Are you ready to learn how to make perfect cupcakes to impress your friends and family? In this baking tips post, I will teach you 10 Tips for Baking Perfect Cupcakes! With these tips and tricks, you will be able to take your cupcakes to the next level, making them look professional and taste amazing!
Cupcakes are my self-proclaimed specialty. I love baking and eating cupcakes. Cupcakes are perfectly portioned, portable, and super adorable. Flavor possibilities are endless as are ways to decorate cupcakes. I love creating new cupcake recipes with unique flavors.
Through my many years of baking cupcakes and developing recipes, I have learned and acquired different strategies to help me create the perfect cupcake. These tips are small and easy things you can do to help make your cupcakes look impressive and professional. Here are my top 10 Tips for Baking Perfect Cupcakes!
1. Ingredients should be at room temperature
When I first started baking, I used to ignore this tip. I could understand why it is important to have room temperature butter because if it wasn’t at room temperature, good luck creaming it. But I would always use milk and eggs straight out of the refrigerator. Big mistake!
The main reason you want your ingredients at room temperature is so that they combine and emulsify well. This could lead to poor texture in your cupcakes.
However, I don’t always remember to pull my ingredients out of the refrigerator before I am baking! So I have a couple quick tips to help!
- Butter – Place wrapped butter in the microwave and heat in 5 second intervals, turning the stick of butter 1/4 turn each time. Once you start to feel the butter slightly soften, remove the butter from the microwave.
- Eggs – Place cold eggs in a bowl and fill the bowl with hot water (not boiling). Allow eggs to sit in the water for 5 minutes.
- Milk – Pour milk into a glass measuring cup and microwave for 30 seconds. Test the temperature and continue to microwave in 10 second bursts until room temperature.
2. Do not overmix the batter
It is very important to not overmix the cupcake batter. When the batter is overmixed, it leads to the development of gluten, which will make the cupcakes have a tough and chewy texture.
When making bread, the dough is kneading for several minutes to build gluten, so that the bread has a chewy texture. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer not to have a chewy cupcake!
Most of my cupcake recipes are mixed by hand with a whisk. I do this for two reasons: (1) I don’t have to clean my stand mixer and (2) To prevent overmixing. When you are mixing by hand, I find it a little easier to stop mixing when appropriate.
You will want to stop mixing the cupcake batter immediately when the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, leavening agents) are fully combined into the wet ingredients (milk, oil). This will prevent the gluten from developing further and will lead to a soft, tender crumb to your cupcake.
To be sure that all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, I usually take a spatula and scrape the bowl one time. If some flour appears, mix the batter gently until it has incorporated.
3. Use a cupcake scoop for evenly baked cupcakes
One of my favorite and most used tools in my kitchen is a cookie scoop. I have several sizes that I use to make perfectly round cookies and to perfectly portion batter into cupcake liners!
The main reason I suggest using a cookie scoop for your cupcake batter is so you bake even, uniform cupcakes. When your cupcakes are all the same size, they look neat and professional. This will lend itself to have a more perfect finished product.
I have found that no matter how hard I try, I can never get the cupcake batter to be scooped perfectly without using a scoop. Also, using a scoop tends to lead to less drips on the sides of your cupcake pans.
Simply scoop some batter, level it off with the help of the side of the bowl, and dish it into the cupcake liners!
I recommend purchasing a set of different sized cookie scoops for your kitchen. This way, if you are baking mini, standard, or jumbo cupcakes, you have the right tool for the job!
4. Do not overfill cupcake liners
Cupcake recipes will usually indicate how far to fill the cupcake liners. Half full, two-thirds full, three-quarters full are usually the most common amounts. This is important to note and follow.
Many factors can contribute to the amount cupcakes will rise: the ingredients, leavening agents, and temperature of the oven. Some cupcakes rise more than others.
Unfortunately, I have had many instances of underfilling the cupcake liners and I have very short, pathetic looking cupcakes. I have also overfilled my cupcake liners and have a volcano cupcake that has erupted all over my pan. This makes for messy cupcakes and tedious cleaning.
If a recipe does not specify an amount to fill the cupcakes, I recommend sticking with the two-thirds full amount.
5. Bake cupcakes in the center rack of the oven
All ovens are different. Some more temperamental than others! When you bake your cupcakes, I strongly suggest baking them in the center of your oven. This may require moving your oven racks around, but it will be well worth it.
If the cupcakes are baked too close to the top of the oven, they may brown too much or rise too fast, which may lead to cracked tops.
Whereas if the cupcakes are baked too close to the bottom of the oven, it may take them longer to bake, and I have found that they don’t rise as nicely.
When you are making several batches of cupcakes, you may need to take your time to bake them if you are striving for perfect cupcakes. Depending on your oven, you may be able to fit one or two cupcake pans in the center. If you put two pans in the oven, just ensure that the cupcakes closest to the sides of the oven do not brown faster than the inside cupcakes.
Unfortunately because all ovens are different, you may have to have some trial and error experiments to get to know your oven better!
6. Use the touch test rather than a toothpick
My favorite way to test if the cupcakes are done baking is to give them a little poke! A GENTLE poke. If the cake bounces back, the cupcakes are done! If the cupcake feels wet or does not bounce back, keep baking!
I have found that this is a more accurate reading on whether or not the cupcakes are perfectly baked. I have used toothpicks in the past and I don’t like them for two reasons: (1) I don’t always have them or if I do, I’m digging through my kitchen cabinets to find them and (2) I have had instances where the toothpicks have lied to me!
Disclaimer!! Be VERY careful when you are doing the touch test. The cupcakes are HOT. We are looking for a very quick, very gentle poke! Please do not burn yourself. If you are too concerned about the potential risk, stick with the toothpicks.
7. Remove cupcakes from the pan to cool
Removing your cupcakes from the cupcake pans to cool is important. If the cupcakes are still in the pan, they will continue to bake because of the contact with the pan. Because the cupcakes are smaller than regular cakes, we do not want them to continue to bake so they do not dry out.
Once I remove cupcakes from the oven, I usually allow them to cool for 2 minutes in the pan, and then remove them to a wire rack. I do this with the assistance of a small offset spatula. I insert the spatula between the cupcake liner and the pan and gentle lift the cupcake out of the pan.
A word of caution. The cupcakes will be very hot. Please take care not to burn your fingers!
And NO! Please do not invert your cupcake tray onto a wire rack! These beauties have done a lot of work in the oven to rise perfectly for you! Do not squish their tops!
8. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting
This one may seem a bit self-explanatory, but it is an essential step in creating the perfect cupcake.
Buttercream contains butter. Butter melts pretty easily. Unless you want your frosting to melt all over the cupcake, please wait until the cupcakes have fully cooled before frosting.
If you are in a rush (story of my life), a small shortcut is to place the cupcakes in the refrigerator for just a few minutes to speed up the process. Do not leave them in there for too long!
Or if it is a colder day and you have a clean, appropriate place to do so, pop the cupcakes outside for a few minutes to cool down. Be sure they are protected from the elements, animals, dirt, dust, and cupcake thieves!
9. Pipe the frosting using a piping tip
There is a saying that you “eat with your eyes first”. There is something beautiful about a cupcake swirled with buttercream frosting. To make the perfect cupcake, I highly recommend piping on your frosting. It will give it a professional look and frankly, I think it is easier to pipe it on!
If you are a casual baker, I suggest purchasing a Wilton 1M tip. This pastry tip is highly versatile. You can create numerous buttercream designs with just one tip! I will be posting a tutorial on how to create 5 different piping designs on a cupcake using a Wilton 1M tip.
Check out my recipe for Vanilla American Buttercream for the perfect, easy-to-make buttercream frosting for cupcakes!
10. Store in an airtight container
After your cupcakes are frosted, place them in an airtight container for storage. This protects the cupcakes from drying out and keeps them fresh. We’ve come this far! We don’t want to ruin out perfect cupcakes!
Depending on the recipe, you may need to refrigerate your cupcakes.
With many of my cupcake recipes, the cupcakes will be perfectly fine and fresh left at room temperature for a few days. If you are interested in storing for a bit longer, it may be necessary to refrigerate.
If you refrigerate your cupcakes it is essential that they are in an airtight container. Chilling the cupcakes with no protection will cause them to dry out and potentially absorb any fridge odors that may be lingering.
Most recipes will specify how to store your cupcakes for best results. Most commonly, my cupcake recipes store in the refrigerator for 5 days, however, I have kept them as long as week with great results.
Be sure to take your cupcakes out of the refrigerator ahead of serving so that they come to room temperature for best results.
If you follow these 10 Tips for Baking Perfect Cupcakes, I guarantee that you will make beautiful, delicious cupcakes for your friends and family! Or for yourself. Just yourself. Been there, done that. Enjoy!