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I love making and eating cupcakes. They’re just the right size, and there are so many different ways to make them. If you don’t want to make anything complicated, or prefer not to make homemade, there are plenty of recipes that dress up a boxed cake mix! There’s no shame in going semi-homemade!
This is your ultimate guide to baking cupcakes. From making the batter to filling, frosting, and storing, this has you covered. After the baking tips, there are 50 cupcake recipes. Recipes are fruit-based, chocolate, vanilla, boozy, traditional, and unique. The list also includes some dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free options. Recipe photos used with permission.
Making Cupcake Batter
I use a KitchenAid stand mixer. I use the flex edge beater so I don’t have to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. A hand mixer works just as well, but a mixer is not necessary. You can mix the old fashioned way with a mixing bowl and wooden spoon.
Most recipes call for butter at room temperature for easy mixing. You can soften it in the microwave in a pinch, but be careful not to melt it.
When adding eggs to the batter, I like to crack the eggs into a small bowl one at a time. I do this because it’s much easier to deal with the accidental shell when it’s in a separate bowl than it is when it’s in the whole bowl of cupcake mix! Le Creuset silicone prep bowls are great for this.
Cupcake Tins & Wrappers
I recommend the basic metal muffin/cupcake tin. I’ve tried silicone pans before. While the nonstick quality is great, particles tend to stick to the silicone. Dog hair was especially problematic and always seemed to get stuck in the compartments.
I always keep a lot of cupcake wrappers on hand for all seasons and occasions. I use the traditional paper wrappers. They also make silicone wrappers. While I don’t recommend a cupcake tin that’s entirely silicone, the silicone cupcake wrappers are a good option as long as you store them properly (such as in a box or bag that dust, etc. can’t get into).
I use a cookie scoop to measure the batter for each cupcake. An ice cream scoop can work well for this, too. This ensures the cupcakes are similar in size so they all bake evenly.
Know your oven. If it has hot spots, consider rotating the cupcake tin halfway through baking. For most recipes, I start checking to see if they’re done about 2 minutes before the time the recipe specifies. Over-baking is one of the primary reasons cupcakes are dry. (Like the ones I accidentally over-baked by 7 minutes last week when I went outside to grill and forgot I had cupcakes in the oven! Oops!)
Filling & Decorating Cupcakes
Let cupcakes cool completely before attempting to fill or frost. Especially with the frosting, a warm cupcake will make the frosting melt and run off the sides.
I use an apple corer to make a hole and remove some of the center of the cupcake. Just push the corer through the top of the cupcake until you almost reach the bottom, and remove.
You don’t have to be fancy when you decorate cupcakes. A small spatula or knife will do. But if you want to up your decorating game, use a piping bag. I have a Wilton cake decorating kit that has several different tips for piping frosting. This also comes in handy when making other things, such as deviled eggs or duchess potatoes!
Storing and Transporting Cupcakes
I generally do not recommend storing cupcakes in the refrigerator, as this can cause the cake to get dry. Instead, store in an airtight container. I generally store cupcakes in my cupcake carrier. The one I have is like this one by Prep Works that can carry both cakes and cupcakes. When looking for a cupcake carrier, it’s important to get one with slots, compartments, or ridges to hold the cupcakes in place.