Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cake Series: Cupcakes

Last week Kimiko posted our favorite chocolate and vanilla cake recipes with tips for baking cakes.  Today I’d like to give my tips for making cupcakes using the same recipe.

Believe it or not, the cupcake wrappers you use can make a big difference in how they look when they are done.  In my experience, the more ridges around the side, the better.  Some that I’ve bought in the past that had fewer ridges folded in on themselves when I filled them.  The Reynolds wrappers that can be found in any major grocery store work well.  I buy boxes of 500 at a restaurant supply store because I make so many cupcakes.  I also buy big packs of mini cupcake wrappers there.

Michael’s has a huge selection of cupcake wrappers.  Most of them are very cute, but buyers beware!  Even though they are marketed to be baked in, they don’t look so cute once they’ve soaked up the grease from the cake.  My suggestion is to bake in white wrappers and then drop them into the cute decorative ones before serving or displaying.



Not cute!

Not cute!

Much better!

Cupcake sleeves are really popular now too.  You can find them at Michael’s and online, but they can be quite pricey.  I prefer to make them myself using the template you can find here.  I simply use scrapbooking paper, craft scissors, and double-sided tape.  When the paper is on sale, they only cost me about $0.20 each!

One of my customers bought these cupcake sleeves off
the internet for about $1.50 each.

I made these cupcake sleeves for about $0.20 each!

To bake the cupcakes, I make the batter as directed.  I usually include the chocolate chips, but sometimes I leave them out and fill the cupcakes instead (another post).  I just love the texture contrast of the chocolate chips!

I use a number 20 disher (about 3 Tbsp.) to scoop the batter.  This ensures that all the cupcakes are the same size so they all bake evenly.  Plus it is a lot faster and neater than using a spoon or other filling method.  For mini cupcakes, I use a number 60 disher (about 1 Tbsp.).

The size is usually marked on the sweeper.  This one is
made by Pampered Chef.

My #20 is made by OXO.

I bake the cupcakes at 350° for 16 minutes for regular size and 11 minutes for minis.  I make so many cupcakes that I know these times are perfect for my pans and ovens.  You would probably want to check the cupcakes a minute or two before to make sure they don’t get over done.  Keep in mind that if you test in a chocolate chip, the toothpick will come out with chocolate on it, but it shouldn’t have batter on it when done.

If you run out of batter without filling every hole, fill each empty one with a little water before baking.  This prevents the pan from getting too hot and causing the cupcakes to burn.

Cupcakes should be cooled completely on a wire rack before being frosted.  The fastest way to frost a lot of cupcakes is to pipe the frosting on.  You can use any frosting you desire, whether homemade or store-bought.  I use an 18” piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip for regular cupcakes.  For mini cupcakes, I use a Wilton 21 or 32 tip.  All these supplies are available at Michael’s.

To fill your piping bag, fold down the top to keep it from getting messy.  Place the bag in a pitcher or large glass.  Spoon the frosting in, leaving a few inches at the top.  Fold the top back up and twist.

The key to smooth piping, whether swirls on cupcakes or delicate lacework on a cake, is to squeeze the bag at the top with your dominant hand while using your weak hand as a guide at the bottom.  Kids especially always want to give the bag a big squeeze with both hands, particularly at the bottom.

With cupcakes, I always start in the middle.  This gives me something to build the swirl on.

Once the cupcakes are frosted, sprinkles or chocolate shavings are a great way to dress them up.


Beth said...

Thank you, Sumiko! This helps a lot.

StaceyN said...

What pretty cupcakes! Mine never come out looking so nice. When it comes to cupcakes (or any dessert), my family wants chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! Our favorite version of the cupcake is a plain chocolate cupcake that is injected with vanilla whipped cream with my Pampered Chef tool, then topped with a shiny chocolaty frosting made of dark chocolate melted with heavy cream and butter. The topping firms up in the fridge so it cannot smear like regular frosting but is still soft and melty, and it is SOOOO yummy, though not especially pretty. Did I mention we are all about the chocolate?

I like to add an extra 2 eggs to the batter to make the cupcakes moister. I'm really excited about making sleeves to dress up my unattractive cupcakes next time I have to take them anywhere. Thanks for the tip!

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