1½ sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (65° to 68°F)
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (7 ounces) sifted cake flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¹/³ cup (3 ounces) sour cream, at room temperature
Cupcake Pan(s), Parchment Paper or Cupcake Liners, Stand Mixer Fitted with a Paddle Attachment or a Hand Mixer and a Medium Bowl, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, Small Bowl, Fine-Mesh Strainer, Medium Bowl, Whisk, Cooling Rack
Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners or lightly coat the pan with melted butter, oil, or high-heat canola-oil spray and fit with rounds of parchment paper.
Cream the butter with the sugar: Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium until very light—almost white—in color, 4 to 5 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results. Scrape down the bowl with the spatula.
Add the eggs: Beat the eggs and vanilla in the small bowl to blend. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to completely blend in before adding the next. About halfway through, turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl, then resume adding the eggs. Scrape down the bowl again.
Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately: With the fine-mesh strainer, sift the cake flour, baking soda, and salt into the medium bowl and whisk together. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and the sour cream alternately, beginning with one-third of the flour mixture and half the sour cream; repeat, then finish with flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and finish blending the batter by hand, if necessary.
Divide batter evenly in cupcake pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes about 12 cupcakes.
Mini Yellow Cupcakes
Bake the batter in a mini-muffin tin lined with mini-cupcake liners, filling each cup with 1 tablespoon of batter to ¼ inch from the top of the liner. Bake for 11 to 14 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes about 50 mini cupcakes.