Making cupcakes at home is no small feat. You have go through the trouble of baking many miniature-sized cakes, and then there's the work of frosting them too. We're not saying that cupcakes are the hardest dessert to bake. If you know your way around the kitchen, you can probably whip up a batch in just a couple of hours. But, are the cupcakes you're baking as good as they can be?
There are common baking mistakes that many of us make, taking the quality of our cupcakes down a notch or two. This just isn't right -- especially considering the work you're putting in. But worry not, these mistakes are easy to fix. Read on and see which errors you're committing, and then bake up a batch of perfectly crafted cupcakes.
Just like with any other recipe, the taste of your ingredients count. This means that, yes, you should spend the extra couple of dollars on real vanilla (please, no imitation anything in your cupcakes). And always opt for high-quality chocolate.
Don't Over Mix The Batter
Mixing cupcake batter is not a will of strength or speed. You should mix your batter on low speed until the ingredients are just incorporated. Seriously. An over-mixed batter will crush the air bubbles that help make cakes light and fluffy.
Don't Eyeball The Batter
Flickr: Elin B
None of us want to deal with a mountain of dishes once we've made cupcakes. But don't let that inspire you to use an already dirty spoon to divvy up the batter. Use a cookie scoop -- even though it's one more thing to clean -- to equally measure the batter into your cupcake liners. This will ensure evenly cooked cupcakes.
Don't Overfill The Cupcake Liners
If you overfill the cupcake liners, the batter will spill out onto the muffin pan as it bakes making a mess. Be mindful of the fact that your cupcakes will rise. Check out the Wilton site for appropriate cupcake batter amounts for your specific muffin pan.
Don't Forget To Preheat The Oven
Flickr: My sweet family of five!
If you're baking and not yet on board with preheating, we're not sure there's any hope for you. But we'll try anyway. You should ALWAYS preheat your oven when baking. If you put cupcakes into a cold oven and expect them to come out fine, you probably still believe in the Easter Bunny too.
Don't Underestimate Oven Thermometers
Ovens are finicky. And sometimes they say they're one temperature when they aren't at all. You don't need to buy a new oven if this is the case, just get an oven thermometer so you can be sure of its internal temperature.
Flickr: Matthew Simantov
Once you've put the cupcakes in the oven, do not peek. Leave them to bake for roughly 12 minutes before opening the oven door and checking on them. Of course, if you have an oven with a window, stare at them all you want -- just don't open that door. Opening the oven door releases heat which messes with the baking time of the cupcakes.
Don't Deal With Burnt Cupcakes
Just because you can scrape off the part of the cupcake that looks burnt, that does not mean your cupcake has been salvaged. A burnt cupcake has been cooked too long, meaning the cake is not only charred, but dry too.
Know this rule: A cupcake is done baking when you can gently press the top with your finger and it springs back.
Don't Leave The Cupcakes In The Pan
Flickr: Sailor Coruscant
When you remove the cupcakes from the oven, gently remove them from the muffin pan and place on a cooling rack (after a couple of minutes). If you leave the cupcakes in the hot pan, they will continue to cook and can dry out.
Don't Skimp On Frosting
Flickr: Nicole Cregg
The frosting acts as a sealer for cupcakes, keeping them from drying out (as do the cupcake liners). Frost the entire exposed top of the cupcake, and your cupcakes will stay fresh longer.
Don't Frost Too Soon
It's hard to resist the urge to eat baked goods straight from the oven (they smell so good!!), but if you try to frost cupcakes before they've been given the time to cool you'll end up with a lot of melted frosting and a real cupcake disaster.
Don't Leave Them Out
If you leave baked goods out, they'll inevitably go stale. Store them properly to prolong their freshness. Frosted and unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of days without going stale. If you'd like to store them longer, unfrosted cupcakes can be wrapped in plastic and frozen.
Don't Forget To Read The Recipe
The biggest mistake bakers make in the kitchen is not reading the recipe all the way through before getting started. Take the time to read -- it will certainly avoid simple oversights during the baking process.