The Search for the Perfect Vanilla Cake: Back in the Day Bakery’s Old Fashioned Cupcakes


Today’s cake recipe is from the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook. I always take a cookbook or two out from the library when I go, and I loved this one as soon as I opened it. Long story short, I read it many times over in my three week loan period, and then renewed it. I wasn’t finished with it yet. I wanted to make literally everything in this book. Then my renewal period ran out and I renewed it. Again. When I was approaching my third and final renewal, I decided it was time to buy the book. I am still totally overwhelmed by all of the things I was to make from it. Their number one best seller is the Old-Fashioned Cupcake with vanilla buttercream and I knew I had to try these, especially once this series got underway.


Back in the Day Bakery is located in Georgia and is known for its old fashioned take on baking. I really identify with that aesthetic myself. I’m tired of seeing cakes covered in fake neon fondant and sculpted into weird shapes. A from-scratch classic round three tier on a vintage cake stand that is simply decorated and tastes amazing is still my favorite way to go. In my mind, if you have to peel a layer off of something to eat it, and it doesn’t taste amazing, what’s the point? Back in the Day Bakery makes things that look like your Grandma made them and I love that.

This recipe uses a mixture of all-purpose flour and cake flour and it also uses an unusual way of mixing. You chop your butter into pieces and add them in small batches to the mixture of all of the dry ingredients. The milk gets added last. This method is from the Cake Bible and is apparently a way to avoid over mixing. The batter smelled and tasted great and the texture of it was really perfect. I put them in the oven and they baked up perfectly too. Visually the nicest cupcakes I’ve made so far.

Token close-up shot:


I have a confession to make. I kinda sorta thought this recipe would be the winner before I even started this series. I had heard such good things about them, not only from reviews of the bakery itself, but I had seen the recipe posted on other blogs touting them as the “best” vanilla cupcake. I looked at the ingredient list, saw the method was from the prestigious Cake Bible, and I thought they couldn’t fail.


Sign. I was wrong. Now, these aren’t a “fail”. I’m being overdramatic. They tasted lovely, and the texture was pleasant. They were also quite easy, although chopping the butter and adding it in batches felt sort of fussy to me. These just aren’t what I’m looking for as my “perfect” cake and after really liking my first attempt and then loving my second, these just didn’t meet my criteria. They were too dense and not as moist as I’d hoped. Vanilla flavor was also lacking, as I’ve grown accustomed to by now in my testing. Back to the drawing board!

My scores out of 5:
Density – 3
Vanilla Flavor – 2
Sweetness – 4
Moistness – 3
Simplicity – 3

My MTT’s scores out of 5:
Density – 4
Vanilla Flavor – 3
Sweetness – 4.5
Moistness – 4


Back in the Day Bakery’s Old Fashioned Cupcakes

Makes 12


  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. cake flour (not self-rising)
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, rounded
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake tin with liners; set aside.

Combine in a bowl both flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix on low speed until combined for about 3 minutes. Add in cubed butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

Add eggs 1 at a time until combined. Slowly add milk and vanilla to batter until completely mixed. Scrape down bowl as needed.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool fully, then ice.



Recipe from the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Cookbook photo from:


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