Top Tips on Cupcakes

I recently moved to Greenwich, it is a beautiful location, and I love walking along the river.  Tucked up along the path that I take into Greenwich, is a cookery school called Fair Cake.  I have passed the shop front many times, and last week I decided to try some of their cupcake making courses – with the aim of maybe one day doing my own cookery lessons.

Cupcakes seem to be ‘a la mode’ at the moment, and there are lots of CupCake shops popping up all over the place.  They look so perfect, and there is nothing more joyous than getting a perfect cake, with lots of beautiful detail, and sinking your teeth into the sugar rush…. deliiiiiish!

So what are the secrets?  And how can we make a perfect cupcake?  Well the three hour Fair Cake Cupcake Classes give you lots of top tips, and if you are in London and fancy a cupcake class, I would highly recommend them – they are friendly, informative, and a lot of fun!

Here are top ten tips:

  1. Use Stork instead of Butter to make your batter.  Apparently butter has a higher water content, and therefore can make your cupcakes get the volcano top which you don’t want.  Also, it is cheaper to use stork – an added bonus!
  2. Place the sugar into the mixing bowl first, as this will not stick to the sides of the bowl like flour will.
  3. Do not add the vanilla essence in at the beginning of the mixing process, as it can contain alcohol and can start to cook the eggs, which could make your mixture split.
  4. Use a trigger handle ice cream scoop to fill your cupcake paper-cups.  Ensure that you flatten the mixture in the scoop, and you will have evenly filled paper-cups.  You will also have less mess!
  5. If your oven is too hot, you will get a volcano type effect on the top.  If your oven is not hot enough, the cupcakes will not rise.  Every oven is different, so this will come with trial and error.
  6. Cook the cupcakes on the middle shelf, and only cook one batch at a time.
  7. 12 minutes into the cooking, turn the tray to help achieve evenly distributed cupcakes.
  8. Do not overcook the cupcakes – they should be pale in colour!
  9. If the paper-cups that you have cooked your cupcake in is peeling away from the cake – this could either be the weather (sorry – there isn’t anything I can do about that 😉 ), or the case is not the right size for your tin.
  10. Practice makes perfect!

Fair Cake Cupcake Vanilla Recipe:

  • 125 g of eggs (approx 2 – measure out two eggs, and use the exact weight of the eggs, for the stork, flour, and sugar).
  • 125g of stork
  • 125 self-raising flour
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 1/4tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp of vanilla essence
  1. Into a Kenwood chef mixer bowl, place the ingredients in this order: sugar, flour, eggs, stork.  Mix for 1 minutes.
  2. Add the Baking Powder and the vanilla essence, and mix for another 30 seconds.
  3. Place paper-cups into your cup cake tray, and distribute the mixture evenly into the paper-cups.
  4. Bake at 170C Fan oven, or 190C non-fan for 20 minutes.
  5. Place on a wire rack to cool.

To Decorate:

You can decorate your cupcake in many different ways, but you should always start with Buttercream icing sugar, to create a flat top.

Buttercream Icing:

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  1. In a large bowl (preferably a kenwood chef) cream together the butter and vanilla.
  2. Blend in the sugar, a quarter at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Keep icing covered until ready to decorate.

To flat top the cupcake: Hold the cupcake lightly between your thumb and forethinger.  Using a spatula fill the cupcake high with buttercream.  Press your spatula down in the middle of the cake, and lightly bring the spatula towards you.  Keep the spatula flat and even, and this will scrape off the excess  buttercream of one corner of the cupcake, giving you a flat area. Scrape your spatula clean.  Turn your cupcake, and repeat.  Keep turning your cupcake and repeating the action until you have a flat top cupcake which looks like this:

Now it is down to your imagination:

You could fill a piping bag, and pipe more buttercream on top:

You could dip the buttercreamed cupcake into hundreds and thousands:

You could use royal icing to draw patterns:

You could use modelling paste to create shapes:

You could make roses out of flower paste:

Click on the link for more cupcake art to inspire you!

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12 thoughts on “Top Tips on Cupcakes

  1. They are all so pretty, it makes me want to bake some this weekend. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips

  2. Emma, this is the most exciting science ever! Alcohol denatures egg proteins in a similar way to heat – who knew? I might just head up to Summer Institute and start wandering the corridors doing this demonstration.

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