Every sweet treat-fanatic and their gran might have been bitten by cupcake fever, but not everyone has the art of creating the perfect cupcake down to a tee. Since it’s National Cupcake Week, however, we thought we’d let you in on a few handy tips for perfecting your cupcake baking talents.
Use quality ingredients
You’d be surprised by what a difference great quality ingredients can make to your cupcakes – they taste better, and are actually easier to work with during the baking process. One of the most important ingredients to invest in is vanilla. Use a pod rather than essence and not only do you get exquisite taste in return, but you eliminate the risk of overuse. It’s very easy to pour too much vanilla essence into your cupcake mix after a slip of a heavy hand, resulting in an unpleasant chemical tang.
Ensure ingredients are at room temperature
This is especially true for things that have come out of the fridge. If your ingredients are too cold they simply won’t combine as smoothly, leaving your cupcakes tasting more rough and ready than light as a feather. We’d recommend leaving everything out on your countertop for 10 – 15 minutes before you starting creating your cupcakes.
While many people see it as the staple of saccharine housewives, baking is something of a science. Now, we aren’t saying that home economics should replace chemistry, but successful bakes do depend on a set of chemical reactions induced by specific timings and measurements. So be careful; even the slightest miscalculation can make a difference when it comes to baking!
Don’t over mix
Save the beating for the eggs – when it comes to your cupcake mix, a gentle hand is essential. Lightly fold your ingredients together or you risk thrashing the air bubbles out of them, air bubbles essential to making your cupcakes light and fluffy rather than dense and claggy. Yuck.
Invest in an ice cream scoop
Sick of opening the oven to find lumpy, misshapen cupcakes hulking out over the cupcake pan? The solution comes in the form of the humble ice cream scoop. Rather than judging how much cupcake mix to put into each pocket by eye, use a scoop to achieve a consistent size. This means that, not only will your cupcakes bake evenly, but they will rise into a uniform shape.
Resist the urge to peek
It’s tempting to open the oven and check how your cupcakes are doing, but doing so could spell disaster! Once you open the oven door it releases a whole lot of the heat your cupcakes need to bake to their full potential, so instead, let them bake for the recommended time before sticking a fork into the middle of one. If it comes out clean, your cupcakes are ready to come out of the oven.
Cool sans pan
Leave your freshly baked cupcakes in their pan for no longer than a few minutes, as the heat from the pan will continue to bake them. Instead, carefully remove them and cool them on a wire rack, or improvise with the (clean!) tray from your grill if you don’t have one.
Ice, ice when cool, baby
Whether you are topping them with chocolate, inking them with icing or swathing them in fondant, decorating your cupcakes when they are still warm will be a disheartening waste of time. The remaining heat means that everything will just melt or slide back off again, so patience pays.
Don’t get carried away
With television programmes like The Great British Bake Off spawning all kinds of weird and wonderful cupcake creations, it can be tempting to get a bit carried away with your own bakes, especially decoration-wise. However, less is often more, and you can always pack a punch with your flavours instead. Experiment with different combinations, exploring the worlds of both sweet and savoury fillings. Remember, decoration is nothing if your cupcake tastes terrible!
If these tips have inspired you to create the perfect cupcake, why not embark on your masterpiece during National Cupcake Week, which is running from 15th – 21st September? There’s no Betta time to start!
Main Photo by DixieBelleCupcakeCafe - Copyright