Cookies, pies and cakes are delicious, but everyone knows that cupcakes are the perfect party treat. Not too big and not too small, cupcakes are a delightfully versatile dessert that can be served on paper plates at a picnic or presented in an elegant tower at any celebration. No matter what size, taste or toppings you favor, there's a cupcake recipe (or 20) for every taste bud. Before tying on the apron, however, take note of the some tips to help you to bake perfect cupcakes.
- Bring all ingredients to room temperature before mixing anything. Room-temperature ingredients combine more easily than those of varying temperatures, minimizing lumps and graininess.
- Take the extra minute or two to measure your ingredients exactly. Wet ingredients, such as water and oil, are best measured in glass cups placed on a level surface. Dry ingredients, like flour and sugar, are measured most accurately in nesting cups that are flat on top, which allows you to level the dry ingredients with a spatula or baking spoon before adding them to the mixing bowl [source: Wilton]. Experts also recommend that flour and sugar be sifted when you're making cupcakes from scratch. Sifting helps prevent unfortunate lumps from ruining an otherwise perfect treat.
- Don't overmix your batter. This will cause your cupcakes to be rather chewy instead of perfectly moist. Follow the directions in your cupcake recipe. If your recipe calls for a hand mixer and you are using a stand mixer, you will need to reduce you mixing time. Stand mixers mix batters faster than regular hand mixers. Consult your owners manual for mixing time adjustments.
- use an Ice cream scoop to fill each cup to the same level. Most bakers recommend filling them between 1/2 and 1/3 full, depending on the particular recipe.
- Baking times and temperatures vary based on the recipe and type of pan you're using. For most recipes, the standard 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 degrees Celsius) . Miniature cupcakes need only eight to 10 minutes in the oven, compared with 18 to 20 minutes for standard size cupcakes. Experts recommend that cupcakes be checked at the minimum suggested baking time to avoid unintentional overcooking. The old-fashioned toothpick test is a great way to gauge doneness. Insert the toothpick into the center of the cupcake top. If it comes out clean, the cupcakes are finished. Another age-old test is a little more hands-on: When you touch a cupcake with your fingertip, finished ones will spring back to form.
- When your cupcakes have cooled, use a decorating bag and tip to inject the filling of your choice into the top of the cupcake. To cram in even more of the good stuff, you can hollow out a small portion of the cupcake, fill it and plug the hole with a piece of cake or with a generous dose of frosting.
- Cupcakes can be ruined if you apply frosting too soon after removing the batch from the oven. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a minute or longer before removing them from the pan. Then, place them on the counter or a wire baking rack. For best results, when the cupcakes have finished cooling, cover them or seal them in a container to prevent them from drying out. It's important that you allow cupcakes to cool before putting them in an airtight container, otherwise, they'll sweat. Once you've got all your items assembled for frosting and decorating, pull them out and get to work.
- Be sure to cover the entire top of the cupcake with frosting to prevent cupcakes from losing their moistness.
- Although cupcakes are at their best when eaten fresh, there are several ways to store them that will keep their flavor and fluffiness factors in check. First, avoid food poisoning by storing all cupcakes with creamy fillings or whipped cream toppings in the refrigerator or freezer. Cupcakes freeze very well for up to three months, except for those with hard candy toppings or decorating gel -- these don't defrost very easily. To thaw frozen cupcakes, simply place them on a countertop or in the refrigerator.
Don't be too hasty about frosting your cupcakes if you plan on storing them for a few days before anyone consumes them. For instance, if the cupcakes will be consumed in a day or two for a class party that's around the corner, just store them in an airtight container at room temperature. Plan on frosting them the day of the event. If you know that you'll be freezing part of your batch because you have a celebration a few weeks from now or simply because you don't want to have too many cupcakes on hand, experts recommend freezing plain cupcakes and frosting them after they've thawed out.
- And remember...Good ingredients truly equal good taste. Always use the best ingredients.I use REAL butter, REAL vanilla, and the best Swiss or Belgian chocolate I can find.