Baking cupcakes – and getting it right

Some of you may know I bake cupcakes.  What started off as fun has led me to strive for perfection.  I’ve been baking cupcakes solidly for two and half years and it’s a pleasure to make them for occasions like birthdays. In fact it’s flattering.  But you know what?  After having baked hundreds of cupcakes, I still make mistakes.  It is intricate process and if one small thing is altered, the whole thing crashes and burns.

I have been asked for tips on how to make cupcakes.  Well I can share my advice.  Some may sound obvious and some may be enlightening.  I’m just going with my own tried and tested methods but it’s worth remembering what suits one person, may not work with another.  However, if you pay attention to some basic rules, hopefully you won’t have any problems.

  1. Check expiry dates of ingredients – don’t be inclined to anything that’s past its sell-by date including flour.
  2. Also check how long something will last once opened. You should be fine with sugars and flour as long as they are sealed or kept in an air-tight container.
  3. Don’t cut corners by substituting with alternative ingredients.  For example if a recipe specifies full-fat milk, don’t use semi-skimmed or salted butter when unsalted butter is required.  Ingredients contain agents which help to create your cupcakes.
  4. If a recipe does not state sifting flour, don’t be tempted to do it. I’ve done this in the past and the extra air from sifting affected the rising of the cupcake sponges.
  5. Do not open the oven door while the cakes are baking.  Letting in cold air will affect your sponge rising and probably lead to them sinking.
  6. Watch the clock.  You don’t want to undercook your cupcakes but also an extra few minutes could shrink them and cause them to peel off the cases.
  7. Invest in digital scales for accurate measurements. A few extra grams can make all the difference to the consistency of the mixture and baking.  Just ensure you have a couple of batteries spare – you don’t want to be half way through making a batch and the scales die on you.
  8. With red velvet cakes, use Dr Oetker’s red food colouring. It can be somewhat difficult to track down (Tesco stock them and you can buy them online). Any other food colouring will not give you the rich, red coloured sponge.
  9. For cream cheese frosting, always use full fat Philadelphia.  Combined with the icing sugar, it will give you the right consistency and taste.
  10. Unless you have a splash-guard fitted with your mixer, the best way to prevent icing sugar splattering all over the kitchen cupboards and worktop (and on yourself) is to mix your icing sugar and butter by hand and then switch to an electric hand mixer to blend together.  Don’t pay attention to the recipe instructions, it won’t affect the outcome of the frosting so long as you don’t over-mix it.
  11. For coloured frosting, use sugar paste like Sugarflair. It’s very potent in colour but won’t affect the frosting by making it runny which the cheaper, supermarket version do. Also Sugarflair produce every colour you can think of which can be mixed too.
  12. Do use a muffin tray to hold your cupcakes in shape.  I picked up some amazing high quality ones in Lidl for a fraction of the price that most kitchenware departments sell them for.

That’s all I can think of for now.  If you have any questions, do leave a comment and I will respond.

About these ads