while.

Eggs shall not be fried this time. What a shame. ;)
Eggs shall not be fried this time. What a shame. πŸ˜‰
Do not overmix!
Do not overmix!
I love these baking cups!
I love these baking cups.
Lots o' strawberries.
Lots o’ strawberries.
I was not happy with my frosting job. I hate it when that happens.
I was not happy with my frosting job. I hate it when that happens.
So I did this instead.
So I did this instead.
I am experimenting with a new light source here. More details to come later.
I am experimenting with a new light source here. More details to come later.
Last shot before the darn reflector fell over and smashed the cupcakes. I would have taken a picture but was too irritated. Also because I had a big welt on my leg from running into the open dishwasher door. I am so graceful. Not.
Last shot before the darn reflector fell over and smashed the cupcakes. I would have taken a picture but was too irritated. Also because I had a big welt on my leg from running into the open dishwasher door. I am so graceful. Not.
And here is the requisite Bailey picture!
And here is the requisite Bailey picture!


  1. Oh, I love both your frosting jobs! Your second one is such a cute idea though….never would have thought of that! You are so creative Patty! How did you do that one? And you want to hear something funny?! I made cupcakes with buttercream frosting for Fiesta Friday too! Now we are starting to think alike….hahaha! Those cupcake liners are awesome! Love them! Compliments the color of the frosting! And your pictures are as gorgeous as ever! I love photography and dabble in it….and only hope to be able to take pics like you someday! Just gorgeous! And “Hi” Bailey! Looks like he is guarding the cupcakes for you! πŸ˜‰ ❀ Good boy! πŸ™‚

  2. But your icing job looks flawless! I looove the combination of strawberries and buttercream. I was thinking of pulling out my old recipe to welcome spring, but now I’ve got to try yours!

  3. These look amazing Patty! I typically do not eat sweets, but put a cupcake in front of me and I will so eat it…LOL

  4. Yummy Patty! I love the combination of vanilla and strawberry. These cupcakes are not only beautiful [love those baking cups!] but delicious sounding too! Such enticing photos as usual…I fear one cupcake just wouldn’t be enough to satisfy me πŸ™‚

  5. As always, STUNNING. I agree that Martha can be a bit intimidating, but her recipes are tried and true! And the freeze dried strawberries? Genius!

  6. Yay! Another batch of cupcakes!!! I understand about the frosting frustration!

    The cupcakes are lovely and oh so yummy!! The baking cups are lovely, too!

    And hello, Bailey!! πŸ˜‰

  7. These look absolutely delicious, Patty! Love those cute baking cups — It would be so hard for me to use them because I’d hate to throw them away after ;). I don’t know how you have time for all of this beautiful baking and cooking and photography and teaching — I’m amazed!!

  8. Yummy recipe – I am into cupcakes, a big switch from the cakes I use to make. Did Bailey lick the icing off of the cupcakes – LOL! Once I left a birthday cake too close to the edge of a table and our lab/husky mix managed to lick part of the icing – did I “fix” it and not tell anyone πŸ™‚

  9. If you are swearing by the recipe, I am keeping it too. It’s so easy timberland cupcakes and dry them out. Still am on the look out for that perfect recipe. Will surely give it a try. Cake flour is different from refined? Will hunt for it next time.
    I loved your cute way to ice the cup cakes and the recipe for the same is simple and good too :).
    Gorgeous pictures Patty, well that’s natural for you :).

    • Thanks so much, Sonal! I love simple recipes! As long as you know all the baking basics (room temp ingredients, no over mixing, spoon and level when measuring flour) then you’ll be good to go! πŸ˜€

  10. Super pro! look at those beautiful cupckes! love the brioche mini molds hahah πŸ™‚ I too trust Martha when it comes to food… and always wonder how did she ever get to learn so much about french cooking… did she go there to study?

  11. Wow Patty!!! I’m in LOVE! Your photos are simply perfection!! So beautiful, and I am drooling over those gorgeous cupcakes here – your frosting looks totally perfect to me?? πŸ˜‰ I am curious about your new light source πŸ˜‰ Beautiful, beautiful – thanks so much for sharing!!

  12. Oh Patty, your cupcakes are soooo beautiful! And you are too kind to re-do your icing just for us! Heavens, we are not that picky, especially after a couple of the Latin Lovers and now the Bellinis that are circulating πŸ˜€ By the way I would love to hear about your new light source. I am still struggling with that. I have one Lowel Ego Pro, but it really isn’t enough! Anyway, happy Fiesta Friday!

    • Haha we sure are festive, aren’t we? The Lowel Ego is my new light source! I’ve only practiced with it a few times, and it’s either too bright or somewhat off. Isn’t that weird? I wonder if we need two? Steamy Kitchen swears by two, so I don’t know. Too many decisions!

      • Well, let me know what you think of it the more you use it. I am leaning towards two of them. One only lights a really small space. But I don’t have big reflectors – I only use smaller bounce cards.

      • I use foam white boards as my reflectors. I still prefer natural light, but I hate not being able to cook/shoot during the week! I will keep you updated as I practice with them!

      • What does the light source look like? Is it large and awkward? I am usually trying to snap my photos as I am making dinner and usually by then it is dark. I have a thing called “kick” which is a hand held portable device that you can set from your phone. I still haven’t figured out the settings so my colors are off. I need some serious help with my photography. Always good to know what you guys are doing because yours are amazing.

      • This is so funny because I just asked my husband for this light for my birthday. We have awful lighting in our old, old house and I do most of my cooking at night. Not being a photographer at all, I can use all the lighting help I can get!

      • It was two days ago… that’s why I was late to Fiesta Friday. Well, that and I had to work! Ick! I asked him if he would research lighting for me and either buy me a light or install better lighting in the house. Lol, I think he will just buy the light.

      • Happy Belated Birthday to you! I think the Lowel will be a lot cheaper! πŸ˜‰ I’m looking into getting a second one since it seems that is the preferred setup!

  13. Very nice photography and amazing recipe! I like the idea the fact that you added dried strawberries, fresh strawberries contain a lot water and often aren’t sweet enough. Your cupcakes are very cute! πŸ™‚

  14. You are such the perfectionist. Both frosting jobs were lovely. Sorry about the mishap with the reflector and the dishwasher, although I bet there was some humor in there somewhere after the irritation went away?

    Bailey is “the icing on the cake”. What a sweet, sweet, sweetie.

    • Oh yes, there must always be humor in the end. Otherwise you become a big ol’ crank and nobody wants that! And what what a perfect way to put it–Bailey truly is the icing on the cake!!

  15. I use same method for cupcake as well, I was shocked when I saw this way of making cake at first but it works well for cupcakes. ( I use recipe from ‘hummingbird bakery’ book.) Great idea of using freeze dried strawberry in the butter cream!
    Beautiful photo as usual, too!

  16. Wow, Patty, I love your photos, these ones are so full of light, just beautiful light on the cupcakes and pale pink icing. Pity they were squashed, yikes!? Oh, and I love using freeze dried fruit too, so much flavour and color without the sogginess – great minds think alike? πŸ˜€

  17. Both Bailey and those cupcakes look absolutely adorable. Your photos are always so delicious, and your experimenting with a new lighting source seems to be paying off! Those photos are lit so nicely! πŸ˜€

  18. I like your cupcake method, the dried fruit in the icing, the pictures. I have a lot to learn from you. Glad you brought Bailey along to the party – he is so entertaining.

  19. Patty, as always, you bring such beautiful treats for us party-goers. I’m way late to the party this weekend, but hope there’s just one cupcake left for me—dying to try that buttercream with freeze dried strawberries! I love both icing jobs you did, btw!

  20. The light is so good in the last shots. And I like the white board/table.
    Ah, Bailey looks like he’s wearing an eye mask. Was it Tonto that wore one? No, the Lone Ranger. I’ve just Googled.
    And is this a new theme? Must have a nosy at your home page.

    • Haha thanks, Johhny. Bailey gets tear stains and they’re impossible to get out. Let’s call him Bandit Bailey! And no, this is the same theme I’ve had since the beginning. Nothing new!

  21. I saw this same Martha episode and I have been using this cupcake recipe ever since; it’s so delicious and moist! I just love the addition of freeze dried strawberries. Your photos are so beautiful! Are you on Instagram?

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