Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cupcakes for Dummies (St Patrick's Day Rainbow Cupcakes, Topped with Lucky Charms)

The cupcakes I've made in the past never tasted as good as the ones at the specialty shops (like Sprinkles Cupcakes).   I've tried different recipes and none of them were great.  Then it got me thinking, maybe its not the recipe but the technique.  I googled and googled and finally found a few tips on making better cupcakes that has helped me tremendously.  These tips may seem obvious to some, but for me it was a switch went off and my cupcakes were instantly better.

Tip 1:  Your butter does not need to be at room temperature if you are using a electric beater. You want your butter to be a little cooler than room temperature so it does not become a greasy mess when you fluff your butter and sugar.  Your eggs should be at room temperature.

Tip 2: Fluff your butter and sugar.  I mean really fluff it, do not skimp on this step!

Tip 3: Sift your flour and then measure it.  I know this one I rarely did and when I did sift, I would measure then sift, which is the wrong order!  You will see in the image below how much left over flour I had after I measured 3 cups, sifted, and remeasured three cups.  Three cups of unsifted flour was more like 2.75 cups of sifted flour.  (I read the best measurement is by weight, but I haven't gotten that advanced yet).

The more obvious tips:

Tip 4: Mix wet ingredients and then dry.

Tip 5: Don't over mix dry ingredients into wet.

Tip 6:  Use cake flour

Tip 7:  You are baking, be precise.

Here is the recipe that I used for my cupcakes.  It's actually the recipe printed on the Swan's Down Cake Flour Box.  Since I made cupcakes, I did adjust the time from 25-30 min to 15-20 min.

Swan's Down 1-2-3-4 Cake 

1 cup butter 
2 cups sugar 
3 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour, sifted 
3 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake trays.  Recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

In a mixing bowl cream butter and gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl sift flour (remember this is the second sift, the first sift was before you measure the flour) with baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture alternately with milk and flavorings to creamed mixture, beating after each addition until smooth. Pour batter into cake pans. 

For cupcakes bake for 15 - 20 minutes.  Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans and finish cooling on racks. 

To make rainbow cupcakes simply divide the batter into ziplock bags or bowls and mix in food coloring.  Scoop each cupcake with a little of every color.

Buttercream frosting recipe here:

Rainbow Cupcakes topped with a Lucky Charm

Remember to sift flour!

This is how much flour that was left over after I sifted.

Cream butter and sugar well!

To make rainbow cupcakes I colored each portion of the batter in ziplock bags so I could pipe it into the cupcake tray.

Batter in tray, I didn't want to over mix my batter so the food coloring weren't completely mixed in.

Inside a rainbow cupcake.

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