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Introduction to Cupcakes

Updated on October 27, 2012

Cupcake Tower!

A beautifully designed cupcake tower!  They look almost too good to eat...almost.
A beautifully designed cupcake tower! They look almost too good to eat...almost. | Source

Introduction

Whether it's their beautiful frosting, their petite size, or their ability to light up a smile, cupcakes really do have ultimate treat appeal. Every generation loves them and even the most grumpy can't help but help themselves to these tasty pieces of art.

Cupcakes come in many varieties and sizes but there are a few factors that are always the same. Cupcakes are generally baked in muffin pans that are lined with baking paper. They are small in size and are usually frosted and decorated. The best thing about cupcakes is that you can be as basic or as unique as you want with them. Almost any type of cake or brownie can be made into a cupcake with some tweaks of the recipe and a little ingenuity.

Types of Cupcakes

Cupcakes may seem americanized or westernized but you can find cupcakes almost anywhere you go. In Southeast Asia, Thailand, Iceland, Brazil, argentina, Britain, Hungary...etc. In the Philippines you can find rice cakes steamed in banana leaf cups. The varieties are endless and the adaptions are unique to every baker.

Many great classic cupcakes can be served frosted, like Chocolate Buttercream Cupcakes or Mint Chocolate Cupcakes. Others are great plain like Applesauce and Cinnamon Cupcakes or Rum Raisin Cupcakes.

Whether you are a child or an adult, a novice or an experienced baker, once you get started with my cupcake recipes you'll realize just how fun baking and decorating cupcakes can be!

A guide to making cupcakes

Basic Equipment

Most cupcakes are very simple to make and you will only need a few pieces of equipment. Here is a list of some of the basic tools you may need for baking and decorating cupcakes:

Scales, Measuring Cups, and Spoons : If proportions of your ingredients are off the whole cupcake is ruined. Accurate scales and measuring devices are key to perfect baking. Be sure to get a full set of measuring cups and spoons before attempting to bake any of the recipes.

Mixing Bowls and Spoons : A medium sized bowl and wooden spoon will be necessary for most of my recipes unless otherwise stated.

Sieves : You will need a large sieve for sifting dry ingredients like flour and icing sugar and a small sieve for dusting sugar or cocoa over finished cupcakes. It is important to sift flour and icing sugar to ensure that the cupcake becomes light and fluffy.

Baking Cups : Many sizes of baking cups are used for making cupcakes. From mini cups to extra large, be sure to know exactly what sizes you want to use for each cupcake. One size does not fit all.

Muffin Pans : There are many styles of muffin pans. The standard size for a muffin pan is 6 or 12 cups each measuring 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Mini pans are also available which hold 12 to 24 cups each measuring 2 inches in diameter and there are jumbo pans that hold 6 cups measuring 4 inches in diameter.

Timers : Accurate timing is everything. Make sure you have a timer that works properly and will not fail on you and your cupcakes.

Wire Racks : The best tools for cooling muffins. It is best to leave most cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes once finished the baking process before transferring them to a wire rack.

Butter, eggs, flour, and sugar! All you need for a basic cupcake!
Butter, eggs, flour, and sugar! All you need for a basic cupcake! | Source

Basic Ingredients

Most cupcakes have 4 basic ingredients: Fat, Sugar, Eggs, and Flour but other ingredients are often added.

Eggs : Eggs enrich cupcake mixtures and help to bind ingredients together. For best results use eggs that are at room temperature. This is done by removing eggs from the refrigerator about an hour before you start baking.

Butter and other fats : Unsalted butter is often best for baking cupcakes since it gives a wonderfully rich flavour. For creamed cupcakes use butter at room temperature, for cut in mixtures use firm, cold butter and for melted mixtures dice the butter before gently warming it. Butter and cream cheese should always be softened before adding them to the mixture unless otherwise stated.

Sugar : There are many different types of sugar which all have unique tastes and textures that will alter the cupcake batter. White sugars add sweetness while brown sugars add flavour and colour as well. Brown sugar should always be packed (pressed into the measuring cup firmly) when being measured. Granulated sugar is the most frequently used type of sugar that is used in baking cupcakes. For a finer texture use superfine sugar instead of granulated. Icing sugar is often used for dusting or making frosting and syrups can also be used to replace sugar in some circumstances.

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