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Making Flat Top Cupcakes - How to Get Your Cupcakes Flat on Top
Making Flat Top Cupcakes
Making flat top cupcakes is a skill, but luckily one that's easy to master.
Baking cupcakes is fun, it's something that can be done quickly, something that kids can enjoy and with the endless range of cupcake flavours available cupcakes are as suitable for a wedding as they are for the kids teatime.
They're also remarkably easy to make, with the simplest recipes requiring only a few ingredients and less than 20 mins in the oven, making them a fairly immediate piece of cooking.
When you first start baking cupcakes part of their charm is that they rise into little peaks which crust over making these treats even more delicious, and giving rise to that old favourite, the butterfly cake.
However, there comes a time - normally when you've been asked to make cakes for a party, or other event when decorating the cupcakes beautifully is important - when the little volcano tops become a problem. For to decorate them perfectly you need flat topped cupcakes.
Of course you could just cook them as normal and slice the tops off, but when you consider how easy it is to make flat topped cupcakes why give yourself extra work?
How to Get Flat Topped Cupcakes
There are 2 things that affect whether your cupcakes come out of the oven flat or not:
- The consistency of the mixture
- The temperature of the oven
Consistency: A good cupcake mixture is not too liquid and not too stiff. What you want is something that you can easily take a spoon of without it running over the edges, and that will easily drop off the spoon. Don't be afraid to play around with adding water or flour to get the right consistency; ingredients react differently depending on age and temperature so it's common for the same quantities of ingredients to give different consistencies of mixture.
Oven Temperature and Good Bakeware: Using the right sort of cupcake baking trays and getting the right oven temperature is generally the key to getting cupcakes to behave as you want.
Bakeware: Good quality bakeware gives the best results as it allows for even distribution of heat, and for flat topped cupcakes you want the heat to be as evenly distributed as possible so the cakes cook evenly.
Oven Temperature: Assuming you have a good muffin tin to cook your cupcakes in, the next stage is to understand how they cook. In simple terms cupcakes rise because they have a raising agent in them, such as baking powder and the rising is caused by the reaction of the raising agent with the other ingredients when heat is applied via the oven.
Cupcakes, like all other sorts of cakes, cook from the outside in so the edges cook first and the middle cooks last. The baking tin heats up in the oven and applies heat directly to the cake mixture. Apply too much heat too quickly (i.e. too hot an oven) and the cupcakes will quickly cook at the edges, leaving the middle of the cake the only place for rest of the mixture to rise - hence volcano like cupcakes.
It's worth being aware that ovens vary in temperature and what you set on your dial can differ by as much as 20C to the temperature in the oven, so you need to have a bit of a play around and turn the temperature down to a level that suits your cakes. Cakes can always be cooked for longer, but once they've risen that's it - you can't reverse the procedure.
For myself if I want flat topped cupcakes and the recipe states 180C I'll cook them at 150C - I may have to cook them a bit longer but the lower temperature allows the mixture to rise uniformly.
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