Oh hi guys, welcome back to another blog post. This weeks post isn’t a recipe but instead is this jam-packed guide to making the ultimate perfect cupcakes. I often get asked questions about cupcakes and why they may not turn out exactly like the recipe. So I thought I would create this guide where I can cover everything.
Whether you are making your first ever batch of cupcakes or you are just looking to try some new recipes or techniques then the answer to making the perfect cupcakes should be here.
What are Cupcakes?
A cupcake is essentially just a mini cake made to serve just one person. They are normally baked in thin paper liners and can come in many different flavours. Cupcakes may also be known as fairy cakes in other parts of the English-speaking world.
Cupcakes were first described in American cookery books at the start of the 19th century and got there name because they were baked in a teacup. Nowadays cupcakes are normally made in muffin tins, not teacups, and baked into corrugated paper liners.
The reason that cupcake cases are corrugated is because the corrugated paper is far stronger than plain paper and so can support the cupcake much better than plain paper cases.
Another reason why cupcakes are so popular is that they can be made into any flavour or design you want, and the decoration will stay intact until the cupcake is eaten. Whereas a normal cake would need to be cut into slices and the design may then be ruined.
Scales – These are so so important. Baking is a science and it is important to ensure that you have the right amount of each ingredient.
Spatula – I always recommend a spatula it is so much easier for getting any mixture left around the sides of the bowl.
Mixing Bowl – I have so many mixing bowls, but again it is important for mixing your batter.
Baking Cups – I use these cupcake cases but you can use any cupcake case there is only one rule…they need to be pretty.
Ice Cream Scoop – I find this so easy for dividing the batter into my cupcake cases. It means that all my cupcakes are the same and bake at the same time. None are bigger than the other.
Cake Tester – I would recommend getting a cake tester if you aren’t confident at telling whether your cupcakes are baked or not. If you insert it into the thickest part of the cupcake and it comes out clean then they are baked. If it comes out with batter on it then they need longer in the oven.
Cooling Rack – Cooling racks are the perfect place to put your cupcakes while you are waiting on them too cool.
Piping Bags – I use these large piping bags as I can fit all the buttercream in but any piping bag will be great.
Piping tips – It is completely up to you which piping tips you use to decorate your cupcakes. For a swirl like the cupcakes below I use a Wilton 1M Piping Tip if you are new to baking and decorating cupcakes you might prefer a set like this which has a lot of piping tips in it and gives you a chance to try them all out.
Cupcake Corer – This is only essential if you are making cupcakes with a hidden centre. These cupcake corers are relatively inexpensive and means that you when you cut out the centre of your cupcake the holes are all the same size and will hold the same amount of filling.
Storage and Transportation
Store Undecorated Cupcakes
To store your cupcakes if you have not decorated them yet make sure they are completely cool before storing. Pop them into an airtight container with a tightfitting lid, and DO NOT put them into the fridge. Cupcakes are much more suited to being at room temperature. Once in an airtight container, they will last for around 3-4 days. If you are making the cupcakes a few days in advance then you can freeze them.
Freeze Decorated Cupcakes
Ensure your cupcakes are completely cool. Wrap them individually in cling film or in individual food bags. If you can double wrap them as it helps to ensure there is no freezer burn. Just ensure you put them in the freezer within 2 days of baking them. When you need your cupcakes just take them out the freezer, unwrap them and allow to thaw out.
Store Decorated Cupcakes
If you have decorated your cupcakes then be sure to store them in an airtight container tall enough for your cupcakes and decoration you don’t want to smoosh and ruin your buttercream. Again do not put these in the fridge you can store them in the airtight container for 3-4 days at room temperature.
Freeze Decorated Cupcakes
To freeze your cupcakes once you have decorated them wrap them individually in cling film or a food bag ensuring not to smoosh your decoration and store them in an airtight container.
When you need your cupcakes unwrap them and thaw them out.
My cupcakes are sinking in the middle
This could be caused by several things. If you have not accurately measured your ingredients and have too much of one ingredient it will cause your cupcakes to sink.
It could also be caused by the cupcakes being underbaked. The best thing to do to avoid this is to invest in a cake tester. If you put it into the middle of the cupcake and it comes out clean the cupcakes are ready, if it comes out and has cake batter on it then you need to pop them back into the oven.
You could also listen to the cupcakes when you bring them out of the oven. If you can hear them crackling and popping then they are not completely cooked. If you bring them out of the oven and they are silent when they are ready.
Another reason your cupcakes could be sinking is that you have opened the oven door while baking. It is so tempting to open the oven door to see how your cupcakes are doing but by doing so you are allowing the heat to escape the oven and the oven temperature to change.
My cupcakes are falling apart
This could happen if you have under mixed your batter. When mixing your batter you want to ensure that all the ingredients are incorporated.
Your cupcakes could also be falling apart because you have added too much of an ingredient for example too much sugar or baking powder.
It could also be caused by not enough eggs. I tend to use 1 egg for every 50g of batter I am using. So for example, if I am using 150g of caster sugar, butter and self-rasing flour then I would use 3 eggs.
My cupcakes are overflowing
Normally the main reason for this is because you have overfilled your cupcake cases. Your cupcakes will rise in the oven so they need to be about ¾ full of cake batter to allow some room for them to rise.
It could also be because your oven temperature it too low. You should always preheat your oven to the correct temperature before you bake your cupcakes. If the oven temperature is too low, the outer batter will take longer to cook making the cupcakes rise more than normal.
Cupcakes peel away from the liner
This could be caused by under baking your cupcakes. When cupcakes cool they are shrinking inwards and leaving the wrapper behind. Always cook your cupcakes until they are golden brown and springy to touch.
If you aren’t sure when your cupcakes are ready you could also use a cake tester to insert into the middle of your cupcakes. If it comes out clean they are cooked and if there is batter on the tester then you need to bake them for longer.
My cupcakes bake with weird overflowing limbs
This could be because your oven is too hot. The outer edges of the cupcake will bake quicker and harden and the centre of the cupcake will still be liquid that needs to expand and go somewhere.
It could also be caused by you unevenly mixing the batter. If you are using a stand mixer go around the outside of the bowl with a spatula to loosen any ingredients that may be stuck to the sides. Do this to the bottom of the bowl as well just to ensure there is no batter than your paddle attachment hasn’t reached.
My cupcakes bake with a pointy middle
This will be because your oven is too hot. The outer edges of your cupcakes bake too fast and stop rising quickly while the centre keeps rising, meaning you have pointy tops. It is always best to bake your cupcakes for a longer time at a lower temperature.
I think I will do a similar post to this dedicated to buttercream as I have had so many questions about this going wrong too, but for now, I will give a quick run-through.
I always make my buttercream using the 2:1 ratio. So 500g Icing Sugar to 250g Unsalted butter. I then add my flavouring and if the buttercream is too thick I then add a teaspoon of milk one at a time until it is the consistency I need.
You could also use a teaspoon of boiling water until it is the consistency you need. The boiling water will help melt the butter slightly and make the buttercream softer.
Some of the problems with your buttercream is that
You have air bubbles
This could be a result of you overmixing your buttercream. I mix it until the ingredients have come together. I will then go around the side of my bowl with the spatula to ensure I have gotten all the ingredients from the side of the bowl and then mix again. If it needs some water and milk I will add it and then mix again for a minute or so.
Another problem could be that you need to soften the butter first. I usually leave mines out for a few hours before I need it or overnight if I am baking early in the morning. If I forget to take the butter out I pop it in the microwave but only for a few seconds until it is soft as you don’t want to completely melt it.
Your buttercream is too stiff
This could be because you have added too much sugar. As I said above I would recommend using double the amount of icing sugar to butter.
Your buttercream is too soft
If you decorate your cupcakes and the buttercream flops over to the side of becomes really running there could be a few problems. You may need to add more icing sugar to stiffen the mixture up. If you have more butter than icing sugar in your buttercream then the butter will make it softer.
The problem could also be that your buttercream is melting because cupcakes haven’t cooled down. Your cupcakes should be completely cool before you start to decorate them.
Your buttercream is lumpy
If your buttercream is lumpy it could be because you have not sieved your icing sugar. The lumps could be your icing sugar clumping up.
Vanilla Cupcake Recipes
Velvety Vanilla Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes
- 145 g Caster Sugar
- 145 g Unsalted Butter
- 145 g Self-Raising Flour
- 3 Large Eggs
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
For the Buttercream
- 300 g Unsalted Butter
- 600 g Icing Sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
To Make the Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160 Fan. Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners and leave to one side.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
- Add in the flour, eggs, baking powder and vanilla and whisk until all combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the cupcake liners. I use a small ice cream scoop to do this so I know that they are all even.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. You will know the cupcakes are ready when they are golden brown and springy to touch.
To Make the Buttercream
- While the cupcakes are cooling make thebuttercream.
- In a large bowl add the butter, icing sugar and vanilla and mix until it is all combined.
- Spoon the mixture into your piping bag and pipe swirls on top. Finish with a spoonful of sprinkles on top.