Cupcake Tips

In her article, "Cupcake wisdom," Natalie Haughton of Los Angeles' Daily News offers some cupcake-baking tips:

• Bake cupcakes in paper or foil liners, unless a recipe specifies otherwise. Liners come in a regular 2 1/2-inch size, a 1 5/8-inch mini size and a 3 1/2-inch extra-large size.

• Don't ever butter a cupcake liner, but when making dense or very moist cupcakes, spray with no-stick canola oil cooking spray for easy removal, recommends Elinor Klivans. When baking extra-large or big-top cupcakes, spray the top of the pan so the batter doesn't stick.

• Use shiny rather than dark pans for baking. Some experts use nonstick pans to keep cleanup to a minimum. You can also bake cupcakes in specialty cupcake-style pans in flower, star and heart shapes.

• Fill standard-size cupcake liners 2/3 (1/4 cup batter) to 3/4 (1/3 cup batter) full, depending on recipe instructions. "To streamline the cupcake-making process, use an ice cream scoop (in different sizes) with a spring action lever to fill the cups," advises Anne Byrn, noting that the scoop has changed her cupcake baking forever.

• Recipes with 1 cup flour make about 12 to 18 cupcakes, notes Klivans. Figure that the batter from an 18.5-ounce box of cake mix will make 20 to 24 standard 2 1/2-inch cupcakes, 36 mini 2-inch cupcakes and 12 jumbo or extra-large 3- to 4-inch cupcakes, notes Byrn.

• Preheat the oven 10 to 15 minutes prior to baking.

• Watch cupcakes carefully to avoid overbaking. Invest in an oven thermometer and check to make sure your oven is baking at the correct temperature.

• If you're having a party, bake a bunch of different flavored mini cupcakes so people can have tastes of each. If recipes don't specify mini baking times, note that minis will take more than half of the baking time recommended for standard size cupcakes. Figure around 16 minutes for minis and 20 to 25 minutes for standard size cupcakes.

• Use the toothpick in the center test for doneness. In most cases, if the toothpick comes out clean, it's done and if cake sticks, bake a little longer.

• Cool cupcakes in pan 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out on rack to cool completely.

• Use a small offset spatula (it has a flat rounded blade designed for even spreading) for frosting cupcakes as the crooked handle gives you extra leverage.

• Decorate cupcakes with sprinkles, M&Ms, chopped nuts, toffee, peppermint candies, jelly beans, chopped or shaved (with a vegetable peeler) light, dark or white chocolate, cookie crumbs, gumdrops, sifted cocoa powder, fresh fruits, edible fresh flowers, candied flower petals, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Also pipe on frosting designs if desired or use a knife to create swirls in buttercream frostings. Plastic stencils with small designs can also be used (sift powdered sugar or cocoa powder over stencil openings and remove stencil carefully).

• If traveling with cupcakes (some travel better than others; i.e. frostings and glazes that harden) during the summer, be sure to chill them first and transport in individual cupcake containers or disposable pans with plastic lids (available in 9x13, single serving or other sizes).

• Cupcakes are best consumed the day they are baked.

• You may freeze most cupcakes, unfrosted, for up to three months.


Kathy said…
Thank you so much for posting this! Someone clipped it out of the Daily News at my job (before I had a chance ot check it out!).
Anonymous said…
Its my first child's 1st birthday. I'm under the pressure to make cupcakes for her entire daycare. Thank you so much.
Tina L Nelson said…
what if you do not own a spatula? I am new with cupcakes. I am not a baker, but I am a mom, and baking is a must for mommas. Please give any suggestions for easy frosting tips with common kitchen utensils. I really enjoy your blog. keep up the good work and ideas. GREAT IDEA FOR A BLOG! Thank you!
Anonymous said…
Does anyone have an idea how to make single serving cupcakes? I want to be able to measure out from a cake mix, so that each child in my preschool can stir up their own cupcake and then put it in a muffin cup to bake.
Julia said…
Thank you for the tips! I am a beginning baker (brownies and cookies are pretty much my comfort zone). I'm having my women's group over to the house and I want to bake some beautiful Fall cupcakes....I'd like to use a spice cake mix, and then cover the entire cupcake in a buttercream frosting, then top them with sugared cranberries. I thought it might look more elegant if I frosted the whole cupcake, but I don't know how that works you think that would look good? If I did that, would you recommend swirling the frosting with a knife only on the top of the cupcake, or would it work all over? THANK YOU cupcake queens!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the tips. I am going to my Varsity lacrosse party with my teamates and of course i was one of the few who got stuck bringing deserts. I have made regular cupcakes before, but this time I am making mini ones and now i know how long to cook them. Thanks again!
Anonymous said…
Please Help!!! I followed the directions on the Betty Crocker cupcake package but my cupcakes deflated after coming out the oven. What happened????
Anonymous said…
Hi.. Thanks for the lovely and informative tips... Made my life easier!!

Anonymous said…
thanks a bunch for posting this! I'm 15 and have to make cupcakes for a party on Halloween but I'm kind of unsure about my skills. I bake cakes a lot and I'm hoping this is much the same!
Smita said…
Thank you so much for your tips. I have had very bad experiences with cupcakes over the last year or so. And the fact that we don't consume eggs makes it even worse.
But I am now sure I will remember your fact I just baked my first batch of yumm cupcakes.

Thanks again!!!
I sure am making some for my son's 2nd birthday celebrations at school next week.
Jaynittza Nieves said…
My son's birthday is coming up and I want to bake cupcakes for his birthday party. I want my cakes to be extra moist. I've read that pudding makes them moist. But how much pudding should i add to the mix? I dont want them to be too moist. Doe anyone have any tips... Please help. Thank You!
Jonathan Pan said…
Christine, you have to add some milk to those cupcakes because your water junk just doesn't for me.. well i hope you see this!!

and one more thing.. for your b-day i'll make you a cupcake and you can tell me if its good or not haha.