The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake (the original Willie Vanillie)

by Karen on February 27, 2012

If you choose to bake this recipe it will be the best vanilla cupcake you’ll ever make, and I say that with full confidence.   When I started my shop in Mill Valley I opened with this recipe in my everyday line-up. 

Mom, Jewels, and Will

This cupcake was named after my son Will, “The Willie Vanillie”.  Yeah spoof on the Milli Vanilli lip syncing fiasco.  Of course my son was too young to appreciate their music.   Customers came from all over to get this heavenly cupcake, and I was told that it was addictive and I had to agree.  It is made by folding in egg whites to the batter and uses cake flour.   These two simple ingredients render this cake light and fluffy, chiffon-like.   With most things out of this world, there is a small catch…………………………it has a little Crisco.   Please oh please if you talk to Jamie Oliver (my idol) don’t mention that I use Crisco,  I realize this ingredient has fallen out of popularity.   Now with Paula Deen lighting up the airwaves I wasn’t ever going to share this recipe even though I still make them at home.   There are somethings however, I feel are just better with Crisco, so shoot me.  This recipe happens to be one of them, pie crust is another.  You could try to make it without and substitute butter but I never did.  Do I eat Crisco everyday?  Not even close. 

 I stopped making this recipe in the shop one day because of the Crisco. This recipe can also can be unpredictable, jumping all over the pan and sometimes it shrinks.  I had a hard time controlling it and making it consistent for everyday offerings.   It is easier to manage made into a cake.  Nevertheless this cupcake is brilliant.  When I took it off the menu customers could tell the difference with the new replacement and I had to put in back into rotation because I heard so much grumbling.

I dare you to make it one time.  Oh yeah, and you’re welcome.



5 extra-large eggs, separated, at room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 pound  (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening, room temperature (Crisco)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups sifted cake flour

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites just until they start to thicken.  Then gradually add 1/2 cup sugar until the mixture thickens to a meringue like consistency.  Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the remaining sugar, butter, vegetable shortening, and vanilla.  Add the egg yolks, one at a time,  until the batter is think and well blended.
  4. Stir the baking soda into the buttermilk and set aside.
  5. Sift the salt together with the cake flour, and add to the butter mixture alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour.
  6. Fold the egg whites into the batter.
  7. Spoon the batter into baking cups filling about 3/4 full. 
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Do not over bake.


1 lb. soft butter unsalted (4 sticks)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 lb powdered sugar sifted

Blend the butter and vanilla in a mixer at medium speed until soft and blended well, about 3 minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar a little at a time on low-speed. Once it is all in and mixed beat at high-speed until light and fluffy for about 4 minutes. You can store the unused frosting in an airtight container in the frig about a week.





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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Paula February 28, 2012 at 9:11 pm

I am saving this recipe and I am definitely going to try it…with Crisco for sure! Thanks so much for sharing it.


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