Prep Time: 15 mins Bake Time: 20 mins Oven Temp: 170 C Yields: 12 medium sized cupcakes Level: Beginner
I have always been more inclined towards baking cakes than cupcakes. I tell myself that it is so because my husband prefers slices of cakes to cupcakes but the real reason is that I am petrified of cupcakes. Each individual cup of goodness has a mind of its own and they are no way near as forgiving as their “regular” cake counterparts. My cakes have always risen, have most of the time been soft and dense (unless I wanted them to crispy and biscuity or spongy) and have always always tasted good. My cupcakes on the other hand have always been more moody – some sink, some are too oily and some just don’t seem right! And there is only as much one can do to “cover” their cupcake disasters with frosting – you can camouflage the top but you cannot hide the texture!
Now, most of the times when you follow a set recipe to the ‘T’, you get the perfect cupcakes. But what if I want to deviate from a recipe? To successfully customize any recipe one needs to understand the role every element of the recipe and then modify it accordingly, right? Thus, a lot of my Google and YouTube searches had been about how to bake the perfect cupcake or how to make cupcakes using my basic cake batter or why did my cupcakes sink. Not every question of mine was answered by my Google searches and more often than not tips and tricks mentioned led me to think of many follow-up questions… Yes this is why people go to Culinary school or Pastry School. For me that is not an option (well not right now at least) and so I did what the next best thing I could do – experiment.
If I told you about the number of batches of cupcakes that I have ruined all for the sake of my experiment, you’d be shocked. Of course they didn’t really go waste cause well they all tasted really good except for maybe one batch but more about it later!
This post of mine outlines my learning from the various experiments I conducted in my kitchen and the foolproof recipe I got out of it for the Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes. Before I share the recipe though, let us list out the characteristics of the perfect Vanilla cupcake –
- Firm yet soft
- Slight mound on top – neither OTT high nor sunken in the middle
- Even and small crumb
- A beautiful warm Vanilla flavour – not overpowering
Can I use a cake recipe to make cupcakes?
- Consider adding some oil – If your cake recipe is uses only butter then consider reducing the amount of butter by 1/3 and replace it by the same amount of oil. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of butter, then I would use 2 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp oil. Oil helps cakes be more moist while cakes with butter are lighter and comparatively drier. The ratio of butter and oil is no real science just preference of taste. I find 33% of oil and 67% of butter for the overall fat composition hit a sweet-spot of a perfectly moist cake without compromising on the yummy buttery flavours.
- Adjust the baking temperature & time – Cupcakes are many mini cakes and hence it needs considerably lesser time to bake and in many cases lower temperatures. In my experience cupcakes bake perfectly at 170 C and take about 20-25 mins.
- All Purpose Flour – 1 cup
- White caster sugar – 1/2 cup
- Room Temperature Butter – 2 tbsp
- Unflavoured Oil – 1 tbsp
- Baking Powder – 1 tsp
- Eggs – 2
- Vanilla Essence – 3/4 tsp
- Milk – 3 tsp
- Sieve the flour, baking powder and caster sugar together.
- Add butter, oil, eggs and vanilla essence and beat into a batter using an electric mixer.
- Pour in the milk and continue beating for a minute.
- The cupcake batter is ready. Spoon the batter halfway into the cupcake moulds.
- Bake at 170 C for 20 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cupcake.
- Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.
Common Mistakes while Baking Cupcakes
This could be due to a number of reasons but the following 3 are the most probable ones –
- Too much leavening agent like Baking Soda. This can lead to the cupcakes rising abruptly too early into the baking and then sinking back by the time the cupcakes are taken out of the oven.
- Too much liquid in the recipe can cause a lot of steam creation in the early stages of baking resulting in a rapid rise of the cupcake. However, by the end of the baking time due to all the steam having escaped the cupcakes would have sunk in the middle.
- Opening the oven door too early in the game confusing the cupcake with extreme changes in temperature.
Big Crumbs and Uneven Texture
This can be attributed to either too much leavening agent or overbeating the cake batter. Overbeating the batter can lead to a short gluten bonds (denser pockets) as well as having too much air (airy pockets) leading to an uneven crumb and texture.
I hope you found this post helpful and do share your tips and tricks with me 🙂