Magnolia Bakery’s famous “Vanilla Vanilla” cupcake goes for $3.25 a pop, but with this DIY recipe we dug up in the Cooking Channel archives, you’ll spend only about 43 cents per cupcake. The low cost makes it perfect for a work party (or any party, for that matter), plus it’s simple, delicious and easy to tailor to your theme — should you choose to splurge on decorations. We tried this recipe for April’s Lab Week (Erika is a pathology resident at a nearby hospital), so we went with science-themed toppings (in case you were wondering about those strange-looking toppings above).

Below is a breakdown of the recipe steps, along with some tips we discovered through some admittedly rookie mistakes. We’re bakers in progress, so if you have any sage cupcake wisdom to share, please do so in the comments!

Step 1: Mix the batter.

Tip: Don’t have self-rising flour? Create your own by adding baking powder and salt to all-purpose flour.

Step 2: Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees F (our cupcakes took the entire 25 minutes) and cool on wire racks.

Tip: Allow cupcakes to cool completely, or risk melted frosting! (More on …read more

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