Thursday, 9 June 2011

5 tips to perfect cupcakes

Most people have made cupcakes or basic sponge cakes but I've had people ask why sometimes they work but other times they just don't.

Unlike most recipes that I really do encourage you do adapt to your tastes, baking is different. For things like cakes, biscuits, puddings etc. you need to follow the base ingredients each time to make sure that they turn out correctly. Here are 5 tips to make sure you always have perfect cupcakes.

TIP ONE: Measure your eggs

For a basic sponge or cupcake you are probably aware that the quantities of flour, butter and sugar should be the same and then you add 2-3 eggs depending on the amount of cakes you are making. What people don't seem to realise is the amount of eggs you are adding is supposed to be the same. The difference between a medium egg and a large egg can be 50-75g which can make a big difference to your cake batter.

So to begin if you are making 12 cupcakes then weigh out 3 medium or 2 large eggs. Today my three eggs weighed 175g. This is the number you remember and you use the same amounts of flour, butter and sugar. If you are making smaller fairy cakes then measure out two medium eggs and that will be your base number.

TIP TWO: your fat will change the taste of your cake

It is not just the additional flavourings (vanilla, lemon, chocolate) that changes the taste and texture of your cake- the type of fat you use will make a huge difference- butter, sunflower spread, stork, oil or liquid vegetable fat (such as the Flora in the above picture) will all give different flavours and textures. The one that you need to prepare in advance is butter- it must be brought to room temperature before you use it. Experiment with which one you prefer for taste and texture. Amounts and cooking times remain the same (other than for the liquid flora- follow the directions on the pack if you were using something like this).

TIP THREE: Don't overbeat your mixture

You can give your butter and sugar a good beat, and also a good mix when you add in your eggs (but even then not too much since you don't want too much air in your eggs). But the time to be careful is when you add the flour- the more you beat this the more you work the gluten and this affects your finished cake. Think making bread- it's the same idea. When you add the flour you want to make sure you incorporate it all into the liquid mix- AND THEN STOP! Don't keep beating at this point or when you cook them you will probably find that although your cakes initially cook well they will then sink. This isn't too much of a problem if you are completely covering them with icing but if you want a perfectly finished cake each time this is something to remember and a lot of people do overbeat their mix.

TIP FOUR: Don't over fill your cupcake cases

There is a temptation to fill your cases to get a nice big cake. But this can mean that your mixture can spill over the edge of the case and it also makes them harder to decorate if there is not a bit of space at the top of the case once cooked. The above cupcake cases were filled with the 175g base number mix. As you can see they are only about a half full.

TIP FIVE: Don't overcook your cake

People tend to leave their cakes to cook until they look golden brown but actually by this point they are slightly overcooked. They actually need to come out of the oven when they are still quite pale. In a 180 degrees oven for cupcakes they take about 12 minutes and fairy cakes would be about 10 minutes. This time will slightly vary depending on your oven. Make sure a squewer still comes out clean.

As you can see the above cakes cooked perfectly- all neatly still in the cases, they haven't deflated in the middle since I didn't overbeat and there is plently of room for icing.

Follow these tips and hopefully you will also produce perfect cupcakes everytime.

Til soon....

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