The thing with baking cupcakes is that people tend to rush the process. Baking is an art, and in order to perfect it, you need to have the time and patience to do every task slowly and efficiently. It’s all about paying attention to the details. So, if you’re looking to step up your baking game and whip up the best cupcakes in town, then follow these few tips to ensure the best possible results:
- Read the recipe properly
First things first, use a recipe. Baking is different to cooking in the sense that if you don’t add the correct amount of ingredients, your outcome is going to be a disaster. When you have found the recipe you want to use, read through everything to ensure you have all the right ingredients and you understand the method. Before you measure your ingredients, preheat the oven. Once you have done that, put the ingredients into their own separate bowls before sifting, folding and baking. Of course, this is going to create a heap of dishes, but rather that than a sad-looking cupcake batch.
- Make sure your oven is set to the right temperature
Bakers who feel their outcome is continuously different to what the recipe shows, should buy themselves a thermometer. It might not be your baking skills but it might just be your faulty oven, which definitely means that you should look into upgrading your oven. Some ovens have hotspots which generate more heat in certain areas, and some may just be set on a temperature but the oven doesn’t actually work properly. If you experience that some areas bake more than others, rotate your cupcakes. Another tip about temperature is to make sure your room temperature complements your recipe. For example, hot or cold weather can influence your ingredients: cream whips higher when the room temperature is cold.
- Check the expiry dates on your products
If it’s your first time baking in years, be sure to check your ingredients’ expiry dates before you get started. Remember that baking powder or soda that is old will affect the amount which your cupcakes lift. Anything that is older than six to eight months should be replaced. Do not leave your ingredients out to stand for a long while before you get started, as they will start to lose their consistency.
- Take time to sift, fold and mix like a professional
Sifting is the key to a really fluffy and fabulous cupcake. Many people don’t see the importance in this step, but old school or not, do not skip the part where the recipe calls for sifting. Heavier ingredients usually require you to fold them into a batter, before incorporating them into the rest of the recipe’s ingredients. Once you learn how to fold, you will never forget this very important technique.
How you do it is you take a spatula and slice it into the batter. Pull the spatula through the batter and lift each amount as much as possible, bringing the bottom batter to the top. Continue to do so for a while until each area of the batter has the same consistency. When it comes to mixing, scrape down the bowl as you go. This will ensure that you incorporate every little bit. As much as you want to mix everything in, do not to overmix your batter as this could affect the outcome.
- Monitor your cupcakes regularly to see when they are done
Depending on the effectiveness of your oven, try to set your recipe for the shortest suggested time. Why? Because you don’t know if your oven is the same as the oven used to cook that specific recipe. And, rather too short than overdone. If the cupcake is still slightly wet in the middle, shake or rotate the tray and leave it in for a little while longer. A cupcake that is done should not stick on a knife when you insert it, and it should jump back once you press it down. When testing, try to pick a muffin from the middle.
- Leave to cool and store before decorating
Much like doing each step correctly in the beginning phases, the finishing touch is what takes your cupcake to the next level. Remember that your cupcakes need to be completely cooled down before decorating, as a warm cupcake will cause the decor to melt right off which could ruin your result.
The cool-off time is usually noted in the recipe, as different cakes or cupcakes require different setting times. Put your muffins on a cooling tray to make the process go faster. These trays also prevent your cupcakes from going soggy at the bottom. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled down, keep them at room temperature until you’re ready to decorate them.