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Cupcakes are irresistible! There's something about a cake in miniature that everyone loves. Learn how to make cupcakes with ease with this how-to guide.
Any cake is a cupcake
You can use any cake recipe you like to make cupcakes. The only thing that changes is the baking time. Follow these easy steps for fail-safe cupcakes:
As with any cake, ensure the butter and eggs are at room temperature before you begin. Weigh your ingredients, preheat the oven and prepare your tins while you wait.
Before lining your muffin tin with paper cases (or silicone moulds), use a piece of kitchen paper to wipe a thin film of vegetable oil over the top of the tin. This will help keep the tops of your cupcakes from sticking to the tin if they rise above their cases.
Why paper cases?
They make the cupcakes easier to transport and handle, and can also add a festive touch to an already fun cake. Plus any cupcakes with fruit or chocolate chips in them can stick to the tin no matter how well you grease it, so cases are recommended.
Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.
A note on creaming
This mixing method involves beating together butter and sugar. Unlike biscuit mixtures, for which you just want the sugars and butter to be well combined, cake mixtures require a little more work. The butter should be noticeably lighter in colour as air is beaten into it; the mixture will look very fluffy.
Scrape down the beaters and the sides of the bowl. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. If you use refrigerator-cold eggs, they won't incorporate into the mixture as well and will make it look ‘curdled’. You want your cake mixture to be smooth and homogenous.
After the last egg is fully incorporated, add any flavourings called for in your recipe, like vanilla extract or lemon zest.
Ingredients such as cake flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder should be sieved before adding them to the mixing bowl to prevent dry lumps in your baked cake. These lumps won't be broken up by gentle mixing – and the last thing a cake mixture needs is vigourous beating.
Once you add the dry ingredients to your cake mixture, you just want to stir until it's smooth, taking care to scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula.
Our favourite tool for scooping cupcake and muffin mixtures is a spring-loaded ice cream scoop. It's fast, it divides the mixture equally between the cases and it keeps your hands clean. You can also use a spoon or spatula to scoop the mixture; the main goal is to try to distribute it evenly among the cases.
Once the tins are full, they should go into the hot oven immediately. The longer the cake mixture sits out, the more leavening power you lose, so you should bake all of your trays of cupcakes at the same time.
Cakes and cupcakes bake in relatively hot ovens so that their structure is set quickly and the cake doesn't dry out during baking. The cake recipe that we started with called for an oven temperature of 180 C / Gas 4. Because of their small size, of course, cupcakes bake more quickly than cakes. Start checking for doneness at 20 minutes: the cupcakes should spring back when you lightly touch the centres with the tip of your finger.
If the surface springs back, test with a wooden skewer to be sure the cupcakes are done:
Cool the tin on a rack until the cupcakes are cool enough to handle, and then gently remove the cupcakes from the tin to cool completely before icing and decorating.
While a cupcake is gorgeous on its own, the crowning glory is more often than not a decadent icing. Wait for your cupcakes to cool entirely, then ice with your favourite icing for an extra-special touch!
Check out our collection of icing recipes
And don't forget our collection of cupcake recipes
These cupcakes are well decorated and look very attractive