Baking perfect cupcakes
Tips for baking perfect cupcakes will make you the envy of everyone
Cupcakes can turn out to be a huge disappointment -- think dry, sunken, unattractive, tasteless, or all of the above -- if you don't keep a few key things in mind. Before you throw in the towel and quit baking forever, stop. Baking perfect cupcakes isn't rocket science.
From the baking equipment you use to the recipe you follow, there are tips that will help ensure cupcake perfection every single time.
Here are some crucial things they don't tell you in the cookbooks:
Follow the Recipe
Have you ever heard of the saying, "You must follow the rules before you break them?" This saying especially applies to following cupcake recipes. Oftentimes, cupcakes turn out terrible simply because the baker doubts the recipe and makes his or her own rules.
Does your cupcake batter look like it can use a little bit more flour? Wait! Follow the recipe. If, after you've tried them they indeed need more flour, slowly add more flour to the next batch. Make sure you mark whatever you alter on the recipe so you know for next time.
This goes along with following a recipe exactly, but it's so important that it deserves its own category. Measuring cups and spoons are one of the best investments you can make for baking perfect cupcakes. Any inaccurate ingredient measurement can have a drastic effect on the way your cupcakes turn out. Therefore don't just "eyeball" what, say, a teaspoon of baking powder looks like. Actually measure it!
Dry vs. Wet Measuring
Many people don't know the difference between wet and dry measuring and end up using liquid measuring cups for dry ingredients. Do not make the mistake of using the wrong cup because the measurements are not the same. Obviously, ingredients like flour, sugar, and chocolate morsels go in dry measuring cups, but keep in mind that many things canned, such as pumpkin, go in dry measuring cups as well.
Although using vegetable oil is fine, butter (unsalted, of course) brings a certain richness to cupcakes that vegetable oil can't. If you don't want to stray away from vegetable oil altogether, try substituting half of it with butter.
As repulsive as it sounds, adding salt to cupcake batter will really bring out the sweet flavor. Just be sure to only add a pinch for every 24 cupcakes; you don't want salty ones!
Turn the Baking Tray
Do you ever notice that half of your cupcakes come out a little too well done, even if you follow the baking time exactly? This is because half of the oven, usually the back, tends to be a bit hotter than everywhere else. To fix this problem, simply rotate your baking tray halfway to three quarters through the baking time.
Just be sure not to turn the tray earlier than that -- you don't want your cupcakes to fall flat!
Use the Perfect Frosting
Not all frostings are perfect for all cupcakes, so choose wisely. Of course, what frosting goes with what cupcake is a matter of preference, but certain combinations are preferred by many and are known to just work. A light, whipped cream works wonderfully with fruit flavored cupcakes, such as strawberry or lime. Buttercream is very rich and works well with yellow cake. What better way to compliment a chocolate cupcake with more chocolate? Add a chocolate ganache.
Another key to excellent frosting is adding the right kind of sugar. Usually this sugar will be powdered sugar, as it will create a perfectly smooth frosting. Add a little bit, mix, and then add more to avoid clumps.
If you want to make your cupcakes look extremely decadent, use a piping bag with decorative frosting tubes. These tubes are perfect for everything from making the perfect frosting swirl to adding cute flowers.
Imagine baking a perfectly textured, beautifully frosted cupcake, only to have it surrounded by a dull, bland baking cup. Sure, white baking cups are great for formal occasions, but why not spruce your cupcake up for many other occasions? A great way to get creative with baking cups is to use ones that go along with the current season. Spring is right around the corner, so it would be the perfect idea to invest in some tulip baking cups! With the tremendous variety of baking cups out there, it is ridiculous not to add that special touch to your cupcakes.
There isn't just one secret to baking perfect cupcakes -- everything from baking cups to a pinch of salt goes into creating a cupcake masterpiece. If you incorporate all of these tips into cupcake baking, you'll get more enjoyment out of it because of the knowledge that you created the best cupcake possible!