Rainbow Cupcakes with Polka-Dot Sprinkles

There are a lot of things in my life that I am thankful for: My husband who loves me, even though I’m sometimes not entirely sure why. My son who amazes me each and every day with how much he’s learning, growing, and making me fall even more in love with him than I was yesterday. My family, immediate and extended, who are all supportive and loving both me and our little family. And my friends, whose numbers aren’t large, but who are all some of the greatest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for most of my life.

It’s in this last category that I place Jenna, someone I’ve known since I was two, and am lucky enough to receive a call from the past two years to make the cupcakes for her daughters’ birthday party. You may remember last year’s Butterfly Cupcakes for Ella. This year, the request was for rainbows and polka dots to celebrate, not only Ella’s 3rd birthday, but also her new sister Violet’s, recently brought home from China, 3rd birthday as well.

This was quite the celebration, so it needed an equally celebratory dessert for two adorable little girls. My own celebration comes from the fact that this is one of the only times of the year that my food is treated to a quality camera and photographer in Jenna. You’ll notice that the first two pictures aren’t anywhere near the caliber of the other 3 in this post, since she is much more talented behind the lens than I am. If you’re in the Milwaukee area and looking for a talented photog to take your family pictures, please hope over to SongBird Photography to check her out.

For these cupcakes, I decided to take a page from my new cookbook Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery that I actually won via a Bon Appétit online contest. To be honest with you, I think this is the first contest I’ve ever won, so I was more than a little bit excited about both the cookbook and simply getting something in the mail that I didn’t have to pay for. The only change I made to this recipe was the addition of a little salt. The result is a very dense vanilla cupcake that works well with a lot of frosting and a big glass of milk.

All of my colored batters waiting to go into the muffin tins.

The layered batter ready for the oven.


  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup + 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 cup Self-Rising Flour
  • ¾ cup + 1 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ cup 2% Milk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Gel Food Colors
  • Vanilla Buttercream
  • Confetti Sprinkles


  • Preheat oven to 350, and line a 12 cup muffin pan, or 3 12 cup mini muffin pans, with cupcake liners
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes, using an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition.
  • Sift the two flours and salt together into a separate bowl. Mix the milk and vanilla together.
  • Add 1/3 of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in 1/3 of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added.
  • For White Cupcakes:
    • Carefully spoon the mixture into the cups, filling about two-thirds full.
  • For Rainbow Cupcakes:
    • Divide batter equally into bowls for however many colors you want, i.e. 6 colors = 6 bowls.
    • Mix in gel coloring into each bowl until desired tone and vibrancy is achieved. Depending on what you’re making them for, a lighter tone could work, pastels for a baby shower, but I wanted vividly bright rainbows, so I erred on the side of too much.
    • Using a small spoon, I used a regular silverware spoon, drop a dollop of each color into each cupcake liner in the order you desire. For the cupcakes pictured above, I added in the following order: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, 15 minutes for minis, until slightly raised and golden brown, and a skewer in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and leave in pan about 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.
  • Frost as desired. I used a very large round tip to create spiraled mounds that were quickly topped with confetti sprinkles.

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