I'll admit it — when the cupcake trend was in full swing a few years ago, I was all in! I mean, who doesn't love an individual mini cake? I live close to some trendy bakeries and I remember almost every weekend being on the hunt for the perfect cupcake. I did end up finding a few cupcakes that I enjoyed, but there were some that just didn't taste great. And taste is just so important to me! Some store-bought cupcakes might look all pretty and decorated, but when you sink your teeth down, the cupcake itself is just unappetizing.
Well, if you're planning on making a set of perfect cupcakes from scratch for a special occasion or to give out as gifts, here are some baking tips to remember. We're here to give you the cupcake lowdown so you can make homemade cupcakes right at home and feel like a professional baker!
1. Use the best ingredients for your cupcake recipe.
One of my favorite celebrity chefs is Ina Garten. I have all of her cookbooks and I can't get enough of her amazing recipes, and her cooking and baking tips. One thing she always says is to use 'good' ingredients. And when you think about it, she's right. For great cupcakes, splurging a little on quality chocolate or cocoa powder, real deal vanilla extract or Kerrygold unsalted butter will result in a better taste to your cupcake recipe or any recipe for that matter.
You can always do a taste test to check it out. Take a little cupcake batter and bake a single cupcake with some cheaper ingredients and bake off the rest of the cupcake batter with high-quality ingredients. You'll definitely notice the difference!
2. Bring your ingredients to room temperature.
I confess that I don't always follow this rule. Sometimes I'm in a rush and I just don't have the time to leave my ingredients out to come to room temperature. Placing ingredients like unsalted butter, milk, and eggs or egg whites out on the counter for about an hour before baking will help all of the ingredients combine much better (your stand mixer will thank you!). If you forget to take out something like unsalted butter ahead of time, try out our list of other alternatives.
If your cupcake batter is poorly combined, you'll be left with dense cupcakes. Room temperature ingredients are easy to mix, giving a smooth batter that will result in fluffy, moist cupcakes. This is a helpful trick to use with all baking recipes.
3. Do not over-mix your batter.
The saying is, "Baking is a science", right? Well, that's definitely true and going overboard on mixing the cupcake batter, especially when it's time to add your dry ingredients like all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda, will give you a gummy, dense cupcake.
Following a great recipe is important and words like 'mix until combined' are commonly found in a recipe. I've always thought that some of these recipes should say, 'mix until just combined'. You really want to mix the dry ingredients until they're just combined, which might only take a few seconds. If you feel like the dry ingredients are not fully combined, finish mixing gently by hand with a rubber spatula.
4. Use an ice cream scoop for consistent cupcake sizes.
Some folks love their measuring cups or stand mixer, but one of my favorite tools in the kitchen is an ice cream scoop. It's not just for ice cream and can be used to evenly scoop cupcake batter into cupcake liners. By evenly distributing the cupcake batter, you'll have uniform cupcakes that will have the same baking time all in the same cupcake pan.
5. Pre-heat your oven.
It's obviously a good idea to pre-heat your oven for most baked goods, but especially when your baking. If you put your batch of homemade cupcakes in the oven too early, it will affect the baking process.
All ovens are different, so it's smart to purchase an oven thermometer so you can be sure of the internal temperature every time. Another tip of advice: I know it's hard but try to resist the urge to peek! It's exciting to see how the cupcakes are coming along, but a little cold air can drop the oven temperature and mess with the baking process.
6. Don't leave cupcakes in the pan.
This is one of my favorite baking tips for making the best cupcakes. Remove baked cupcakes after a minute or two from the cupcake pan and cool completely on a wire rack. If you keep them in the hot cupcake pan, the cupcakes will continue to bake and eventually dry out.
7. Properly store cupcakes in an airtight container.
Homemade cupcakes can sit out at room temperature for a day or two, but make sure to store them in an airtight container. Unfrosted cupcakes (and most cakes) freeze really well, too. You can always bake a big batch of homemade cupcakes ahead of time and store the unfrosted cupcakes in a Tupperware.
8. Frost the entire cupcake.
This is an easy tip to remember, right!? Well, believe it or not, the icing helps seal them to retain their moisture. Try your best to pipe or spread icing over the entire cupcake right to the very edge.
This tip is especially helpful if you're going to an event or party where the cupcakes will be sitting out for a long period of time. And don't forget to invest in the cupcake carrier by Wilton. It's so convenient and makes it easy to transport a batch of homemade cupcakes.
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